Arts Under Pressure

When I was taking Sociology 10 last semester, my group was tasked to report on globalization. We focused our discussion on neoliberalism, the institutions that regulate the world economy and the subsequent effect of globalization in the Philippines.

I managed to find an interesting reading from the College of Arts and Letters library on arts and globalization, Arts Under Pressure: Promoting Culture and Diversity in the Age of Globalization was written by Joost Smiers.

I have not finished reading the book and it is way past its due. Before I return this to the shelves, here is an excerpt of an interesting section of the book. It strikes at the heart of one of the topics in the recent workshop we organized. Pandayan sa Daluyan tackled new media as a tool for community-based cultural work. Part of the using the web to propagate ideas and works is understanding the issue of licensing content. Tengal Drilon of the Sabaw Media Art Kitchen provided the input on Free Culture and Copyleft (video to be uploaded soon!).

Doubtful Originality
The Twenty FIrst Century’s Most Valuable Commodity
an excerpt from Arts Under Pressure by Joost Smiers

It would be good to see artists, in rich and poor countries alike, being remunerated fairly for their work. Many people still believe that copyright is one of the most important sources of an artist’s income. In fact, copyright, which on the European continent is usually called author’s rights, is becoming on of the most valuable commercial products of the twenty-first century. This makes it unlikely that the system still actually protects the interests of the majority of musicians, composers, actors, dancers, writers, designers, visual artists and filmmakers. The public domain is shrinking anyway, with the ongoing privitization of the creative and intellectual commons.

There are urgent reasons for trying to find other ways to ensure that artists can make a living from their work and that their creations and performances really get the respect they deserve. And we must realize once again that we hinder the social and cultural development of our societies when we continue to neglect the public domain of knowledge and creativity.

The information and cultural conglomerates embrace the whole world with waves and cables. Besides conveying business data, news and contracts, these superhighways serve as carriers of entertainment, which partly a trade product in itself though most of the time it also acts as the stimulus for buying and consuming other products. Entertainment, or what we like to call the arts, has moved from the sidelines of society right into the middle of the so-called new economy. This is one of the reasons we are again seeing a rush of mergers in the cultural field, such as the one between AOL and Time Warner.

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