French vs. American Culture


From the always wonderful The Week magazine, a heartening summary of an argument made by French columnist Eric Le Boucher in Le Monde. (In The Week style, the internal quotes are from the original article that they are summarizing):

[The French] system, "which rests largely on public subsidizing of the arts and on massive unemployment insurance for artists," seemed intrinsically superior—even morally superior. Yet a new French study of the American culture industry says this caricature of the U.S. as McHollywood is way off the mark. The U.S. has 2 million people professionally employed as artists. Not only is that figure nearly three times the number employed as police in the U.S., but it's also proportionately much larger than the artist population in France. Even more surprising, to French sensibilities, is "the diversity of the American art scene." Spurred by competition and lacking the complacency that government funding imparts, American artists have created independent theaters, studios, writing workshops, and alternative dance groups, even in small towns. The result is not a cultural scene ruled by money but one that is "profoundly democratic."

For the full summary, see here and scroll down to the bottom. America's varied and vital art scene, both high and popular–one of many things to be thankful for this holiday weekend.