Awa\’ with the fairies, this lad

What nobody seems to think worth mentioning is how corporate sponsorship changes the very meaning of these palaces of culture. The British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, in particular, are meant to stand for who we are as a people, as a democracy. They are the cathedrals of democracy.

He really does seem to have missed that art is elitist, doesn\’t he?

13 comments on “Awa\’ with the fairies, this lad

  1. ” …are meant to stand for who we are as a people, as a democracy”: aye, it’ll be in their trust deeds, no doubt.

    “They are the cathedrals of democracy”: what, is he saying that democracy is just another superstition?

  2. By definition such institutions are set up to preserve the best in our culture. And in several others. By definition then they are not democratic.

    It is not that art is elitist. It is that it must be.

  3. The complaint is pretty moot if he doesn’t provide evidence of how the corporate cash is changing anything for the worse, or adversely influencing the content of the museums.

    Total paid for one of the long-running exhibitions in the Louvre, and the only thing I can think of which might give cause for complaint is that Total employees and a guest enjoy the perk of free entry through a VIP entrance to the Louvre. Especially if that employee is looking rather smug as he walks past the long queue of sweating tourists waiting to go in.

  4. Firstly, just so we’re all clear, this is *that* Rob Newman, as in ‘Newman and Baddiel’ Rob Newman, and even his friends think he’s a grade A whackaloon.

    Then again, so do mine, so on to his actual point, to which my first response is a very simple “aaaaahahahahahahahahahahaaaaa, back at the stand up are you ?”

    In slightly longer form : Firstly the idea that an institution that houses fabulous treasures from around the world which are largely the result of decades of imperialist looting and one which is mostly full of the vanity tokens of the wealthy and powerful are in any way ‘palaces of democracy’ is laughable at best, tragically indicative of a tendency to try and appropriate cultural history without understanding it at worst. Actually, I can think of worse things to say about it, maybe later.

    Secondly, the only way to ‘democratise’ art, which as several of you have pointed out is inherently elitist, is to make it accessible to as many people as possible. Both the BM and NPG are free admission. You can’t get much more ‘democratic’ than that unless you start polling on display content.

    Lastly, and by no means leastly, Newman appears to exercised by corporate sponsorship, but of course someone has to pay the bills. He goes on to whine about ‘Big Oil’ avoiding taxes, but he wants them to pay more taxes so that the money can be spent on the BM and the PNG. Err, but it already *is* spent on them.

    Clearly he believes that such monies are somehow washed clean of unpleasant associations by having them taken under threat of force and allocated by bureaucracy, rather than given willingly.

    All of which rather makes him a nasty, ignorant little shit.

  5. “You can’t get much more ‘democratic’ than that unless you start polling on display content.”

    Don’t give them ideas, or the place’ll be full of ‘X-Factor’ memorabilia before you can blink!

  6. Sponsorship is the equivalent of winning the lottery for the art lover. Corporate bosses spend millions of their shareholders cash, in order to massage their own egos.

    What is the problem?

  7. And what manner of idiot thinks BP doesn’t pay taxes?!! How did this idiocy come about, the notion that oil companies don’t pay taxes? By corporate standards, they don’t even go to extreme lengths to avoid them.

  8. Without wishing to defend Mr Newman’s article, I don’t see that art is/must be elitist. Certainly the high arts (and I have in mind such forms as ballet, classical music, opera, abstract painting, and so on – this is not a definition) are primarily appreciated only by a minority. But then the same is true of many strands of the popular arts as well (such as heavy metal, hip-hop, trad jazz, graphic novels, grafitti art, etc).

    If (say) ballet is elitist on the grounds that it appeals only to minority, does this mean that (say) punk rock is elitist too?

  9. blindcyclists – “Firstly the idea that an institution that houses fabulous treasures from around the world which are largely the result of decades of imperialist looting and one which is mostly full of the vanity tokens of the wealthy and powerful are in any way ‘palaces of democracy’ is laughable at best, tragically indicative of a tendency to try and appropriate cultural history without understanding it at worst.”

    While I don’t disagree with you I would be surprised if much in the National Portrait Gallery is looted. In fact I would be surprised if anyone here can name a single piece therein that was not properly paid for. The British Museum is more complex, but I would say by and large the same applies. Some pieces may be looted but the vast majority of it was not. Depending on how you want to define legitimately taken prizes like the Rosetta Stone.

    Unlike the Louvre I might point out. Which is largely looted.

  10. British Museum founded 1753
    National Gallery founded 1824.

    Both before the 1832 Reform Act, so only around 3% of the population could vote.

    Were they really meant to be cathedrals of democracy?

  11. It’s all a refreshing change from whining that not enough members of racial minorities go to art galleries and that that’s all the galleries’ fault.

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