Aesthetics in the Age of Austerity: Building the Creative Class

In Anthology of Philosophical Studies 9. Athens Institute for Education and Research. pp. 37-48 (2015)
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Aesthetic theorists often interpret and understand works of art through the social and political context that creates and inspires the work. The recent economic recessions, and the accompanying austerity measures in many European countries, provide an interesting test case for this contextual understanding. Economists debate whether or not spending on entertainment and arts drops during times of recession and austerity. Some economists assume that spending will decline in times of austerity, but others point to evidence that spending on creative arts and entertainment remains steady and even increases during a recession because of the relief and escapism that the arts provide. Tax incentives and production rights are often given to filmmakers in the United States; in hopes that such projects will enliven a local economy and provide work for a local creative community. In the context of recent austerity measures in Greece and Spain, new and creative ways for members of the arts community to bring about new projects, and fund them in ways that critique political leadership, have emerged. Following Richard Wollheim’s classic aesthetic theory of “criticism as retrieval,” we should be mindful of the cultural values that are at stake in the creativity-culture market now being created. In any case, some scholars estimate that austerity measures in many countries will last until 2020, giving us ample opportunity to be even more “creative” with both financial incentives and artistic achievements. Keywords: Austerity, Cultural Economy, Creative Class, Tax Incentives, Aesthetics, Microtheatres, Entertainment
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