Huffpost Culture

Should We Support Arts Organizations Or Musicians?

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A few weeks ago, David Beem made a bold statement to HuffPost readers. In a piece titled "Slash Your Local Orchestra," Beem, a former professional cellist, painted a stark picture of life for a working chamber musician -- one of fewer jobs, crushing debt, and minimal pay for those lucky enough to get hired, by organizations that may not be able to keep them. Even now, the celebrated but bankrupt Philadelphia Orchestra is mired in a lengthy reorganization that may cost them millions. And yet, orchestras give jobs to talented musicians, provide an invaluable resource for audiences, and record music for future generations.

Beem's statements made many of you speak up on both sides of the debate. Commenter sjctrumpet blamed universities for not preparing musicians for the real world: "It sounds crazy, for music educators to discourage their students from becoming a music professional, but in reality they would be doing everyone a huge favor by only recommending a music career to their most talented."

Now we're hoping you'll tell us more about what you think. Should we be supporting our arts organizations, whatever the difficulties they have, or should we focus our attention on individuals? Could we give musicians the means to exit what Beem describes as a broken system by funding them directly?

Take a moment to answer the question below, and please let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Step
1

Pre-debate poll:

Tell us your opinion before the debate starts to set the starting line

Should We Support Arts Organizations Over Musicians?

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Step
2

Who makes the better argument?

Point: Promoting arts organizations supports musicians

“It would be wonderful if our nation would promote and support smaller, less costly ensembles in intimate settings. This might be an excellent time to reevaluate various classical music events, including the solo recital, and salon or home concerts. If philanthropists and foundations would recognize that all the finest talent is not necessarily to be found in symphonic orchestras alone, perhaps we could engage our audiences to attend other occasions of classical music experiences, thus helping to solve the issue of many, many incredible instrumentalists with too few performance opportunities.”
-Marjorie Kransberg Talvi
Point: We need to concentrate on our artists, not the institutions

“As a classical musician who teaches a great deal, I always have mixed feelings when one of my students shows exceptional talent and an interest in a musical career. My first emotion is joy, followed immediately by apprehensive thought: "How will he pay the rent when he grows up?" For those few students who are truly serious about a career I guide them to be multi-taskers so that they have not only have virtuoso skill but can conduct, arrange, etc., and I guide them toward the acquisition of business skills and networking. In other words, how the business really works. rnrnA radio program I really do not like is "From the Top" that features very young people performing. It is too cute, with a breathless atmosphere of excitement for their glorious futures of fame and fortune. I regard it as a kind of child-exploitation because very few will have a future so rosy. Fortunately, music conservatories are beginning to include courses in career development and related skills, something that did not exist when I was at a conservatory.”
-JBaker

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POST DEBATE POLL

Did one of the arguments change your mind?

Should We Support Arts Organizations Over Musicians?

VIEW DEBATE ROUND 1 RESULTS

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"Agree""Disagree"Neither argumenthas changed the most minds

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Around the Web

Why Government Support? - National Assembly of State Arts Agencies

Why support the Arts? Ten Good Reasons. - Mosaic Mandalas

Dozens Turn Out to Support the Arts

Government Money Is Not The Best Way To Fund The Arts

Incentives for Private Support