The Public Interest

Every Man a Patron

Ronald Berman

Fall 1984

EDWARD BANFIELD’S The Democratic Muse will be the subject of a great deal of criticism, some of which it frankly arouses, and one should begin by placing it in context. It is one of a number of recent books that have responded to government patronage of culture.  These books are not confined to the American scene: They include Harold Baldry’s The Case for the Arts which studies state patronage in England, and Elizabeth Sweeting’s edition of Patron or Paymaster? which does the same for Hong Kong and Malaysia, as well as Canada and France. (For the United States Dick Netzer’s The Subsidized Muse should be added to the list.) Such books make up a small and valuable library on a new subject. They have different points of view, but they address themselves to the issue in a much more than political way: That is to say, they are not satisfied with the appropriation of funds to solve cultural “problems.” It might even be said that they view the problems to arise from the appropriation of funds.

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