Friday, November 28, 2008

A Bear Market for the Arts


  Under normal conditions the outcome of the Presidential election might well have been one to favor the arts.  There were signs that Obama acknowledged that art plays a significant role in society and examination of McCain's various policy statements showed his public policy on arts education to be quite contrasting. Additionally McCain had a well known record as he voted repeatedly to cut funding for or terminate the National Endowment for the Arts. 

But these are not ordinary times. Today is supposed to be the big retail day of the year and shopping results will likely be disappointing to those who mull over the the sales stats looking for a some kind of trend. 

The economy that is being transferred from the existing administration in Washington to the new President Obama is dismal. Employment figures are taking a beating. Sales of big ticket items, cars, homes, etc. are stalled and investments in traditional commodities and job creation are in decline. It is not likely that as the song goes, "Happy Days are Here Again."

Poets & Writers online features a story this week that  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt recently requested that its editors stop acquiring books.  We are talking about a significant sized publisher here.

In these hard times that are likely to grow even more worrisome in the months ahead, it is hard to see how the arts will likely benefit from much philanthropic activity if business are fighting for survival.

Small publishing houses who often find it hard to make ends meet will be challenged even grater. I can't imagine the state of writing grants improving.  These things surly will make the competition for those looking to get their first manuscript published more exigent.

It is hard to see the way out of this economic calamity that we are in, but I might suggest that if you are one who is still doing Christmas/holiday exchanges, you might consider giving a new copy of one of your favorite poet's works that was published by a small press.  It's a place to start.

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