The culture club
Humanity may not live by bread alone, but whether your need is bread, Beethoven or the Beatles the division between the haves and the have-nots remains. Economic, not creative power, is the decisive factor in sharing out the world's resources. Modern communications capable of bringing art to a worldwide audience lie in the hands of the 0 major industrialised nations and their multinational corporations, and inevitably reflect their priorities and values. The same division can be seen within those societies. There are subsidies for the chosen pursuits of the powerful minority - the culture club - and mass-produced goods for the majority.
The People's Choice
Consumers of the arts are overwhelmingly middle and upper class. Sixty-two per cent of Britain’s population is defined as working class. But they provide only 4% of the Royal Opera House audience, 20% of customers at the Promenade Music Concerts and 16% of visitors to the Royal Shakespeare Company. Most people put leisure before art.
Source: Facts About the Arts, Policy Studies Institute, 1983
For Art's Sake
The UK’s government-funded Arts Council puts about $100 million a year into the arts in Britain, and so has a vital influence on the health and survival of different sectors. But the distribution of funds reflects the balance of political and economic power, with upper-class pursuits such as opera continually favoured over community projects.
Source: Facts about the Arts, Policy Studies Institute. 1983
Industrialised nations such as the US, Canada, Australia, France and Japan contain only 30 per cent of the world’s population, but control a much larger share of resources for the consumption of art.
Source: UNESCO Courier March 1983.
Whether you live in Belgrade, Buenos Aires or Brisbane the odds are that the same big American films — Ghostbusters or Gremlins — are on offer at your local cinema. In 1983 ET was simultaneously the biggest earning film in Japan, Italy and the Argentine. The US dominates the world market, producing one in twenty of the world’s films — but pulling in half of all box office receipts.
For most TV networks it’s much cheaper and easier to buy ready-made episodes of Dallas and Dynasty than to make their own programmes. The US dominates world trade in television, accounting for about 60 per cent of all exports.
Whatever the label on your record, and wherever you bought it, it is almost certainly distributed by one of five major western companies. The big five control a world record trade worth nearly 12 billion dollars.
Figures for UK Source: British Phonographic Industry Yearbook 1984.