French author F. Martel on "Culture in America"

French author comes to America, wonders “where’s the Ministry of Culture?”, is surprised by US vibrancy in arts, writes hefty tome. Sacre bleu! Maybe a country doesn’t need a Ministry of Culture to have a good arts scene!
Tyler Cowen has written Good and Plenty: The Creative Success of American Arts Funding (Princeton University Press, 2006). This article in the New York Times, found from Arts Journal Daily, points out that a French author has recently come out with a weighty tome on the same subject, reaching the conclusion that the US has a very effective decentralized system for supporting the arts; and that in France the intellectual elite are more into trying to preserve their privileges when they argue for more government support for the arts than trying to really promote the arts. The last point is of course no surprise to any economist; ulterior motives are not hard to see when you have been shown how to look for them.
If you want to read one of these books, Cowen’s has a lot to recommend it (and I confess ignorance of the book by Martel that the New York Times article discusses beyond what I read in the article). Perhaps the most important virtue of Cowen’s book is its brevity. I know I don’t have time to read Martel’s…


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