Tyler Cowen, over at marginalrevolution.com, has a pointer today to a long article entitled The Age of Mass Intelligence in the Economist’s moreintelligentlife.com online magazine. It’s a long, hard-to-summarize article, with the main point that there are many more people interested in “high culture” than cultural pessimists think and these culturally-interested people are a more heterogeneous group than one might expect. The emphasis is primarily on the UK, understandably. The article already has a small number of comments at the bottom, and I expect more to appear there soon.
Cultural pessimism has already made an appearance in the comments. I am not sure it’s warranted. One particular comment in this vein that I dislike says that we shouldn’t count people who are simply nouveau-cultured as cultured; they are just buying culture. For that commenter, culture is always for a small minority. To this I say “Bah!”. Elitism at its worst.
One good way to use the information in the article would be as fodder for planning by non-profits in the arts. A good thing to read for the management of Lyric Fest, my own favorite non-profit, for sure.
Update: if you revisit the article, you will see a lively debate between the commenter who made the remark I bemoan above and myself.