Stephen Harper’s dramatic cut to arts funding has provoked a huge backlash within the arts community but in this web 2.0 world, the relationship we have to media and culture has changed dramatically.
Blogger/author Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody suggests that economic, medical and other changes after the Second World War “forced onto an enormous number of … citizens the requirement to manage something they had never had to manage before – free time.” He calls this a “cognitive surplus” that people dealt with variously: largely by watching television but, more recently, by creating their own cultural products (art) or sharing images and ideas with others (the Internet). This multiform explosion of art and culture is to no one’s credit or fault – it just happened. But it isn’t going away,
It will be interesting to see how this plays out with the electorate given their new cultural role. Will they have a higher appreciation for art and cultural industries? Will they recognize that huge business success stories like Flickr were originally funded as art projects? Time will tell.