Eric Le Boucher
The French have underestimated America’s cultural richness, said Eric Le Boucher in Paris’ Le Monde. We’ve long dismissed the U.S. as a place where the market alone decides what gets written, filmed, painted, or choreographed. Our own system, "which rests largely on public subsidizing of the arts and on massive unemployment insurance for artists," seemed intrinsically superior—even morally superior. Yet a new French study of the American culture industry says this caricature of the U.S. as McHollywood is way off the mark. The U.S. has 2 million people professionally employed as artists. Not only is that figure nearly three times the number employed as police in the U.S., but it’s also proportionately much larger than the artist population in France. Even more surprising, to French sensibilities, is "the diversity of the American art scene." Spurred by competition and lacking the complacency that government funding imparts, American artists have created independent theaters, studios, writing workshops, and alternative dance groups, even in small towns. The result is not a cultural scene ruled by money but one that is "profoundly democratic."
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