Monday, October 22, 2007

Mark Lawson Pins It Down

Mark Lawson calls philistine the assumption which has emerged in response to Anne Enright's Booker win, the assumption that major arts prizes should reward works which 'excite the mass market' rather than those which have failed to sell.

He reminds us that such prizes exist to 'promote the kind of work which audiences are reluctant to find otherwise', and that the Booker 'is a marketing device for fiction that doesn't get an advertising budget.'

He points out too that many writers who are now bestsellers only gained attention through being shortlisted for the Booker, and that 'almost all art now considered significant could have been condemned for being "out of touch" with the bourgeoisie of the period.'

And this is the cause of such a mistaken assumption, he says:
'What has happened is that the spread of market economics across most political shadings has encouraged scepticism about cultural subsidy, whether it's the BBC licence fee or Arts Council grants. The result is that works of art are judged by the weight of public interest.'
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