Thursday, September 22, 2011

Haydn Seek: Non-User Value of the Arts

As I was driving the short people into school, our classical music station was having its fundraiser. The case they were making was an interesting one combining claims about the value it has for those who listen and a claim about the value it has for the larger community, even for those who do not listen.

There are certainly clear cut cases in which such claims hold true. I may not use but a tiny bit of the physical infrastructure of the country myself, but I benefit from roads I do not drive on. The fact that we can depend on these roads' existence creates an atmosphere conducive to a larger commercial realm that allows for the manufacture of some of the items I do want and for there to be a market where i can find them. I and those I care about may not study at most universities and colleges or read the papers that come from the scholars there, but the existence of a robust intellectual, research, and educational community benefits the culture in many indirect ways we never consider.

Is the same true of the arts? Does having a vibrant artistic community engaged in creating, performing, and making available artistic endeavors provide an indirect benefit for those who do not partake in them? If so, feel free to send in a contribution to WBJC.