July 21, 2016 Leave a comment
Without public schools forcing students to read excruciatingly awful novels like The Stone Angel on a massive scale, Canadian authors like Margaret Atwood would probably sell far fewer books.
We should remember this when we read stories about Margaret Atwood’s approval of a new Ontario government policy that will force public school students to read even more boring books by Canadian authors.
Assuming no more than self-interest, artists, like most people, will tend to welcome subsidies that benefit themselves. It’s the model of corporate welfare applied to the artistic world. When they say it will “strengthen arts and culture,” remember there is no reason to believe that “good” arts and culture will prevail as the new learning material for children. Likewise in the corporate welfare scenario, subsidies to, say, the auto industry will be claimed to “strengthen the economy and domestic industry” even though economics tells us the opposite is true.
To the extent it survives on government money, art is a welfare program. The entire process of deciding what novels should be studied in public schools is completely political and thus likely to produce bad outcomes. Sometimes you get lucky and a real treasure comes out of the system, but the results tend to be bad. By relying on the government to “strengthen arts and culture”, you can be assured the arts and culture will be get worse while kids consider drinking bleach to avoid being forced to read books like The Stone Angel.