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Pain in the arts
Contributor: Mike de Sousa, Director, AbleStable®

The following article first appeared at Mike de Sousa's personal web site, and represents his personal views
about the relationship between contemporary art and the general public.

Kick start: devil's advocate
This article uses the word 'art' to mean visual arts, music, drama, dance, and literature. The phrase 'art critic' is meant as one who critiques any of the above art forms.

Art as pastime
The relevance and importance of art and artists in the Western world continues to diminish. Contemporary art is pursued by a small minority of practitioners and followers as it continues in its transformation from cultural necessary to minority pastime.

Dividing line
Music, visual art, literature, and drama are crucial in helping us express, define, and debate the world we experience. However, the general public will continue to feel dislocated and disillusioned by contemporary art so long as artists, art critics, and arts institutions view them as other and lesser than them.

The language of art
The use of exclusive language to assert cultural status serves to distance the general public: a piece of pottery is craft, while a piece of ceramic is art. Craft is less; art, more. Artworks are too often defined by the dubious judgments of artists and critics, and not by their value and relevance to the general public.

The art of prejudice
The amateur or nonprofessional artist is in general frowned upon by the arts community, except that is, if their work is of use for the professional artist to parody, satirise, or patronise. The feeling of mutual distrust between the artist and non-artist is fueled by the culture of exclusivity which defines contemporary art. Art must become accessible and inclusive if it is to regain its position as a vital component of our daily existence.

The art of value
While artists may enjoy an instinctive, innate aesthetic experience of life which is different than non-artists, the belief that this difference is necessarily of greater value than the experiences of ordinary people is illusory.

The art of the new
Originality, novelty, and the ability to surprise or shock, assume a primary importance, and this desire to feed the ego stifles the development of worthwhile content.

Good art, bad art
Popular film and music are among a raft of cultural activities that are often excluded from inclusion in a definition of contemporary art. They are often classified by the contemporary arts community as entertainment or pastimes, and by implication not merely different, but of less interest and worth.

Good art is a personal matter mostly defined by taste and circumstance, and less by the views of others.

A better place
Art requires an audience. The audience is a part of art's nature as time is to music. As the audience of contemporary art declines and our spiritual infrastructure crumbles, art must connect to survive, and connect to the many, not the few.

Authors background
Mike de Sousa is the Director of AbleStable®. Mike has been commissioned as an artist, music composer, photographer, print and web site designer, and author.

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