by John Stoehr
I tend to see the breakdown of mainstream media and the continue pace of globalization as part of the general breakdown of cultural divides and geographic monopolies. Thanks to the ubiquity of internet technology, talent, intelligence, and creativity are no longer solely concentrated in the traditional hubs of culture, like LA and New York.
Of course, LA and New York will always be LA and New York, and I wouldn't have them otherwise. But smaller places are also experiencing surges of creativity (like Chucktown, S.C.), as the means of communicating change, as lifestyles change, and as our definitions of creativity itself change.
To put it in more socio-economic terms: The United States continues to de-industrialize its workforce. Media paradigms continue to fragment and diversify. Communities, organizations, and institutions continue to be plural and multicultural. And there is movement away from the idea of mass culture (what might be in retrospect a historical anomaly) and toward one that is more in line with people's real lives.
We were all these things all along. These changes affect the arts and the people making art, too. Now you don't have to pay NYC apartment prices to be an artist. You can live anywhere. And with the country's push over the past 40 years to make art accessible to everyone everywhere, we are now seeing, as critic Doug McLennan puts it, the rise of an arts culture.
But now, thanks for global communications and "quantum computers" (these are what allow us to buy computers with hundreds of gigabytes for relatively little expense instead of the big bucks for just two or three gigabytes less than a decade ago). Throw in a little bit of luck and pluck and a group like the New Music Ensemble of Grand Valley State University in rural Michegan is able to get the attention of the New York Times.