In today’s strained environment for arts support, the funding wonderland of Norway can incite jealousy. Yes, Norway is an oil-rich country; it also allots a respectable percentage of its oil wealth to pioneering art, making it a model for exactly what well-spent money for the arts can engender.
Especially in jazz. Public support has helped the country’s improvised-music scene expand from a handful of artists in the late ’60s to a thriving network of recording, performing and educational opportunities today. It’s not perfect, of course; I’ll address some chinks in Norway’s funding armor. But the country’s improvised music flourishes largely on public support."
I’ve never understood why jazz and classical music are consider fine art, ripe for public funding, while more contemporary expressions are generally not. I’ve thought of this as an American phenomenon in the past, but it isn’t.
Now that shows I recall seeing in the early 1990’s (that video was just a part of the performance, fyi) are being blandly and drudgingly imitated by some of today’s video artists, I wonder if this is simply a result of limited thinking. Unfamiliarity with a genre, especially a rapidly-changing one, leads critics and art communities to dismiss creative and exciting work until it can be categorized and anointed as officially “art.”
[I should add that I would frankly greatly prefer to hear Norwegian jazz than the thriving Norwegian black metal. While the immaturity of most black metal disqualify it from having an “art” label, its relentless literalism and pedantry could potentially overcome that. Perhaps, as a positive outcome, an embrace from the art world could cause its murderous nationalists to flee the popular music and culture scene.]
Still, it is interesting to see an imported genre of American music evolve as official “art” in another country. I can’t help but wonder how or whether the embrace of official art culture can lead, there as here in the US, to innovation instead of embalming.