I was thinking about the whole post Olympics review process where reporters with little interest in sports write columns analysing the performance of the national team and then break that down using dollars as the metric. They then pose the question regarding value for money.
Most of the Australian art world shrug their shoulders at the spending on sport and it has long been a source of great emotion that sport gets money where art does not. That was where my thinking got started. I then mused about art being one corner of a triangle with sport on another and then entertainment on the other, with a grey area of convergence in the middle somewhere.
Certainly aspects of art have become entertainment and aspects of sport certainly have too. Is this a recent phenomenon or has it always been that way? Are we now connecting with art and sport through the eye of entertainment? How many of the successful sports eschew the entertainment angle? Or is it seen as axiomatic? And the same line of thought with art.
Is the measure of success at the Olympics just in rare metals or is there some other measure? Equally what is the measure for art? Is it attendances, or column inches or cocktail party buzz? From there I started to think that maybe the measure of success starts to look like; to what extent either of those pursuits crosses over into the entertainment sphere and becomes day-to-day consumption for whoever is the average Australian. That’s where it started to get fuzzy for me.
It got fuzzy because it started to sound truer than true. Opera only works if people, and lots of people go to see it. Great films are only great if people watch them and sport is only able to grow if it is either watched or played by a growing number of people. In order to make those things happen marketers need to be able to reach into the entertainment sphere and attract more people somehow. These pursuits then, are looked upon as part of that sphere more so than for their pure artistry or team pursuit or whatever the original paradigm.
So the success of the Olympics may well be rare metals but it is more likely to be measured in spectators on TVs around the world. I’m not saying its right. But it does start to resonate doesn’t it? So what does that mean for the future of art and sport for the common man. Is art for art’s sake or sport for sport’s sake doomed or does it mean that it will never grow much larger than as a pursuit for purists. Hmmm I need to think about that for a little while longer.