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Chapter Cultural Entrepreneurship

CRI 100 Chapter Notes - Chapter Cultural Entrepreneurship: Aestheticism, Pauperism, Boston Art Club

Creative Industries
Course Code
CRI 100
Dr.Louis Etienne Dubois
Cultural Entrepreneurship

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CRI 100 09/09/16
Week 1 Readings
Cultural entrepreneurship in 19th century boston: the creation of an
organizational base for high culture in America
o Sociological and political discussions of culture have been stated on a strong contrast between
high and popular culture.
o The distinction between the two has been implicit in the discussion of public policy towards
culture in the UK and the US.
à The American distinction between high and popular culture emerged in between 1850-
1990 out of the efforts of urban elites to build organizational forms that isolated and
differentiated “high culture” from popular culture.
à The private or semi-private, non-profit cultural institution and the commercial popular-
culture industry.
o These organizational models shaped the role that cultural institutions would play.
o Boston in the 19th century was the most
active center of American culture
and its elite the
Boston Brahmins – constituted the most well defined status group of any of the urban upper
o Boston prior to the 1850s – a culture defined by pulpit; a collection of artistic efforts, amateurish
by modern standards.
o At this time, effort was rarely made to distinguish between art and entertainment; culture and
o There were little boundaries in the arts in Boston; Harvard’s Pierian Sodality mixed popular songs
with student compositions and works by European fine-art composers.
o Throughout this period, most of Boston
was in the hands of
commercial entrepreneurs
(the two exceptions were the Handel and Haydn Society and the Harvard Musical Association).
o The visual arts were also organized largely on a commercial basis in this time; popular
entertainments were offered for affordable prices, Moses Kemball’s Boston Museum was
founded as a commercial venture and exhibited works by painters alongside Chinese curiosities,
stuffed animals, etc.
o There was a common promiscuous combination of genres that would today be considered
o By 1910, high and popular culture were encountered far less frequently in the same settings.
o The distinction between true art, distributed by not-for-profit corporations managed by artistic
professionals and governed by prosperous trustees, and sponsored by entrepreneurs and
distributed to the market to the consumer, had taken a form that is still present today
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CRI 100 09/09/16
Week 1 Readings
Cultural Capitalists:
those who sacralise art, define high culture and popular culture and
institutionalize this classification.
; founded the museums and the symphony orchestras that embodied the high-
cultural ideal. Their wealth came from the management of these industrial enterprises.
; they then, in turn, invested some of these profits in the foundation and
maintenance of distinctly cultural enterprises.
à These individuals were collectors of “cultural capital” (knowledge and familiarity with styles
and genres that are socially valued and bring prestige to those who have mastered them).
o The modern day American society cultural capital has drawn its origin from these beginnings.
o To create an institutional high culture, Boston’s upper class had to accomplish three concurrent
but distinct projects:
– the creation of an organizational form that could be
controlled and governed.
– clear, defined boundaries between art and entertainment.
– the development of a new relationship between the audience and
the work of art.
o Boston’s concentrated unity of the economic, cultural elite and its many prominent institutions
made it unique among America’s cities.
o Yet, at the end of the Civil War, Boston lacked the organizational arrangements needed to
sustain a public “high culture”.
o High culture failed to develop in the city prior to the 1870s because the organizational models
though which art was distributed lacked the ability to define and sustain such a body and a view
of art.
à The three major organizational models – the for-profit firm, the co-operative enterprise,
and the communal association – was flawed.
o The line dividing non-profit, co-operative, for-profit and public enterprise were not as defined in
the 19th century as they would become in the 20th.
o By the late 19th century, communal associations such as the Handel and Haydn Society and the
Athenaeum, could not claim to speak for the community as a whole, even if they chose to.
à Each represented only a fraction of the elite.
o The culture of an elite status group must be monopolized, legitimate and sacralised and Boston’s
cultural capitalists would have to find a form able to achieve all these aims; a single
organizational base for each art form, serving the community.
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