The greatest challenge facing us in the next two decades will be to bridge the divide between commerce, the arts and the media. The implications of the current split are wide-ranging and devastating. On the one hand there is the media’s failure to grant the role of the corporation, financial markets and financial regulation in shaping our everyday lives the prominence it deserves. On the other hand there is the assumption that for a work of art to be a huge financial success somehow detracts from its artistic and aesthetic achievement and value.
For too long British news and current affairs programmes have relied on Westminster gossip whilst ignoring the often far more important, both positive and negative, impact of commerce on our everyday lives. As a lecturer in the arts, it is fascinating to see that many of my students view the prospect of entering the financial world as anathema, preferring instead to focus on traditional media routes such as TV runner or trainee journalist. If the chasm in perception between finance and the arts can be bridged, it will provide a more flexible and compelling range of career choices to university leavers, encouraging them to think laterally about the range of jobs they might be suited to. In Britain it is easy to forget that the City’s role as a global financial powerhouse is as impressive as our national cultural output and that involvement in either can be a true vocation.
My recent book, Selling Shakespeare to Hollywood, specifically examines the tension between art and commerce, high and low culture, which marked the production of Hollywood filmed Shakespeare adaptations at the end of the last century. It is to be hoped that from the beginning of this century onwards the tension will become a more productive relationship, less a conflict and more a symbiosis.
Emma French is author of Selling Shakespeare to Hollywood: The Marketing of Filmed Shakespeare Adaptations from 1989 into the New Millennium (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA))