A Socialist’s view of our Arts and culture



The Daily Blog used the above illustration in a post about NZ Art funding. I have always found socialists to be snobs when it comes to what they define as being our arts and culture. Under capitalism popular art and culture thrives and artists are financially well rewarded for their success. Under socialism art and culture that is not popular is propped up by other people’s money.


Culture is a fluid and changing thing. New Zealand cultural practices today are not the same as one hundred years ago. We don’t dress the same we don’t eat the same. A very small minority want to watch the ballet these days let alone pay for the privilege but many will happily pay to watch a game of rugby. As for opera most New Zealanders would rather listen to modern music made by their favourite singer or band.



As an English teacher I found it amusing that we were forcing Shakespeare down the throats of our New Zealand children when for his day he was no more than the equivalent of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Can you imagine the musical ‘ Cats ‘ ending up being analysed by future generations in the same way William Shakespeare’s plays have?

Lloyd Webber pictured with Elaine Paige on the opening night of Cats in 1981

Lloyd Webber pictured with Elaine Paige on the opening night of Cats in 1981

Shakespeare was a popular writer. He succeeded because his plays appealed to the masses.He wasn’t kept financially afloat by the government he sold enough tickets to be self employed. Shakespeare was a businessman.

Hoarder, moneylender, tax dodger — it’s not how we usually think of William Shakespeare.

But we should, according to a group of academics who say the Bard was a ruthless businessman who grew wealthy dealing in grain during a time of famine.

Researchers from Aberystwyth University in Wales argue that we can’t fully understand Shakespeare unless we study his often-overlooked business savvy.

“Shakespeare the grain-hoarder has been redacted from history so that Shakespeare the creative genius could be born,” the researchers say in a paper due to be delivered at the Hay literary festival in Wales in May.


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