The Business of Creativity

Houchin Consulting PLLC


Posted on | February 20, 2006 | No Comments

Another quote in the March issue of Fast Company Magazine got me thinking this weekend. Fast Company says it’s a “good call.” Here’s the quote:

“First came the aristocracy, an elite based on bloodline. Then came the meritocracy, an elite based on academic achievement. Next will be what I’d call an ‘artocracy,’ an elite based on mastery of visual arts, music, and drama.” The person cited as the author of the quote is Daniel H. Pink (author of the books A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information age to the Conceptual Age, and Free Agent Nation.

I have not read those books, but I’m going to do so as soon as I can.

While I believe that education must return to more of a liberal arts/problem-solving focus, I have a hard time with the concept of any sort of “cracy” – an elite of any kind really kind of bothers me. Maybe that feeling comes from being raised on a hog farm in Iowa. My background is far from “elite” – at least in my mind. While we didn’t have a lot of money, I went to a good public school (47 people in my graduating class – 25 of us went to kindergarden together), and I was never hungry. I have to recognize that there are milllions of people in the world that would consider my childhood “elite”… While elitism bothers me, I’m not an advocate of forced mediocracy – kids should get graded on tests.

The problem I have with this quote is that in order to become elite based on a mastery of the visual arts, music, and drama a person probably has to have time to practice. Time to practice means time away from earning money to pay the rent – at least until the practice has paid off and the arts in question bring in enough money to pay the bills that add up while the person is off practicing.

Who’s to pay the bills in the interim? The patron of the artist is still the elite until the artist makes the “big time”. Who is that patron, in this age, probably someone from the aristocracy (who made their money the old-fashioned way – inhertance) or from the mertitocracy. And, when you really think about it, isn’t becoming an elite artists really just a form of merit-based respect.

No, I don’t think “meritocracy” will be REPLACED by “artocracy” – it will simply be (and is already) subdivided into different categories of earned, merit-based, respect.


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