I heard some interesting things in the conferences today, but so far the first couple of days seem to have an emerging theme - more resources (read: more money!) are needed for the arts and cultural institutions. And I could not agree more. This seems to be a very contemporary problem. Modern, western countries all seem to be at the same point of cutting funding for most things cultural. Not just here in Italy and Europe, but in the U.S. too. My question is - why? Why have we evolved (or devolved) into a mass culture that somehow seems not to believe in the investment of art and culture (or more specifically - into the investment of only a specific set of highly commercialized culture - like Hollywood movies or "talent" shows). Why is it the general public no longer seem to think that the arts and culture enrich everyone's lives?
It is a huge question and not something I am going to answer in a short blog post. But I do have a lot of ideas about the subject, and hopefully one day I will write them down more coherently. Some quick observations on possible reasons - art has been too easily politicized and used to divide people - especially in the U.S. And in Italy (from what I have learned from Italian friends) I would say the shorter answer is that the people expect these things to be taken care of by the state, as they always were in the past. But the "state" is not the same as it was obviously when most of these things we now take for granted (like the Uffizi, or the Palazzo Vecchio) were created.
Anyway, the conference today about Museums got me thinking of these topics. I saw briefly an interesting technology that I think was being used in Rome (in the Maxxi Museo) - the museum is actually using facial recognition software to gather demographic information on visitors... a bit too intrusive to me! I would like to learn more details about that program.