World Economic Forum examines the role of arts

Posted on: February 19, 2010

“The topic was weighty: how music can save the world,” writes Daniel J. Wakin Thursday (2/18) on the New York Times blog ArtsBeat. “The talk ranged across the role of conservatories, the definition of art and music’s capacity to heal. The World Economic Forum convened a panel discussion at Carnegie Hall Thursday on arts leadership. … The session plunged immediately into the esoteric, with the moderator, Erwann Michel-Kerjan, a Wharton School professor at the University of Pennsylvania, asking what the difference was between art and entertainment. ‘Art is a necessity and entertainment is a luxury,’ Deborah Borda answered succinctly. Ms. Borda is president of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Art is enduring, said James D. Wolfensohn, the former president of the World Bank and former chairman of Carnegie Hall. … Several people on the panel took note of the fact that the subsidies, from wealthy patrons, are tougher to come by in the United States because the recently rich are often more focused on contributing to causes like public health, where results are easier to measure. Ms. Borda said the three most depressing letters to hear at foundations are ROI: return on investment. Members of the panel noted that the return on music is hard to quantify. They all wanted to make the case for why music is important. When all is lost in a natural disaster, say, all that is left is the spirit, Ms. [Strategic Investment Group Chief Executive and Youth Orchestra of the Americas Chairman Hilda] Ochoa-Brillembourg said.”

Posted February 19, 2010