The Arts in a Time of Recession

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The current economic crisis has had a profound effect on the social life of nations. Unemployment, crime, suicide, family stability, child and adult well-being are all affected by the recent economic downturn. What is often less measured, certainly less documented, is the impact that recessions have on the arts.

This paper explores how the arts are affected by the current economic crisis. How has the financial meltdown altered patterns within the arts – in terms of offerings, in terms of participation? With more frequent theatrical closings, fewer art exhibitions, less money invested in the arts, what impact does this have on the public engagement with the arts? Do some arts thrive during recessions – less costly activities such as movies, books? How do the arts seek to represent the recession and economic hard times?

To portray the social impact of the economic recession we offer the concept of social recession. We argue that when a significant number of social conditions worsen, all at the same time, nations may experience what may be thought of as a social recession. This applies not only to social problems, but to the arts as well. The experience of loss, greater insecurity, and diminished expectations that accompany an economic recession have parallels in our social and cultural life. The interaction between the social and economic crises is an important area of contemporary concern.


Keywords: Arts, Recession, Economic Recession, Social Recession
Stream: Arts Policy, Management and Advocacy
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: The Arts in a Time of Recession, , , ,


Dr. Marque-Luisa Miringoff

Professor, Sociology Department, Vassar College
Poughkeepsie, New York, USA

Marque-Luisa Miringoff, Ph.D., is Professor of Sociology at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, and director of the Institute for Innovation in Social Policy. She has served as Chair of the Sociology Department and Director of the Urban Studies Program at Vassar College. She co-authored America’s Social Health: Putting Social Issues Back on the Public Agenda with Sandra Opdycke and The Social Health of the Nation: How America Is Really Doing with Marc Miringoff and helped lead the team that developed the Index of Social Health as well as the National Social Survey; The Social Health of the States; The Social Report; Arts, Culture, and the Social Health of the Nation; and Profile of Participation in Arts and Culture in New York City.

Ref: A09P0578