The arts are a reflection of our society, of its concerns, of its aspirations, of its possibilities. In every respect, it is also a challenge to our society. Those are its roles, and sometimes those roles become crusty. It was Ed Steinmetz who said a good writer is as a second government in his own country which is why the government generally supports mediocrity rather than real talent. What is he saying? He is saying that the role of the arts is to challenge, is to question. It is not simply to pat on the back and support and wave. There are many, many responsibilities that it has, one of which is to question our society as it exists, and lead it to the possibility of making other choices. Sometimes, it isn’t to say that every artist is correct in his projection, but at least the challenge is there. Answer it again. There are times when you step on a toe, and if that toe is as influential as a few toes were, then you may have a bumpy time. But that does not change the role of the arts. And any true artist will not be changed by it.
It may change, which it has, the economic support of the arts in this country, and that’s unfortunate.