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Supply-and-demand art? The poll results are in

October 21, 2008 |  9:00 am

It seems all of the country's pollsters are busy taking the temperature of the American people leading up to the presidential election -- do they keep calling you during dinner, too?

So a little over a week ago -- and without rudely invading your personal space -- Culture Monster conducted its own poll, on a topic that doesn't have to be decided on Nov. 4 but on which our readers seem to have strong opinions:  Should arts groups be willing to call it their mission to preserve the arts community as a whole, even if that means merging with another -- or, in the extreme, shutting down altogether?

Specifically, we asked: Should struggling arts groups sacrifice themselves for the greater good?

Craig_smith_color Culture Monster did not dream up this question; rather, it came to us in a communication by a fellow artsmonster, Craig Smith, classical music and arts critics for the Santa Fe New Mexican.

On Oct. 10, we posted our poll, and for the next week or so the results bounced around like the Dow Jones index. But as of the arbitrary cutoff point of Monday, 58% of those who responded said yes and 42% said no, with comments ranging from "Amen to Craig Smith" to the rather blunt "what a dumb idea" (check out the comments here).

Writes Smith: "I appreciate the responses. ... I still believe that's the best way to go, and that properly handled would yield more performances or museum shows rather than less ... for a nonprofit to shut down and pass on assets to another group or groups would never be my first suggestion; but if a group is terminal, and only harming the local arts community by doggedly existing, then closure should be caregully considered. Cauterize to save the whole, and remember that you exist for your audiences and the future as well as yourself."

Of course, speaking of polls, perhaps the arts organizations could take a tip from our presidential and vice presidential candidates and, instead of shutting down when the numbers look bad, put in a special guest appearance on "Saturday Night Live."

-- Diane Haithman

Photo: Craig Smith. Credit: Santa Fe New Mexican