American Culture


American Culture
The American culture, born primarily of cultures from the British Isles (England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales), Germany and African slaves, has quickly developed over two centuries that followed its independence. Currently, she is an influential culture almost anywhere in the world. Its rapid expansion is often associated with globalization (see Americanization). According to its critics, American culture is either a sub-culture, a culture is too young, an imperialist culture, or a mixture of all three. According to his defenders (including Americans), it promotes the values of freedom and personal responsibility. Almost nobody disputes the fact that American culture has had and still has a great influence on the contemporary world.

Towards an American culture
In colonial times, the culture of the Thirteen Colonies is strongly influenced by England. Universities, architecture, painting are often carried out by English artists. The works meet the British guns. The artistic achievement are less abundant than in Europe. The puritans who settle in New England banning ornaments redundant churches. The pragmatic attitude of the pioneers and merchants, which lasts until the twentieth century, keeps the art for a pointless and futile. For many patriots, culture is the preserve of aristocrats and kings, far from any democratic aspiration.

In the late eighteenth century, with the birth of the USA, artists are beginning to consider the possibility of a proper American culture. The political rupture with England, consequential development of a specifically American spirit, causes a slow change of culture. Nevertheless, the works U.S. remain very close to European models until the twentieth century. The formation of any American painter passing through a stay in Europe. The architecture takes the forms of ancient Greece and the Georgian style, while introducing some elements of U.S. gasoline. This quest for a national culture through the definition of American exceptionalism.

At the end of the nineteenth century, culture is monopolized by an elite educated and rich. It is financed by the philanthropy magnates (Andrew Carnegie) and patronage, while governments do not practically, in accordance with liberal ideas.

Between the wars
In the first half of the twentieth century, culture is democratizing the USA: the advancement of education, the emergence of new media (radio, television), the gradual emancipation of women and African-Americans upset the landscape American cultural. In New York, the Harlem Renaissance announces the renewal of the African-American culture, especially in literature. The emergence of phonographs permit the dissemination of new music, jazz.

The Great Depression caused massive unemployment among artists and writers of the 1930's. The New Deal established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt has a cultural component to help artists in difficulty. The Works Projects Administration (1935) initiates many projects in the arts and literature, especially the five programmes of the famous Federal One. At the end of the New Deal, the record is mixed: while American artists were supported by public funds and gained national recognition, this cultural policy is interrupted by World War II and the death of Roosevelt.

Cultural transformations in the twentieth century
It was not until the second half of the twentieth century to see a consolidation of literature and art as American as well as attempts by federal cultural policy. These changes occur in the context of the Cold War between the Soviet Union the USA: competition is ideological, military and technological, but it also affects the cultural field. The USSR sent the first man in space and homeland itself intellectuals and artists. The art becomes a means of propaganda in both camps. The federal government is taking against the foot of the Soviet model: there will be no ministry of culture and centralized American art will be encouraged to grow and spread throughout the world, including through Voice of America and the Marshall Plan. To overcome the financial crisis experienced by many museums and theatres, subsidies will still be distributed.

The aftermath of World War II saw the emergence and success of an artistic, abstract expressionism. This art which was avant-garde, cosmopolitan and apolitical fact move heart of modern art from Paris to New York. However, abstract expressionism raises debates within the American political class. The Republicans violently attack this course and accused of being communist. In Congress, they also denounce the federal funds that are allocated to the expressionist painters. But they are supported by the MoMA in New York, itself funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. In 1952, the museum also organizes an international global dissemination of abstract expressionism.

The early 1950 is shaken by the maccarthisme: artists suspected of communist sympathies became the subject of investigations ( "witch-hunt"). On the blacklist containing the names of 15 000 people [4] included inter alia George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ernest Hemingway. Several writers s'insurgèrent against the maccarthisme. Thus in 1953, played the piece on The Witches of Salem in Arthur Miller, a means to stigmatize the current policy.

The National Endowment for the Arts was established in 1964. The federal cultural agency subsidizes artists and cultural institutions across the country. After a peak in the years 1970, the NEA is then weakened by budget cuts and by the culture wars.

The 1960's were also marked by an intense cultural ferment the USA: The Americans who are pursuing studies are increasingly numerous. The generation of baby boomers form a youth who consumes new cultural products. Students and artists committed against the Vietnam War.

From the years 1970, the ethnic composition of the U.S. population change radically, causing a change of culture. The President Jimmy Carter tries to solve social problems in the ghettos through the neighborhood communities and culture. This policy allows the opening of cultural institutions and museums in the disadvantaged sectors. In the rest of the country, emphasis is placed on access to culture in all regions and actions towards ethnic minorities.

In the years 1980, the arrival in power of conservatives, the reactivation of the Cold War and the revival of evangelism accompany the culture wars: these controversies and these tensions are triggered as a result of controversial exhibitions of photographs and financed by the NEA. The photographs are about homosexuality and represent scenes erotic, pornographic and sado-masochistic (Robert Mapplethorpe). The associations are fighting conservative works such as Piss Christ by Andres Serrano, a photograph depicting a crucifix immersed in urine of the artist. The play by Terrence MacNally Corpus Christi is controversial because it proposes a Jesus having homosexual relations with his disciples. The culture wars cause censorship of works funded by the NEA. An anti-obscenity clause is put in place for any artist wishing to receive federal aid.

Actors and policies of American culture
The American culture is decentralized: the federal government has little in culture, except through the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). There is no ministry of culture in Washington DC, to avoid any centralization and official art. Also, the American cultural policy can be seen as extremely fragmented among thousands of players.

The Cultural Affairs are generally the responsibility of local agencies at the level of state, counties, municipalities:

* The level of 50 states, the budget provides a culture in the State of New York, the cultural budget is approximately $ 50 million per year. If we add all cultural spending States, we get a total of $ 330 million. This money is spent by agencies (State Art Agency) as the New York State Arts Council, created in 1960 or the Department of Cultural Affairs at NM. They support artists and projects very diverse, ranging from festivals, heritage, through folk art. Culture is also financed by other public agencies who work for States: the State Historic Preservation Offices dealing with heritage, Humanities Councils help researchers and writers, State Library Services subsidize libraries are also places conservation and exposure, and so on. The policy of Percent for Art is to devote one hundred years of any new construction budget to public art (public art): the first example was that of the city of Philadelphia in 1959. In Chicago, it is in this framework that was installed a sculpture by Picasso in front of City Hall and began the exposure of cows (CowParade), which attracted one million visitors.

* Municipalities are also involved in the culture: there are a total of 4 000 cultural agencies across the country [15]. They deal mainly cinema, festivals, museums and libraries. The Department of Cultural Affairs of the City of New York has an annual budget of $ 131 million per year and manages 34 cultural institutions in the city (museums, conservatories, theaters, etc.).

* The neighbourhood communities are taking initiatives on artistic and educational. They are the foundation of the art of political districts is to revitalize the inner city or difficult by culture. The culture is usually the result of institutions "private" (with funds not from the public budget and which are not run by officials) but with a status of non-profit organization and missions of general interest . Cultural institutions such as museums, theatres, symphony orchestras, libraries are able to escape the constraints of the market. The communities are ideal places for setting up independent subcultures, they organize in the Community Development Corporations established under Jimmy Carter and receiving aid (including foundations) and enjoy tax exemptions. Through their cultural and educational programmes, their choirs, churches run the troubled neighbourhood. An estimated 2.5 million people came out of ghettos between 1990 and 2000, thanks in part to ward communities.

* Loobies cultural and unions representing the interests of artists and are lobbying the U.S. Congress. The Actor's Equity Association protects the rights of actors. The Americans for the Arts, headed by Robert Lynch, is currently the main cultural lobby in the USA.

* Finally, civil society and individuals are other key players in American culture. Philanthropy is an American tradition that dates back at least to the nineteenth century and which funds much of the culture. The two philanthropists are more famous Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) and John Davison Rockefeller (1839-1937) and their foundations continue to help American culture.

The USA is the first country in the world for volunteering [22]: 93 million Americans the practice to varying degrees. The American volunteer is particularly developed in the arts and contributes to the functioning of many cultural institutions: for example, about 1 500 people work for free for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The volunteer missions are varied: to ensure the promotion of cultural institution in the city, dealing with branches, guide visitors to museums, and so on.

Budgets of culture
Government grants, awarded by U.S. government agencies, are estimated between 20 and 39 billion euros in 2005. Private financing, estimated at least 12 billion euros in 2005, comes from donations, sponsors, foundations.

At the level of the Federated States
The budget for cultural agencies of States (State Art Agencies) depends on the Congress of each State. They receive aid from the NEA, collect private funds (fundraising and use of philanthropy), establish endowments, are lobbying in the local parliaments. In some cases, states raise taxes on registration of cars (Tennessee, Alabama, Texas, Colorado, and so on). The owner can customize the plate of his car in exchange for a fee [26]. The taxes on hotels, restaurants and rental cars are also used to finance culture in the municipalities. Other revenue from sales related to tourism (guides, CD, etc.). Or lotteries run by the states (for example those of New England).

The culture is encouraged by the level of tax exemptions (for donations of artworks for gifts or money). Cultural property is often free of "value added tax (VAT) [27]: American culture is therefore helped in an indirect way. Cultural institutions also receive direct subsidies from the Federated States (line items) and municipalities.

The role of associations and foundations
There are 1.14 million non-profit associations in the USA and the non-traded sector accounts for 8.5% of GDP (against 4.2% in France). The Americans give annually 250 billion dollars the non-profit associations and these gifts are exempt from taxes. 5.4% of these donations go to culture (or 13 billion dollars). There are now 62 000 foundations in the USA which invest annually 3.6 billion dollars alone in the culture. The two most important in this field are the Ford Foundation (approximately $ 80 million per year) and the foundation Reynolds (58 million dollars per year).

The non-profit associations and foundations are financed by the interests of their endowment (staffing placed on the stock exchange) and fundraising (fundraising). Museums and galleries receive donations of works which are exempt from inheritance tax. In return, cultural institutions granting privileges to generous donors (gala dinners, places, guided tours, name of the donor on a plaque or attributed to a gallery, etc.)..

An example of financing: museums
Since the 1970's, American museums diversify their sources of income. Revenues from museums, like those of other non-profit associations, entries from visitors, the endowment (10%), corporate sponsorship and donations (35%), but also of public funds and government (approx. 25%): for example, the National Gallery of Art (Washington DC) is the only American museum directly funded by the federal state. If the temporary exhibitions are paying, access to permanent collections remains as to free him. The Institute of Museum and Library Services, created in 1976, distributes grants to public museums and libraries in the country.

In the years 1970, the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) Thomas Hoving was one of the first to enter the museum in mass culture, with the creation of major exhibitions "blockbusters", designed to attract the maximum people. It was also at that time that the "MET" equip itself with libraries, restaurants and cafes whose concession relates a lot of money. The major American museums receive many donations and also lease their works abroad.

Cultural practices
Cultural practices of Americans over 18 years in 2002 are very close to those of Europeans: 40% have made a cultural output in the year. The Americans will listen to more jazz and see musicals and films that Europeans. They are 12% to attend classical music concerts against 8% of French. The Americans read less than Europeans. It is in the west as artistic practices are the most frequent [35]. The New England remains the first region to the scene of text, music and a classic. The South is more disadvantaged. The inhabitants of remote suburbs have less access to culture than other Americans. Those few graduates, Latinos and blacks are indented for the elite culture. However, their situation is improving slowly: 5.8% while blacks were going to the theatre at least once a year in 1982, they are 12% in 1992.

Some statistics and socio-cultural
Figures from the state of the world and the 2006 book The Culture in America Frederic Martel:

* Number of artists (2002): 2 million, more than in Europe (this figure includes actors, musicians and writers)
* Number of libraries: 120 000 (either one of the highest rates in the world per capita)
* Number of museums: 17 500 (1 000 art museums)
* Number of professional dance companies: 250
* Number of symphony orchestras: 1,800 (including 900 permanent orchestras, including professional orchestras 350)
* Number of opera companies: 96
* Number of professional theatres nonprofit: 1 270
* Number of theatres Community (Blacks, Hispanics, Gays ...): 7000
* Number of doctors per 1000 inhabitants (2003): 2.93
* Enrollment 2nd degree for 100 (2003): 85.3
* 3rd degree Enrollment for 100 (2003): 81.4
* Percentage of an age group entering university: 81% (against, 54% in France) [Figure Unesco, 2001-2002]
* Number of television sets per thousand inhabitants (2003): 938
* Books published (securities) (2006): 150 000 (of which only about 1 500 in translation or nearly 1%)
* Unemployment rate actors and comedians: 35%; many have two jobs
* Cultural practices of Americans over 18 years in 2002 [35]:
o 40% have made a cultural output in the year (excluding cinema, fair, rock concert, crafts)
o 3% went to the opera
o 12% went to the theater (excluding Musical)
o 11% went to a jazz concert
o 27% attended an art museum

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