Examining Inequality in the Arts

By Patrick Kabanda

There is nothing new about the nature and scope of inequality engulfing the world today. Still, notwithstanding the ‘starving artist’ mantra—which has become an acceptable truism—inequality in the arts is rarely examined. This discussion aims to shed light on that issue by looking at the music industry, photography and cultural diversity as it makes the following points: Studying the music industry can effectively teach us about the winner-take-all economy, given the way the confluence of technology, globalization and superstar markets have fueled greater income disparities for artists. Examining gender bias in photography, a medium that often shapes our world, similarly can help us view inequality from a holistic perspective. And scrutinizing Hollywood’s global dominance can bring our attention to the responsibility to uphold cultural diversity. In the battle to curb inequality in the arts and beyond, there is a need to continually collect and analyze data and, among other things, commission creative work to inspire an inclusive world. The United States of America, where inequality is increasingly becoming the trademark of a nation, presents a compelling site for inquiry.

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