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date: 23 January 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Public culture in the United States fails at diversity. Due to historical circumstance, disparities in the accumulation and use of wealth, long-standing tradition, and a hundred years of governmental policies, the cultural preferences of a small and powerful minority is promoted to the virtual exclusion of all others. ‘Culture’ in the United States has been defined and represented to all Americans to exclusively mean the red-carpet ‘classical’ arts. The cultures of Blacks, Latinos, Asians—and most Whites—are not included or welcomed. So pervasive is this system of elitism, that it calls into question the legitimacy of public art practice in the United States. Is the American public cultural sector, taken as a whole—with community music a distinct component—an intrinsically racist enterprise? This chapter examines our exclusionary history and its trajectory in community arts, and offers the concept and practice of cultural democracy as an alternative.

Keywords: cultural equity, cultural democracy, racial inequity, arts funding inequities, foundation giving patterns, public culture, public arts, individual arts donors

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