Arts Blogger Challenge: Let’s Play Along!

The 2012 Great Arts Blogger Challenge is on! Spring for Music has kicked off a contest designed to find the best arts blogger in the country. Over the next month, entrants (there are 42) will post entries on 4 assigned topics.

I’m not playing along officially (I shrink from competition, and I’m a little too busy in my day job to make a respectable showing…), but it is exciting to gather the blogging community and have many writers focus on the same topics. (There’s lots of sidebar discussion about whether or not this venture is useful/legit/functional, but I don’t think it matters, really.  Any attempt to get the national conversation going is a good one.)

This week’s question: “New York City has long been considered the cultural capital of America. Is it still? If not, where?”

From an operatic perspective, New York is certainly a case study as well as a capital.

No one can touch the Met (for better or worse) and its budget of $325,000,000. (Yes, 325 million. Just had to see those zeroes.) Anyone who’s that far ahead of the rest of the pack financially is going to dominate the conversation, force setting of trends, and do things that no one else can afford to.

On the other end of the financial spectrum are the wonderful small companies where so many singers learn their trades – and these range from places doing shoestring traditional productions to companies on the cutting edge of 21st-century repertoire and aesthetics. And of course, most famously caught between a rock and a hard place that Odysseus wouldn’t envy is beloved New York City Opera – destined to play out the story of the precarious sliver where art and finance intersect in this new age.

Capital: a city regarded as being of special eminence in some field of activity. Yes, NYC still has special eminence due to quantity. Of companies, of money, of patrons. So it must be a capital.

Does it represent the best of what our industry has to offer? On a good night, yes. Does it hold a monopoly, or even an unchallenged advantage? No. Probably less so than all through the last century. And to say so doesn’t diminish what’s happening there; I just believe that there are other cities who host companies that excel in ways that have eluded New York. Do any of them usurp the throne yet? Probably not.

Check out the entrants (I haven’t read them yet but will), vote, and discuss!

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