—Clive James

Art now is considered an elective, an add-on, a luxury. It’s easy to forget that this has not always been the case. In the U.S.S.R. during the worst of the dictatorship “of the people” it was art that mattered. I forget that people were painting and sculpting and writing sonnets before they had central heating, or anesthesia, or any easy way to kill those fleas. Whereas, in the event of a cataclysm, I fear that our nation might work its way back through the discovery of electricity, the installation of shopping malls, and drive deep into a second obesity epidemic, before anybody paid three-pence for a sonnet.

Entertainment, we value. Entertainment is sometimes art. But we expect entertainment to pay its own way. And I’m not referring here to that tiresome polarizing and repetitive argument about government funding. Government has funded great art and also horrors. There are many ways to pay for art. But you need to pay. For centuries men and women have paid for their artistic choices by living in poverty and shame. Many artists have paid with their lives.