The cultural center of the world : art, finance, and globalization in late twentieth-century New York


This article explores why New York City’s municipal government, together with private benefactors, poured an unprecedented amount of money into the arts during the 1980s, a time of broader austerity. While other public expenditures saw dramatic cuts, the arts were considered essential to the city’s future as a center for global capital—as a way to lure financial elites and young professionals to the city, create new forms of revenue-raising consumption, and cement New York’s reputation as the ultimate global city. New York had always had a vital arts scene. But in the 1980s, the arts were monetized in new ways to serve capital—and capitalists. Arts and culture were central to the new urban lifestyle that helped produce the explosion of global finance. But as arts and culture increasingly came to be associated with a luxury lifestyle, the arts themselves became a luxury, inaccessible to most New Yorkers

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