David Thomas of Pere Ubu

David Thomas of Pere Ubu

Briah Doherty at Reason.com shares the following extract from an interview by Big Takeover with David Thomas of the punk band Pere Ubu (whose motto is “Art is forever, the audience comes & goes.”):

I remember reading provocative quotes from you – and I’m sorry, I can’t pin down where – where you made statements about the vitality of art produced in free market societies, as opposed to art that is state funded.

You came across as a bit of a libertarian. I try not to take anything you say at face value – I think of you as a provocateur – but I wonder if you actually still feel that way? (Because if so, there’s, umm, some irony to the band being mostly based in Europe these days, since state support of the arts is prevalent over there… and in Canada, I might add).

Yes, I still feel that way. I’ll take the dirty socialized art money but I prefer crummy little clubs where there’s a promoter who is risking his own money to put the show on. I feel no urge to thank an audience. I thank the promoter – as should the audience.

Follow up re “dirty socialized money” – is this less a matter of political principle for you, and more a matter of personal pride as an artist?

I think the government has no business in the arts at all.

Follow up: do you not think it valid, in countries that cannot compete on equal footing with the American entertainment industry, like Canada, to support their artists through government funding?

I doubt there’s a Canadian musician, filmmaker, writer, or novelist who hasn’t received some government support along the way, be it scholarships, grants, fellowships, things like the Canada Council.

No, see above.

Follow-up: In a purely market driven entertainment landscape, which is mostly what we see in the States, doesn’t that lead to the proliferation of Miley Cyruses and Britney Spears and other such phenomenon?

Isn’t it bad for art?

No, it’s good for them.

Here’s a video of the band doing their kooky stuff:

HT: Dr Anna Blainey Warner