The Culture Conversation: Continued

More perspectives from eight of the cultural world’s top tastemakers.

Beau Willimon, House of Cards Creator

“My dad always said to me, any job you know how to do isn’t a job worth doing. And I think a lot of artists are drawn to things that they have no idea how to do and have a high probability of failure. If you don’t risk failure, you’re just getting in a comfortable groove and repeating yourself. We were just interested in the simple question of what is TV? We’ve got a story we want to tell about big, universal things that are not new, like power and love. We happened to be at the right place at the right time and Netflix wanted to get into the game.”

Carter Cleveland, Founder and CEO of Online Art Forum Artsy

“You can unlike something: friending, defriending, liking, unliking. It really hurts me that we have that as our ethical frame. But what so intrigues me about it is that you’re also dealing with chance, you’re dealing with randomness, and in an ideal world you’re incentivizing and catalyzing curiosity and discovery—and the possibility that you are going to change your mind.”

James Wolcott, Vanity Fair Culture Critic

“And then there are other shows that are clearly in their own world. I don’t know if you’ve seen the show True Detective; it is clearly not listening to anybody. But everything now is courting the audience—and often courting the audience in advance with previews and things like that. I think that’s going to create a tension going forward.”

James McBride, 2013 National Book Award–Winning Novelist (The Good Lord Bird); Jazz Saxophonist

“I don’t own a TV set. Not because I don’t like TV—because some of the writing on TV is fantastic—I just don’t have the self-control to turn it on and turn away. I very rarely look at the computer or go on Netflix. I don’t bother with any of that because no ideas come from that. That’s somebody else’s work. I work on my house, I’m trying to figure out how to point bricks. I learn more talking to a carpenter than I do talking to another writer or musician.”

“You don’t necessarily have to be poor to be a great artist. But I think they’ll come from a place where they reflect the hardship of American life. And the hardship of American life right now goes back to what I said before. There’s a kind of emotional wasteland.”

Claire Chase, Flutist; 2012 MacArthur Fellow; Founder of International Contemporary Ensemble

“I’m the eternal optimist. I really do think that there is a resurgence of interest and passion for the live act. And I think that it’s absolutely connected to our online experience. Whether it’s positively or negatively connected to it, they’re integrated. They’re in bed with one another. That’s either the good news or the bad news, but that’s the news.”

“I think that there’s a real resurgence of community activism within the arts. We’ve had to create alternative economies and we’ve had to create jobs for one another and ourselves. Collaborative art forms are art forms that transcend: transdisciplinary. We’re done with the terms ‘interdisciplinary’ and ‘multimedia.’ Those are so 20th century.”

Julie Taymor, Director of Theater, Opera, Film

“I lament when one technology kills another. I love shooting digital. But I am sad that the appreciation for what film looks like is not understood by the masses and they don’t see the difference.”

Damian Woetzel, Dancer; Director, Aspen Institute Arts Program and Vail International Dance Festival

“I think that a lot of what we’re talking about in culture and art is about context over the long term. What is important? What is touching something? I think back to when I danced. Jerry Robbins had a ballet where at the end of it I touched the ground. It meant everything. We touched the ground and basically stopped and then we went on. What is going to touch the ground that we live on? I think it’s about great moral quandaries and Shakespeare. I think it’s about why a note can just stop us cold—and it matters. I look for what’s going to happen to do that to me.”

Deborah Berke, Architect; Professor, Yale School of Architecture

“I think buildings do tell stories. They bring cultural associations with them. Why does Wall Street look like what it looks like? Or a Frank Gehry? What do you associate with those? It’s much slower moving than what anybody else is talking about. It tells a story, but it’s a background for other faster-paced, constantly changing stories.”