Culture Crash

The Killing of the Creative Class

Scott Timberg

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When artists and artisans can’t make a living, the health of America’s culture is at risk

Change is no stranger to us in the twenty-first century. We must constantly adjust to an evolving world, to transformation and innovation. But for many thousands of creative artists, a torrent of recent changes has made it all but impossible to earn a living. A persistent economic recession, social shifts, and technological change have combined to put our artists—from graphic designers to indie-rock musicians, from architects to booksellers—out of work. This important book looks deeply and broadly into the roots of the crisis of the creative class in America and tells us why it matters.
In this book Scott Timberg considers the human cost as well as the unintended consequences of shuttered record stores, decimated newspapers, music piracy, and a general attitude of indifference. He identifies social tensions and contradictions—most concerning the artist’s place in society—that have plunged the creative class into a fight for survival. Timberg shows how America’s now-collapsing middlebrow culture—a culture once derided by intellectuals like Dwight Macdonald—appears, from today’s vantage point, to have been at least a Silver Age. The book is essential reading for anyone who works in the world of culture, knows someone who does, or cares about the work creative artists produce.

Scott Timberg wrote on music and culture. He was a contributor to Salon and the New York Times, and ran ArtsJournal’s Culture Crash blog.

“Timberg—himself a culture journalist who was a victim of one of the Los Angeles Times’s seemingly endless series of layoffs—makes a good case that, as Bob Dylan once put it, ‘something there’s been lost.’”—Ben Yagoda, New York Times Book Review

"A quietly radical rethinking of the very nature of art in modern life."—Richard Brody,

“Scott Timberg’s Culture Crash is a valuable book because it describes the plight of American arts and culture as an ecological catastrophe, a disaster rooted in the conquest of a trickle-down mentality, intellectual as well as economic . . . This book should be read by anyone in the world of culture who wants to peer beyond the profitable illusions of middle class contentment touted by our various snake oil salesmen, from Richard Florida to universities, the mainstream media, and arts organizations. . . . A passionate look down at the future.”—Bill Marx, ArtsFuse

“Mr. Timberg succeeds in assembling a large, coherent and troubling mosaic. He writes lucidly but with passion and a kind of bitter wit. And he is impressively well-read . . . . He shows himself to be a gifted synthesizer, weaving all manner of information and opinion into a fluent narrative of cultural decline.”—Ben Downing, Wall Street Journal

‘His part-history, part-analysis provides absorbing detail of the demise of the mid list — the authors, painters, designers, architects and actors who did not become famous but whose contribution to greater good should be celebrated rather than relegated to average annual earnings of under £20,000.’—John Kampfner, The Observer.

‘Scott Timberg… explores the questions in engagingly written and thoroughly researched detail.’—Mike Holderness, New Scientist.

‘Timberg’s tale is not a data-rich academic analysis but a revealing narrative based on interviews and observations from the cultural world. . . . An important work and, as you might expect from an arts journalist, a well-written one.’—Ravi Mattu, Financial Times.

“We’ve all had the feeling of these enormous changes—long in the making, not ‘at the last minute’—but Scott Timberg has the synthesis that makes them make sense. Culture Crash throws a clear, defining light on the squeeze that digitally-based economies have put on our artists. A hugely important book.”—Sven Birkerts, author of The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age  

"If you believe that the life of your mind is inseparable from the health of your life, that serious art and artists are an essential component to human nourishment, then you have an obligation, to yourself and your children and us all, to read Timberg's book."—William Giraldi, The New Republic
“Scott Timberg has written an original and important study. He explores some of the most pressing cultural issues affecting the arts and intellectual life with remarkable clarity. This is the first analysis of our current culture from the bottom up—the precarious situation of the individual artists, writers, and musicians who are now struggling to survive.”—Dana Gioia, poet and former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts

A 2015 L.A. Weekly Best Book by L.A. Authors

“[Culture Crash] is worth paying attention to for the disconcerting picture it creates of the decline in industries across the arts. . . . readable and commonsensical.”—Bonnie Marranca, Performing Arts Journal

"[An] ominous warning."—John Anagnost, Carolina Planning Journal

Winner of the 2015, 8th Annual National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards in the Non-fiction book category, sponsored by the Los Angeles Press Club.
ISBN: 9780300195880
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
320 pages, 5-1/2 x 8-1/4