This study explores the possible contribution of art, specifically of classical music as high art, to the constitutional ideal of creating a society based on freedom and dignity. Although the government publically exhibits a keen interest in the arts there seems to be no constitutional right to art or duty to financially support it in any way. This results in a lack of urgency from government’s side to make good on undertakings to fund and financially assist the arts and consequently forces most western art forms into financial adversity.
Art and entertainment differ inherently from each other and require different financial contributions from government. Hannah Arendt proposes a two-fold test to ascertain what constitutes high art and what amounts to ‘vulgamusik’ as suggested by Theodore Adorno. Where low art wallows in the ‘mundaneness’ of everyday life, high art offers a promise of longevity and of transformation with every encounter.
Traditionally government support for high art is justified as contributing to an overall ‘upliftment’ of the general community, but as South Africa is already in the compromised position of not providing in the basic needs of its citizens funding for the arts needs to be re-visited. When exploring the nature of the fundamental rights to freedom and dignity it becomes apparent that the system of rights constitutes, similar to high art, a complex system and that exposure to complex systems will develop the imagination and a level of creativity when attempting to understand something of their intricate nature. In order to improve our perspective on what constitutes a better future an enhanced imagination is needed. The notion of complex systems and developing the imagination comes from an article by Mark Antaki and Paul Celliers and links with Arendt’s notion of understanding also the other with an ‘enlarged mentality’. It is through Drucilla Cornell’s concept of the imaginary domain as a space wherein one is constantly conceptualizing the ‘becoming’ of a better self, a better world and better future that the right to freedom and dignity can be realized. The encounter with high art makes it possible to integrate and ‘dream up’ that which seemed impossible into becoming a reality.