The dominance of the American market over the English speaking world makes it the benchmark for the measure of success. This is so in many fields of endeavor but more so in the arts which the smaller, non-U.S. markets struggle to fund all but a few of the most successful. Ironically, it is usually only after finding recognition or success in the U.S. or, to a lesser extent, in the U.K., that many of these artists become successful and well known in their own countries.
This has led to a debate in many countries about the amount of influence that the attraction of the U.S. market has on foreign (non-U.S./U.K.) artists. In Africa and in South America artists, especially musicians, often try to take their work to the U.S. before they are even established in their own countries. In India a whole industry of writers producing work tailored to the U.K. market has become the topic of debate after some of these mass produced books have won minor British book prizes (http://indianrealist.wordpress.com/2008/11/03/the-booker-pee-on-pagans-award/).
Throughout history there have been artists that have only found success after leaving their native lands. Henrik Ibsen, the father of modern prose, was driven by failure in his native Norway to go abroad for his greatest inspiration and success. Hans Christian Anderson was often ridiculed in his homeland of Denmark whilst finding that overseas his work was considered as genius, spawning an entire genre of writers that follow him to this day. But instances such as this seem to have been the exception in the past whilst in the modern day the path to success is to abandon cultural diversity in pursuit of o slice of the American pie.
Perhaps nowhere is the attraction of the U.S. or the U.K. markets greater to artists than in Australia where a cultural anomaly throughout the 20th Century taught generations of Australian writers and artists of all sorts that only in foreign lands could artists (or other creative entrepreneurs) find real credibility and success. Until the 1980’s Australian artists often perceived of themselves as not having been successful until they found recognition in foreign markets. Now, because of the ease of communication and the internet, many artists are taking their work straight to the U.S. or the U.K. without even attempting to make a name for themselves at home.
In a large part this is driven by the agents, publishers and other business people that sell art in Australia and their unwillingness to develop new talent, especially in the literary world. To some degree this is brought about by the financial necessity of making profits in a small market but often it seems, at best, little more than laziness- it has been much easier to market established artists and writers that have returned to their homeland with credibility built on overseas success. At worst it is sheer cowardice and a lack of faith in the abilities of their fellow Australians to be able to compete on the world stage. In the end these business people will have no one to blame but themselves when all of the talent in this country is represented abroad and there is no domestic market in writers and artists to promote on home soil.
The question that this raises is what is the impact of this exodus overseas on the cultural expression of Australian artists? Will this state of affairs see the arts degenerate into a homogenous, American friendly product, devoid of diversity or foreign cultural expression? Have we seen the end of Australians writing about Australia for other Australians (and then the rest of the world)? If success in the U.S. is the only real success in the global village what kind of homogenous culture are we developing?