Podcast: Wisconsin pride vs. nice things

Local connections both help and hinder the conversation about local arts and culture.

Local connections both help and hinder the conversation about local arts and culture.


When David Klein of Madison film website LakeFrontRow covered a panel discussion about local filmmakers at this year’s Wisconsin Film Festival, he came away frustrated. The discussion touched briefly on the panelists’ thoughts about Wisconsin’s filmmaking community, but missed an opportunity to dig deeper. “State connections are the start of the Wisconsin film conversation, not the subject,” Klein wrote.

His story illustrated the conflicting roles that state and local pride play in Wisconsin and Madison’s conversation about arts and culture. On the one hand, it’s important to celebrate what makes the musicians, filmmakers, and artists of one place different from those in any other. On the other hand, this so often becomes a bit of window dressing that glosses over the substance of the art itself and the cultural and economic issues surrounding it. This is something we’ve grappled with a lot on Tone Madison, especially in our piece about negative reviews about local music and our ongoing battle against cheaply flattering listicles. Klein joined me this week to dig in further on the issue. Listen to our conversation below.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes and catch WORT-FM’s weeknight news show In Our Backyard, which partners with us to produce these. Thanks to Dylan Brogan for producing this interview.

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