Art has never flourished without some form of patronage, but is this an alternative to the 'market', or a stage towards it for the work of art?
Artistic patronage is, arguably, a perennial necessity because of the fragility of a new work of art. If that work demonstrates staying power - and of course many do not - the investment of the patron will be repaid generously in the market-place. Many commissioned masterpieces have shown this process. The financial support of artistic activity should thus be seen as a partner to market survival, as the first stage in a complex economic chain, rather than as a process of 'feather-bedding' that insulates art from market forces of choice.
Piers Hellawell is a composer, writer and photographer. He is Professor of Composition at Queen's University in Belfast and was the Gresham Professor of Music between 2000 and 2003. His work has been performed at the Henry Wood Promenade concerts and by the Vanbrugh quartet, Stockholm Chamber Brass and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. He was awarded a Leverhulme fellowship in 2010.
All of Piers Hellawell's previous lectures may be accessed here.