As defined in Encarta® World English Dictionary, ‘the elite’ refers to “a small group of people within a larger group who have more power, social standing, wealth, or talent than the rest of the group.” Throughout most of history, these signs of status were enviable; in the twenty-first century, however, the label ‘elite’ is an insult. As Susan Jacoby, author of “The Age of American Unreason” further elucidates, “When the words ‘intellectual’ or ‘elite’ are invoked, they mean ‘liberal,’ and they’re code words for ‘this person is not one of the people.’”
Unfortunately, in recent times this label has also tainted the allure of culture and the arts, forming what one writer calls “barrier elitism” – the ‘barrier’ being a specialist language, the extravagant cost involved, or even “proper ways of behaving that an outsider doesn’t automatically grasp.” Anti-elitism ensues, where opera-goers are no longer music lovers but publicly subsidized “toffs” and “philistines” and visiting a museum stops being an artistic pilgrimage, but the elitists’ “worthless way of passing their time … [a] vulgar pleasure.” Art and Culture are now relegated to the realm of “… the pretentious language, the snobby associations, the high cost…” Ironically, this occurs despite numerous – and sometimes even desperate — attempts to educate, become more populist and minimize costs. Even in The Netherlands, where entrance to all state-funded museums is covered by a 35 euros / year culture card and student tickets are available for 5 euros, culture is deemed ‘elitist.’ Fears abound throughout the Western World that the world’s symphonies, opera companies and other classical forms of art are dying, as governments in Europe from England, France and even the Netherlands and Germany are revisiting national cultural policies, seeking ways to cut back on the large government subsidies that have traditionally supported the Arts. As one attendee at a recent meeting of world-renowned orchestras tweeted, “Anyone else at #Orch2010 catch the irony of including a performance of the Verdi Requiem in the conference?”
In an effort to remain relevant and survive in the financially uncertain ‘Era of the Anti-Elite,’ museums and performing arts organizations are struggling to draw new audiences by experimenting with new technology, outreach enterprises and guerilla marketing while balancing so-called “High Culture” with populist demands. Some argue this seemingly commercialistic approach belies the very nature of “High Culture,” as “it is through the culture of a civilization — the art and literature – that allows it to rise to consciousness of itself and defines its vision of the world.”  That said, even Roger Scruton, a self-confessed elitist for whom ‘culture’ is something which “opens the hearts, minds and senses of those who possess it to an intellectual and artistic patrimony,” and defines culture as “the accumulation of art, literature, and humane reflection that has stood the test of time and established a continuing tradition of reference and allusion,” qualifies his elitism by adding, “Although an elite product, its [culture’s] meaning lies in emotions and aspirations that are common to all.” So how can contemporary society contend with this apparent contradiction? Is Art elitist? And if it is, can it also be, as Philippe de Montebello, the former unabashed elitist director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art claims, the kind of elitism that ‘… is not only compatible with democracy, [but] the very essence of democracy, in that it seeks to bring as many people as possible to a higher level of understanding and appreciation.” These arguments imply one obvious conclusion – Art as the ultimate paradox: the “creation and creator of elites” that is also “…an inclusive rather than an exclusive concept,” at once “democratizing and anti-elitist.” The trick for Cultural Organizations, then, is finding those bridges between the people and Art, between Higher Appreciation and pop culture. Successful organizations across the globe are learning that these bridges come in three forms: educational outreach, cultural entrepreneurialism and a new approach to what exactly defines Art and Culture.
It is my intention to bring to light the many ways various Performing Arts and Cultural institutions across the globe are tackling these issues.
 Encarta® World English Dictionary
 Judith Warner, “Egghead Alert,” The New York Times, July 11 2010.
 John Armstrong, “Elite, Elitist,” theage.com.au, August 16 2004.
 The Guardian, 10 November 1997 as quoted in Sarah Zalfen, “The Crisis of Culture,” International Journal of Cultural Policy 13, no. 3 (2007).
 35 euros is worth about $43 in the summer of 2010. In addition, “All secondary school pupils will receive a cultural card with an annual budget of 15 euros, for free entry to museums, theatre, concerts or film.” Mrs. Ineke van Hamersvel and Mr. Vladimir Bína, “Compendium: Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe: The Netherlands,” ed. Culture and Science. Ministry of Education (Amsterdam & The Hague: European Union, ERICarts, 2008).
 Since 1999, the proportion of traditional culture “on the menu” of secondary school and university students in The Netherlands has ‘declined dramatically.” Ibid.
 Michael Kimmelman, “In Europe, the Arts Ask for Alms,” New York Times, January 21 2010.
 As quoted by Daniel Okrent, “And the Band Played On,” Time Magazine, July 5 2010.
 Andy Hamilton, “Scruton’s Philosophy of Culture: Elitism, Populism, and Classic Art ” The British Journal of Aesthetics 49, no. no. 4 (2009).
 As quoted in Ibid.
 Calvin Tomkins, “The Importance of Being Elitist,” The New Yorker, November 24 1997.
 R. Scruton, Culture Counts: Faith and Feeling in a World Besieged (New York: Encounter Books, 2007), as quoted in Hamilton, “Scruton’s Philosophy of Culture: Elitism, Populism, and Classic Art “.
 Tomkins, “After Twenty Years at the Helm, Philippe De Montebello Wants the Met to Keep Pulling in Crowds—but Not If It Has to Become a Theme Park..”
 David Hesmondhalgh & Andy C. Pratt, “Cultural Industries and Cultural Policy ” International Journal of Cultural Policy 11, no. 1 (2005).