The Exploration of the 99 Worlds
The Interplanetary Society for the Advancement and Appreciation of the Arts
The ISAAA was founded early in the time of the Second Republic, funded primarily by the government. In its early decades, the Society sponsored artists and performances across the known worlds, funded academies devoted to the arts, and ensured that even the Republic’s lowliest citizens could enrich their lives through art.
With the decline of the Republic and the rise of the nobility, the Society’s budget began to shrink. First to be cut were the programs for the poor. Cuts to the Society’s other endeavors followed. Into this gap stepped the nobility and the ISAAA’s mission shifted.
With the newly ascendant nobles funding the Society’s operation, it slowly morphed into mutual admiration society and social club. Rich nobles competed to sponsor their favorite artists and the most prestigious academies. Sponsored exhibits and performances publicly fawned over their patrons and the Society’s former mission to serve the poor was abandoned entirely.
The complete collapse of the Second Republic, the new Dark Ages, and the Emperor Wars further diminished, but did not destroy, the ISAAA. It survives today as a loose association, structured something like a guild, but not affiliated with the Merchant League. Funding comes in varying degrees from the noble houses and the guilds. Most landed nobles and ranking guildsmen are at least members of the Society. True art lovers or those seeking influence among them are likely to sponsor individual artists or performances.
This has left the ISAAA in a compromised state. It can no longer fund art for art’s sake or support culturally important but unpopular art. It can’t afford to alienate the rich benefactors that are its sole means of support and it must also watch out for the Church. More than one noble has shifted blame to the ISAAA when Temple Avesti came calling about some sponsored piece of scandalous, sinful art. With the settling of the Emperor Wars, influential members of the ISAAA have begun quietly lobbying Emperor Alexius’ court to begun funding the Society to some degree.
In the current age, an ISAAA-sponsored exhibit or performance is very much a society event. Society events provide a convenient excuse for nobility and guild members to mix and many a deal, public and secret, is arranged in the private boxes of an opera house or the side halls of an art gallery.