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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  March 2011

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING March 2011

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Subject:

Re: ACE 'funding'

From:

Pauline van Mourik Broekman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Pauline van Mourik Broekman <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 12:16:01 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (192 lines)

Hi everyone,

While we probably don't self-identity with 'new media' quite in the 
manner that we did when we first started publishing sixteen years ago 
(since around 2000, we've veered away from affiliations to genres, or 
the role of a service publication to a particular field, and tried to 
analyse related phenomena more through the kinds of 'embedded' social 
and economic processes they help facilitate - though obviously we 
continue to follow this area as much as we can), I do think one can 
confidently say there is a key pointer in what Taylor has described as a 
movement away from digital/new media as a circumscribed field, with 
particular concerns, discussion strands, and medium-specific practices, 
towards something that's integrated and consolidated across the board, 
and particularly in organisational development areas (ticketing, 
fundraising, audiences, delivery). I even had a phone conversation in 
advance of putting our National Portfolio Organisation application in - 
with head of Visual Arts at ACE, London, Julie Lomax - wherein I was 
bullishly reminded that one shouldn't get so excited about digital as a 
new set of conditions for aesthetic production and reflection, since 
ultimately it just presented a new set of distribution and delivery 
mechanism (she was clearly frustrated at having to remind her colleagues 
of this fact recurringly).

Although it is genuinely hard, if not impossible, to point to coherent 
patterns in the lists of awardees and total-deaths (since, as you say, 
Furtherfield was kept on, as was FutureEverything; but ever-popular 
onedotzero was nixed; and other areas where similar disinvestment has 
occurred - e.g. diversity-led programming - possess similar anomalies), 
what *has* clearly been decided is that, as above, digital can now 
confidently be assumed to exist as a set of processes internal to 
organisations (who should have the expertise to develop a digital 
strategy, be that via Marketing or elsewhere), *and* that this more 
self-reflexive (and, I'd argue, historically sensitive) conception of 
it, can make way for a normalisation and integration of 'digital' tout 
court, across the cultural landscape - be that in and through 
e-commerce, geo-location and 'expanded reality', or audience 
development, or whatever. To me this explains the targeting of what they 
used to call 'SUNs' (Service, Umbrella, Networing organisations, 
including all those specialist agencies focused on audience development 
via web tools like Google analytics etc.), loads of which have been 
de-funded, towards a more concerted support of what Julie Lomax 
simplistically called 'the production of art'. (In our case this was all 
part of a long admonishment and caution directed at Mute as an (in her 
view) digitally-determined organisation, which also has a history of 
aligning itself with 'start-up' processes (another bete noir, as it's 
not sufficiently art related), and 'the creative industries' (a 
contradictory bogey man, since they clearly want culture to 'share its 
expertise' with this area, as it states in Great Art for Everyone).

We're struggling with how to respond, actually. Mute Publishing was 
financially precarious, having had ongoing problems establishing a 
viable publishing model as a free-content publisher on the web (without 
the large, established subscriber base that print publications born 
before the 'digital revolution' often have, e.g. Art Monthly), but still 
needing all the HR that you have as a magazine publisher (though in this 
area we'd also already had to cut savagely, being left with only one 
Editor and an entirely voluntary Editorial Board). Mute's governance, 
too, was a problem for ACE, as we didn't have an Executive Board beyond 
myself and Simon (Worthington), who co-founded Mute in 1994 and deemed 
Advisory and Editorial Boards sufficient to fulfilling our Mission (ACE 
claimed this left us without appropriate articulation of an artistic 
vision; and, of course, it ricocheted back whenever problems with 
Finance arose, vis a vis 'controls' and 'risk'). Having this history of 
'failure', any complaint over the funding decision will be read as being 
in denial about our operational problems; or a gripe about coming out as 
'losers'.

To me, the interesting stories exist beyond the artforms, as Simon Biggs 
has said (though this is not to say I don't lament the disinvestment in 
dance, or great media orgs, or indeed small, independent publishing for 
that matter - of which there are apparently many that I don't know 
directly who have also been hit). This story exists somewhere across the 
Governance, 'Resilience' and 'Risk' terminology they're trumpeting, in 
the way that ACE claims to be rewarding 'adventurous' and 'risk-taking' 
cultural programming in uplifts to places like Artangel, Whitechapel 
Gallery, and a host of spectacle-oriented performing arts orgs, whereas, 
to my mind, this is more about business and development models, and an 
overall national aligment to a message about what 'art' is supposed to 
be like; how it's supposed to be made financially sustainable (witness 
the hausse of debates about philanthropy); what it's supposed to 
celebrate (witness the hausse of nationalist discourse and the 
prioritisation of the Olympics); how it's supposed to cohere people and 
offer 'transformative experiences'. Again, without wanting to gripe or 
present any ill feeling towards those that *have* been awarded, I do 
think there is a kind of reduction of differentiation, criticality and 
independence desired - even if one wants to read that 
less-than-politically, i.e. as a mitigation of risk. Which, after all, 
we all knew and should have anticipated, when we applied to help ACE 
'deliver its agenda', right?

If letters are to be written, the ones that I would most like to see, 
would tackle how our histories as practitioners and organisations 
involved in this digital area overlap with these deeper questions, so 
that we don't all get swallowed up by this smoke-screen around 
'excellence', 'innovation' and 'risk' - all terms that are ultimately 
very slippery, and where so many of those that I personally regard as 
embodying these qualities mysteriously appear as inadequate.

All bests,
Pauline.

On 31/03/2011 10:21, Sarah Cook wrote:
> Hi all
> Yes a letter to journalists as soon as possible is the way to go, can we collectively draft it here? With some international input too please from those of you on this list who have been followers and supporters of new media art in England... It would also be good to have some voices from the new media art orgs that were successful, such as furtherfield and lighthouse perhaps, who could comment on what the loss of their extended networks means for their work? Mike, what does it mean for AND fest that one of the three orgs behind it was cut; rebecca what does it mean for AV fest that partners in the city such as Amino or Isis were not successful?
> Does anyone have any names of journalists we could contact? it is hard not to see it as massive de investment in a little understood or appreciated artform.
> Hurried thoughts from London... If any non British based readers on this list have thoughts or need an explanation, do speak up!
> Sarah
>
> On 31 Mar 2011, at 11:08, Gary Thomas<[log in to unmask]>  wrote:
>
>> Ditto what Taylor, Mat and Mike said..
>>
>> And I think Ele's suggestion of a letter to The Guardian would do no harm.
>>
>> (It was only after the guardian's cutsblog mentioned that our gfta had been rejected that ace called us to encourage us to resubmit)
>>
>> This isn't just about cuts - it's about a lack of balance in their friggin portfolio!
>>
>> gt
>>
>>
>>
>>> Begin forwarded message:
>>>
>>>> From: Ele Carpenter<[log in to unmask]>
>>>> Date: 30 March 2011 21:50:33 GMT+01:00
>>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>>> Subject: Re: [NEW-MEDIA-CURATING] ACE funding
>>>> Reply-To: Ele Carpenter<[log in to unmask]>
>>>>
>>>> Here is the list of organisations to be cut on Guardian blog:
>>>> http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/mar/30/arts-council-cuts-list-funding
>>>>
>>>> It's such a long list it's hard to comprehend - and as Clive says the
>>>> media arts seem very hard hit within the percentage of visual arts
>>>> cuts. I'm sure there's someone on this list who can download the
>>>> Guardian data and do the maths?
>>>>
>>>> Whilst everyone is reeling in shock, could we draft a letter to the
>>>> Guardian? At don't think it's gonna make a difference - but visibility
>>>> seems important. Maybe there'll be a Media Arts Block with the
>>>> http://artsagainstcuts.wordpress.com protests now.... ?
>>>>
>>>> Any ideas?
>>>> Ele
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> On 30 March 2011 20:45, Clive Gillman<[log in to unmask]>  wrote:
>>>>> Don't want to start a new line, but it feels like some comment is needed on
>>>>> the complete wipeout of ACE-funded organisations working with new media
>>>>> announced today - folly, PVA, Mute, Access Space, Lovebytes, Proboscis,
>>>>> Vivid. Been out of the loop in England, but is that it for Arts Council
>>>>> England support for new media ?
>>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> -- 
>>>> Ele Carpenter
>>>> Curator
>>>> Lecturer, MFA Curating, Dept of Art, Goldsmiths College, Uni of London.
>>>> m: +44 (0)7989 502 191
>>>> www.elecarpenter.org.uk
>>>> www.eleweekend.blogspot.com


-- 
Pauline van Mourik Broekman
Director
Mute Publishing
46 Lexington Street
London
W1F 0LP

W: http://www.metamute.org
W: http://www.openmute.org
E: [log in to unmask]

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

Don't miss our...

Critical history of global networked culture:
PROUD TO BE FLESH: http://www.metamute.org/ptbf

Reader on political art in creative cities:
NO ROOM TO MOVE: http://www.metamute.org/nrtm

Whole nine yards:
MUTE ARCHIVE, 1994-2008: http://www.metamute.org/archive

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