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
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.
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!
> 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!
>>> 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:
>>>> 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?
>>>> 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
>>>> Lecturer, MFA Curating, Dept of Art, Goldsmiths College, Uni of London.
>>>> m: +44 (0)7989 502 191
Pauline van Mourik Broekman
46 Lexington Street
E: [log in to unmask]
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