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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  March 2011

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING March 2011

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Subject:

Re: ACE 'funding'

From:

Variant <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Variant <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 31 Mar 2011 15:17:18 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (148 lines)

Feel this may be relevant - Variant wrote in February 2010 of related changes proposed in Scotland:

Although reforms of cultural provision may be long overdue, Creative Scotland has wider-reaching implications than the supersession of Scottish Screen and The Scottish Arts Council. Creative Scotland seeks a fundamental change of a key aspect of democratic society. This change has significant implications for the many ways in which knowledge is produced and communicated in Scotland.

As it is proposed, Creative Scotland is set to erode key principles such as the distinction between culture and commerce. The Hollyrood governments that proposed its creation have sought to reconcile economic instrumentalism and pure artistic freedoms (or “arts for arts sake”). However, this distinction, which Creative Scotland is said to transcend, is part of a complex history that has still not been fairly debated and assessed. Such debate and assessment is necessary before any fundamental reform to the ethos of cultural provision can be made.

The discursive isolation of Creative Scotland from broader-based debates about cultural policy has impoverished discussion of its functions -- a policy process noted for its "academic absenteeism". Rather than merely focusing on freedom of artistic self-expression, we need a broader intellectual and political debate over cultural rights. These are not reducible to artistic freedom. The latter, however, is being implied time-and-again by politicians in support of Creative Scotland. The threats to intellectual autonomy already upon us reflect the underlying logic of “single purpose government” rather than democratic values in cultural policy. The lack of parliamentary discussion about how to best pursue UNESCO treaty commitments towards a diversity of cultural expression (which include the diversity of political expression) has shown how far removed Scotland’s civic discourse on culture as democratic right remains.

There is little or no evidence that an avowedly entrepreneurial organisation, more directly geared to economic policy, is needed. In this sense, the development of Creative Scotland’s mission, or ‘core script’, appears to be more about ideological engineering than economic necessity, improved service levels, or the public good. Moreover, the unintended consequences of the shift towards an entrepreneurial ideology in the public provision of culture have not been tested in free and fair public debate. Marketplace “truths” require far greater scrutiny, as has been amply demonstrated by the financial crisis. This is even more pressing given the wide-ranging changes proposed in the creation of Creative Scotland to restrict public discourse along narrow ideological lines.

Variant, affinity group
http://www.variant.org.uk
http://creativescotland.blogspot.com

All best,
Leigh

For comment on a coherent cultural policy drawn-up not for rentier systems of commerce but a cultural policy that fundamentally supports communicative acts; one written by those who in the public interest account for the way power is "exercised upon and through practices of mediated public communication", see Clive Barnett: 'Culture and democracy: media, space and representation'
http://cgj.sagepub.com/content/12/2/252.extract




On 31 Mar 2011, at 13:16, Pauline van Mourik Broekman wrote:

> 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


-------------------------------------------
Variant
...in-depth coverage in the context of
broader social, political & cultural issues.

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e. [log in to unmask]
http://www.variant.org.uk

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