It’s always nice to see a publication with a broad enough editorial mandate that it’s own writers can come down on opposite sides of an issue without even knowing it. Here’s Artnet editor Ben Davis on public funding for art:
The notion that the commercial art world stands on its own is just another myth bequeathed to us by the art bubble. For the vast majority of artists, small nonprofits, government grants, teaching positions and encouraging curators at regional and local museums form part of the indispensible support network that allows them to sustain a creative practice. Without these, some will drop out, or will not find space to do things that aren’t already market-tested, and the pool of talent that the commercial section feeds on will contract. Robust public support is part of what makes a vibrant arts scene.
But here’s the rub: To advocate effectively for public support for the arts, the public must actually believe that art is a public good. And this is where the sense of irrelevance that comes from passively basking in art’s semi-privileged status as a luxury good comes back to bite. To see what I mean, look across the Pond to England, where the shimmering Frieze Fair Week dawns as the country’s cultural sector faces what the Brits like to call “swingeing” cuts, provoking considerable protest from arts advocates.
Meanwhile, in London, Artnet correspondent Laura Jones was reacting to the Anti-Design Festival that was build around the premise that London is bereft of creativity and suffers from a narrowing of opportunities for expression. She found it “laughable” and asserted, “You can’t move for freedom of expression these days. I say we should even look into toning it all down a bit”:
The program said, “Our society has been under a spell for a long time. The past 25 years have seen the procedural reduction of our creative spectrum. . . . the Government decided that art and culture were no longer about the public interest, but instead existed to make money, and that they should pay for themselves.” That’s bollocks. If anything we’ve seen a procedural increase in our creative spectrum. There are rafts of public money sloshing around to help individuals and groups set up art projects. Imagine living in Iraq or somewhere, I can’t imagine there are spare funds for much there. Also, what is so wrong about a.) art paying for itself, and b.) wanting art to make a profit? It’s healthy.
Art in the Time of Austerity (Artnet.com)
London Dispatch (Artnet.com)