[-empyre-] Art Funding and Politics

Bill Balaskas bill.balaskas at gmail.com
Thu Nov 3 10:12:51 EST 2011

Introductory Statement

The unprecedented economic crisis that the world has been experiencing in
the last few years has significantly affected the global art scene: the art
market in many parts of the world has shrunken, art organizations implement
severe cuts, or else they close down, and artists (particularly the younger
generation) face increasing difficulty in their effort to fund the
production of new work. At the same time, artists are, also, called to
perform their social role, whilst working within and against society’s
puzzlement when faced with the problem of demystifying the nature of the

I believe that it is now time to reflect on this new reality and attempt to
investigate what it means to be an artist in these turbulent times. We are
given a unique opportunity to reflect not only on the failures of our
economic systems, but, perhaps most important, on the failures of a whole
lifestyle. This lifestyle is closely associated with a specific political
perspective on what “culture” is, how it functions and what kind of results
(both economic and ideological) it can/should produce. In that sense, the
current moment provides the conditions to critically re-examine the values
imbuing contemporary culture as a whole and re-imagine a new cultural
landscape in which funding for the arts will not only be sought, but, also,
sought on a different basis of legitimacy. What that basis might be remains
unclear; yet, the need for the formulation of potential answers is very

As a young artist (with a rather unconventional background, with studies in
Economics before being trained as an artist), I believe that there are two
major sets of questions that one might need to ask: “What kind of economy
and, thus, what kind of art?” and “what kind of art and, thus, what kind of
economy?” The order in which those questions are posed might make all the
difference to the answers that will be provided. Art funding of the future
will, ultimately, depend on redefining the priorities of our globalized

Bill Balaskas


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