[-empyre-] Art, Funding and Politics

NeMe nemeorg at gmail.com
Fri Nov 4 18:39:31 EST 2011

Hi Rachel,

> "It is indeed difficult to entertain the protectionist and short-sighted art
> industry notion that the politics of art funding (which I actually
> interpret in a lot of this debate as 'the politics of art itself') was
> 'never really a major concern until recently'."

Your response interpreted our opening sentence out of context.

As founders and directors of NeMe (registered in 2004), with its first
funded project realised in 2006, provides Yiannis and I with a very
recent history of experience with the whole process of funding and its
associated bureaucratic and political complexities. I am sure that
those who follow the activities of NeMe would have realised that our
statement was a reference to our own experience and not a shallow
statement to either “the politics of funding” nor, as you correctly
state, “the politics of the art industry itself”

In any case, these two concerns are not mutually exclusive as
indicated by the history of patronage and certainly emphasised by the
recent funding cuts. Funding has never been merely a ‘facilitator’ and
as such, the politics of funding are firmly embedded into the politics
of the arts industry.

This discussion, or debate, if you prefer, has been initiated to
explore current responses and critical thinking around the possibility
of a new definition of ‘cultural value’ or a ‘re-definition of the
arts praxis’. The recent funding cuts have generated concern regarding
the relationship of visual culture and its relationship (or
subservience) to economic-political objectives, as you quote, “...in a
political milieu increasingly dominated by ideologies of culture-as
service, knowledge production, as education itself is massively
privatized and so on.”

also Julian Oliver comments:

> “It doesn't matter how intrinsically important these disciplines and their
> representative institutions may be within the broader human project: it appears
> some European countries are following the New World and rationalizing away from
> support of the arts, perhaps ultimately preferring privatisation of the so-called Arts Sector altogether.”

We live in a corporate controlled environment and this does place many
cultural practitioners and institutions in a very difficult ethical
position of articulating a more nuanced sense of their contribution to
possible new models of perception in relation to our increasingly
complex global environment or as Lyotard (1982) pointed out in his
Affirmative Aesthetics, "the reflection of an increasingly fictional
reality." Funding cuts have made this concern even more urgent.

Staging cup cake raffles or equivalent net requests to raise money for
the arts as an indicator of our liberation from state or corporate
funding is not the issue although this might provide some individuals
with enough financial support to realise their own project. But there
is a bigger issue: the arts sector is experiencing the real threat of
diffusion and displacement and here I am not referring to the
aesthetics of the sublime.

I welcome your comments,


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