Recently by Nettrice Gaskins, Board Member, NAMAC

Me, we. (Supposedly the shortest quote in the English language delivered at a Harvard graduation.)" --  Muhammad Ali
For some reason this quote by my hometown (KY) hero came to mind as I was skimming the page regarding a national cultural policy for Australia.

The cultural policy will be integrated into programs in universities, schools, local government, new media and longstanding media and cultural institutions in both settler and indigenous communities - creating a cultural infrastructure for the Australian economy and society, and building on the core activities in the arts and creative industries.
Some of the major points of the proposal include,

  • enabling innovation
  • supporting and encouraging connections
  • supportingt art & culture in education
  • investing in new art forms and in the integration of investment in core cultural institutions
  • supporting knowledge transfer and exchanges between academia and cultural institutions
  • recognizing arts & culture in innovation policies through new products and services
  • recognizing collecting institutions as a major resource in the Web 2.0 environment
Well... I like it!  In my opinion this proposal is sufficiently broad enough and inclusive.  I could see artists/creatives as nodes in an expanding knowledge network of arts & culture (social, online, etc.).
What I especially like is the part about broadening "cultural policy from its foundation in arts policy."  I wonder if we Americans could also build a discussion framework on culture - heritage, innovation, creation and expression while maintaining support for the arts.  Inherent in this approach is the departure from the top-down approach of arts & culture programming.

...the "democratization of culture" is a top-down approach that promulgates certain forms of cultural programming that are deemed to be a public good. Clearly, such an objective is open to criticism for what is termed cultural elitism; that is, the assumption that some aesthetic expressions are inherently superior - at least as determined by a cognoscenti concerned with the acquisition of cultural capital.  -- wikipedia
I support a more participatory (or populist) approach in the definition and provision of cultural opportunities.  I believe these approaches are mutually exclusive, perhaps even critical to creating arts & cultural in the U.S. that promotes a political democracy.  Why can't we have diversified revenue streams with high levels of earned income AND a public culture that nurtures arts & cultural activities that contribute to individual self-worth and community?
July 19, 2010 5:36 PM | | Comments (2) |
We know about the WPA: In the 1930s hundreds of thousands of works of art were commissioned and millions were employed to carry out and operate large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects.  Subsequent generations, including mine, greatly benefited from this until the late 1970s and early 80s.

We also know about today's reality: Funding for the arts is the first to be cut.  The arts are seen as too abstract unless they are bundled with other enterprises such as science and business.  Marketing firms in the private sector understand the value of art as promotional content.  Politicians and government officials are less sensitive to the role art plays in everyday life.  A lot of energy was expended to include art opportunities in the economic stimulus package.  Arlene Goldbard compiled the activities in her essay, The New New Deal, Part 2 - A WPA for Artists: How and Why.  Goldbard included NAMAC's call for a Digital Arts Service Corps.

So what's next?

We need to craft and disseminate more compelling rhetoric to encourage the government and the private sector to fund a nationwide public arts movement.  We also need to use existing and emerging technologies to spread new and alternative messages to counter the social-political verbal gymnastics in the mainstream media.  Words like "public" and "participation" have been given a negative connotation in the media (as part of big bad activism).  Such messaging is deceitful and it does not allow the American public to get a clear perception of what needs to be done to effectively address their issues.

I envision a promotional package for the arts that can be tweeted/retweeted, posted as ads or mobile tags on Facebook, and downloaded as a mobile application for smart devices.  More and more art institutions are using mobile technologies to enhance the museum/gallery experience.  Ovation TV sponsored interactive artwork by artist John Baldessari that enables users to create their own still life on their iPhones or iPads.  This is being used to promote Baldessari's retrospective, Pure Beauty, at LACMA.  Rather than relegate gaming and mobile technologies to entertainment we could be launching a new arts movement using these emerging platforms.

Just sayin'.
July 19, 2010 4:47 AM | | Comments (0) |


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