David Garcia is a founding member of Amsterdam's Time Based Arts and
creator of a number of international conferences which explore ways
in which live events and public debate can be enhanced by being
combined with electronic communications media such as television,
radio and computer networks. Initiator of The Next 5 Minutes
(94-2003) a series of international conferences and exhibitions on
electronic communications and political culture. Initiator,
organiser, co-edited of many other projects.
Related info at De Balie website: http://www.debalie.nl/persoon.jsp?
Lex ter Braak is the director of the The Netherlands Foundation for
Visual Arts, Design and Architecture (known in the Netherlands as
Fonds BKVB) is the national body responsible for making grants to
individual visual artists, designers and architects. Its objective is
to nurture excellence in visual arts, design and architecture in the
Recently he was the co-editor of the book "Second Opinion" about
Subsidies for Visual Arts in The Netherlands, which created a vibrant
discussion about public support for artists. This discussion in
newspapers and other media, also prompted the topic on this website.
Second Opinion. Over beeldende kunstsubsidies in Nederland. Gitta
Luiten, Lex ter Braak, Taco de Neef, Steven van Teeseling (red.) http://www.naipublishers.nl/kunst/second_opinion_nl.html
STATEMENT OF DAVID GARCIA:
Public Funding for the Creative Un-commons
For the last year I have been part of a network of researchers
looking at the role of art and design as both a catalyst for
collaboration across sectors and disciplines.
The project is all about coming to terms with the reality not only of
our interconnectedness but also of our interdependence. It explores
examples of groups collaborating with others outside of their usual
tribal affinities. Our metaphor of uncommon ground indicates that we
can only do this by accepting and living with our differences even
our antagonisms, hence uncommon not common ground. The project is not
about consensus building it is about the accepting even dramatizing
I see the corporate, industrial and governmental sector as unable to
do take this role alone without a vibrant cultural sector willing to
tell risky stories that take us outside of our comfort zones. Such
work can never be financed from the market place alone.
The last sentence should make it clear that in this talk I am not
taking a neutral stance. I see an urgent need for an increase in
public subsidy for the arts. I will give case study examples of where
the public and private sectors along with individual artists and
developers have worked together successfully. But I also want to make
it clear that these collaborations will entail a fight to maintain a
well resourced publicly financed cultural sector. This should be
based on revising many of the current notions of accountability and
re-introduce the notion of responsibility. More about this
distinction in the talk.
Every experience I have during the development in the (Un) common
Ground research project points to the value of maintaining (in fact
increasing) public funding for both research and the arts. However, a
shift in mentality is required in which the public sector should be
seen as more than another income stream, or an alternative venture
capitalist looking for a return on investment, or even a means of
consolidating national norms and values. The public sector should
hold to a wider conception of the public good that embraces the
implications of an interconnected world.
A balanced cultural diet in our pluralistic societies (containing
both minorities and minority tastes) should maintain a full cultural
spectrum ranging from popular culture to uncompromising and difficult
cultural experiments which are able to take risks that accountability
to share holders alone would never permit, Such a balance is part and
parcel of a healthy society.
So my argument will call for a widespread movement to protect public
subsidies for serious cultural discourse, which are currently being
whittled away across all the liberal democracies. But I will also
argue that it is important to achieve this in ways that go beyond
the ?container category? of the nation state. Our issues are simply
too big for the current epidemic of nationalist obsessions; art
should lead the way in re-metropolonisation of our societies.
At a point in which all other areas are globalising is it possible to
think of public funding for the arts in ways that transcend
conceptions of national identity and competitiveness?
In my talk I will use examples case studies and evidence from both
inside and outside of the (Un) common Ground research program, to
support these arguments. I want to make it clear however that I am
just one editor these are my views and conclusions. The question is
are they mine alone?