Thursday, May 14, 2009

SIX WORDS NEVER TO FORGET: prepared for The Field's New Economy Smack Down

So it looks like May is about practical things, rather than aesthetics... but practical things have a huge impact on aesthetics as well so ... that's my excuse. There. Smack it down.

Last night I was honored to share the stage with some brilliant minds and discuss solutions, suggestions and thoughts about how to re-tool our tool sheds and harness the potential of this new economic situation we all find, well, that everyone else has finally joined us in (a.k.a reality.)

Thanks to Jennifer from the Field and Robert from Galapagos Artspace for hosting us all and organizing the evening! (Audio of the entire event should be up on the Field site.)

Here is the statement I gave as my 2 minute soap box.

The Field: What is the largest problem we seem to face as a field?
my answer: Over-extended artists have been encouraged to make high quantities of poor quality art for the “professional” market and continue to operate blind in a large loosely clustered population isolated from each other, resources, and their geographic neighbors.

The Field: What is your solution?

My solution is Six Words Never to Forget:

Slow Down
  • Make less art for the “professional” market, make better quality more rigorous art.
  • Invest more time engaging in the community, seeing art, discussing art, getting to know your aesthetic and geographic neighbors, being mentored by more established artists, advocating for the arts and for your neighbors, learning about aesthetics, technology and other worldly things, and playing, goofing around in studios and with materials, experimenting with no end goal or necessary outcome.

Strategically Plan
  • Create and follow short and long-term (1 and 5 year) plans to achieve your vision.
  • Actively cultivate the opportunities that directly feed your vision.
  • Only make work that is true to your unique vision that only YOU can make.
  • Update your plans each quarter based on a realistic assessment of your progress and changes in the field, but do not let peer or “gatekeeper” pressure ever throw you off course.

Collectively Organize
  • Organize yourselves, your companies, your materials, your financials, your to do lists, your humans, and your ideas. Knowing what you have and being able to easily access it is vital to efficient and productive action.
  • Work collectively along aesthetic and geographic lines to change the way governments, foundations, presenters and other resource managers allocate their goods.
  • Actively help solve issues that plague all of us as citizens, including lack of healthcare, crappy public transportation, over-priced housing, and an under-funded educational system.
  • Reclaim the ability to discuss aesthetics from the ivory tower of academic authority, the ignorance of the art-critic, the cowardice of political correctness, and the fear of elitism. Our work must be both the making of art and the debate of aesthetics, only then will the audiences follow us comfortably wherever we want to go.
  • Social media are powerful tools for developing rich compassionate interpersonal networks, not just for collecting “friends” to whom we broadcast advertisements for our shows.

PS. This all goes for the artists, the presenters, the grant-makers, and all the other cultural stakeholders!

For more - info on some of the Field's prior discussions about Economic Issues - check out their blog:
Info from the rest of the night and the other speakers will be up there as well soon, as well as a podcast of both panels!

You can also read here for some of the ideas that triggered some of these conversations:
Claudia LaRocco's Performance Club Blog