Freedom's just another word for nothing left to loose
Nothing, I mean nothing honey if it ain't free, no no
Yeah feeling good was easy Lord when he sang the blues
You know feeling good was good enough for me
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee.
Kris Kristofferson 'Me and Bobby McGhee' Lyrics
A money culture wants the figures, the bottom line, the sales, the response, it wants a return on its investment, it wants more money.
Art can offer no obvious return. Its rate of exchange is energy, for energy, intensity for intensity. The time you spend on art is the time it spends with you; there are no short cuts, no crash courses, no fast tracks. There is only the experience.
Jeanette Winterson - ‘What is art for?’ - Guardian 2002
Where are we now? - the bigger picture
Arts planning and funding in the U.K. has been thrown into turmoil by two or three concurrent factors. One a slowdown (pace - 'recession') globally which may well remove the Labour Party from power in the next two years.
Two a diversion of a significant amount of lottery funding to the Olympics (even if there were no Olympics to pay for the income from lottery is in a downward spiral).
Thirdly a cut-throat bottom-line cash-driven business model in arts education that is pumping out a hundred fine art graduates per institution into the muddy waters of U.K. Creative Industries PLC. Even the most hard-nosed ACE administrator realises that the gravy will be spread thinner and thinner soon on some very poor fare...
Where are all these new 'geniuses' going to go?
So here I am 50 years old and advocating 'Freemium' policies, freecycle marketing and not-for-profit artists organisation and pressure-groups. I must, therefore, be mad?
I honestly believe this is the only sensible way forward...the arts council's golden goose has probably laid its last golden eggs for a while in terms of low-end funding..
For new models perhaps we should look to American free enterprise models that are not based on 'state funding'. We need enterprise, imagination and communal enterprise to survive this recession.
Nottingham was the base for the East Midlands Group in the 1970's that survived and prospered because all of those things..not just because it was state-funded. It high time that artists stopped 'competing' like so many little businesses for government 'largesse' and actually started producing high quality work people actually might want to take an interest in.
This starts with reskilling our fine arts graduates instead of spilling them out with pretentious notions and badly conceived ideas of being the next Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin. Removing the skills base was one of the tragedies of the past two decades of art education.
GLOBAL/LOCAL?? Digital freedom?
The free market is dominant to a degree we have never seen before and it destroying not only local communities but the old 'communla' bonds between creative individuals. Grants and lip-service cannot change the digital wrecking ball creating havoc with creative copyright. Protecting one's work digitally is impossible. All creative output can be copied and distributed freely...those who do not accept this are swimming against a very strong tide.
The only 'saleable' commodity left to the artist is his/her own ideas and experience and the 'authenticity' of thenpersonal appearances..or substitute appearances in shows etc. Crafts practitioners are strong on the 'authentic and personal' properties that sell items but fine artists no longer are because of recent changes in fashion. To have abandoned traditional skills just at the point where they are most needed is madness. I call this kind of art and skills based production 'slow art' to differentiate from the internet's dissemination of 'fast food art'. This 'fast art' is eroding the market for all the arts...
A 'near-perfect' copy of a Francis Bacon can be painted in China in the time I have taken to write this evaluation ....so why bother being Francis Bacon any more the students argue..we have ideas...such wonderful ideas....Indeed all 100 have wonderful ideas..it is putting them into 'practice' literally that requires skills and understanding as well as ideas.
Some digital artists are already 'outsourcing' their creative output to others on a massive scale..just like companies.
It began with YBA's (Hirst and co. had most 'artifacts' 'made-up' for them) now everyone's doing it...especially those students coached early in their career in networking and the 'wow factor'.
Students are no longer taught to make paints or stretch a canvas or cast bronze ..we have entered a period of 'Warholian' education.
True 'authenticity' is in short supply now and Fordism is a more relevant philosphy to artists now than the 'Van Gogh' suffer and paint model..ironically both he and Picasso engaged in bartering - swapping paintings for food and drink when poor....plus ca change....
Everything else in the arts has been up for grabs since the internet was invented.
To paraphrase Kris Kristofferson in 'Me and Bobby McGhee'.....
Freedom's just another word for nothing left to sell.
Nothing ain't worth nothing less it's free
We are all living in the freemium economy.