before I begin

Life is too short to live behind lies

Friday, 3 September 2010

does a cut in your arts really sting?

this morning we read of the inevitable and quite severe cuts being made in the arts sector for northern ireland.
Firstly, anyone who knows me, knows how much I detest greedy fat cats particularly those who got the country into this mess by living  and borrowing as if there were no consequences.

As always those hurt most are the people who may lose their jobs at the 'front end' ( one way or another top dogs will stay safe).

For  arts institutions and organisations it is also a blow.  As somone who has benefited from arts awards in the past, I know how vaulable they can be to help fund transport and travel in order to have work exhibited abroad.  However at this point I think we must try look for positives in this situation.

If you read my previous posts, you will gather that I have doubts about the wisdom of the amount of funding which is directed to projects in order to satisfy certain 'politcal' agendas. ( community, social and local politcal projects). The result has been to turn some artists and arts groups into little more than creative social workers. Of course some artists have had this function at other times in history but generally, great artists have worked beyond this realm.

We see entire exhibitions driven not by ART but by some sociological study which fits in with current popular local concern or event. I feel that because funding has to be accounted for and politically justified, it cannot always be risked on simply helping someone to make ART. Of course this is understandable. The piper has the right to call the tune but have we been lulled into believing there is only one tune? The term 'artist' may be devalued  by people calling themselves artists but whose prime function is not acutally making art.

So where are the positives? If those of us in the arts world are as creative as we say, then this may be a great opportunity to prove it. When resources become limited we tend to have to go back to raw materials. As I stated earlier, those who will be hurt most by cuts may be those your arts graduates needing a first 'leg up'.
However harsh  it may seem, the truth is that real artists will continue to make art under all conditions because making art is an activity born out of a deep rooted need. For these people funding is appreciated but the lack of it will not stop them making and creating. There is however a 'grey' layer of arts activities which could be removed. That layer contains those who are driven by funding rather than using funding to drive their art. For these individuals and organisations a lack of funding will be an acid test. Here the question. If your work is rarely exhibited, If you are not promoted or if you are not in the public domain will you still make art?  Will you continue to exhibit a certain type of art in your gallery if it is not funded? These are  the tests.

For all of us there is an opportunity to re focus on what is important.... saying those things we need to say, making the music and the paintings we need to ( not have to). Of course we will try to find ways to have it seen and heard. Perhaps it will inject a new energy. Perhaps more groups will form round common  genuinely  creative ideas and philosophies.

I detest cuts made by governments..especially those who are happy fund wars!  However I also appreciate that there are   people in this world who need funding more than I need a new tube of paint!

1 comment:

  1. " the truth is that real artists will continue to make art under all conditions because making art is an activity born out of a deep rooted need. For these people funding is appreciated but the lack of it will not stop them making and creating. "

    This is very, very true. And I think either one has that 'deep rooted need' or they don't. And possibly these cut backs might make the ones who don't have that need, but have been pouring out 'art' because they've been funded, be seen for what they really are.

    In fact, I think it's true of many areas in the recession. I recall reading a thing in the Irish Times when I was in work the other week, interviewing women who had been 'affected' by the recession. They had had to do things like "take less holidays" (not none at all), "cut my monthly clothing budget down from 1000 euro to 300", etc etc - and they considered themselves hard done by. I was furious. They deserve to live on the breadline, or below it, for some time; to actually know what it is like to not know where the next meal is coming from. Then they would have the right to feel hard done by.
    Relating that back to art again, with many disciplines, I think, it is possible to make art more cheaply. Student quality paint rather than artist, second hand fabrics rather than purpose bought - and think how this can sometimes make the work more interesting too. It goes towards proving your point that a true artist will continue to create, even if they have to use lesser materials, not sit about whining that they can't work without the best materials, which have been funded to them.