14 May

New Economy “Smackdown” is Smackdone

I was on a panel that was part of The Field’s New Economy Smackdown last night. It was fun and smart and too long, but there’s a lot to say. An encouraging thing I’m seeing in discussions like this is that they are including many stakeholders at once – from artists to presenters to funders to journalists, and this is really important, so that none of us is working in a vacuum.

Read about it here.

I think one could go to a panel like this (“what is the new economy? what is the new model? what is broken? what can we do?”) in the arts about every day this month. I think it’s a good thing. The system for funding and presenting the arts has been busted for a long time so it’s great we’re all getting out and trying to frame it, deal with it, take responsibility for it and so on.

I will say that I kind of lost my shit with a guy in the audience and I wish I hadn’t. Having worked in the arts a long time, I have increasingly lost patience with people who wait until the end of what in this case was a fairly constructive event, and then shoot it down for not being what that person thought the event should be (which in this case was not entirely clear).

At the same time, I let it get under my skin more than I should have, and sort of played into a dynamic that was also counter productive. I think we argued about whether we panelists were spiritually or politically engaged enough with the larger economic crisis, but I can’t be entirely sure based on what was said.

I know also that as a radical artist I totally aspire to be middle class, because I think earning the bourgeois trappings by doing wacky unsettling cultural work is highly political, especially if you’re from a more marginalized demographic.

Thought for the day: how helpful is it for any one person to tell a group of other people what we “should” or “must” do? Yes it’s a rhetorical question. Kind of. I ask because I think I respond more to statements about what IS happening, and what are the consequences. “When we do this, this is the result. What does that mean going forward.”