Happy New Year! I started Creative Infrastructure one year ago yesterday to enter an ongoing conversation about the infrastructure for art, the arts, artistic creativity, and arts education. Public policy is one element of that infrastructure, and an area of increasing interest for me. Ian David Moss, on his Createquity blog, published his annual round-up of the top ten arts policy stories of the year. Like many end of year round-ups, be they of movies, books, or exhibits, this one provides a means to observe trends, confluences, and contradictions. There seems to be a shifting of sands across the arts funding “landscape” or to extend the metaphor further, the arts funding “desert,” for the funding landscape often feels akin to the parched terrain that surrounds Phoenix.
Looking at Ian’s top 10, there are stories about cuts to federal and state funding and the Arts Council England as well as the annihilation of the Kansas Arts Commission, but also stories about crowd-sourced funding, cultural funding in Singapore and Brazil, and the consortium of funders underwriting the ArtPlace initiative. It is by looking at the juxtaposition of these two sets of stories that one senses a shift in the sands, a shift away from government or even individual institutional funders and toward more innovative and entrepreneurial means of funding artistic production such as crowds and consortia.
Diversifying the funding opportunities for artists and arts organizations is a good thing. As with other types of financial portfolios, a funding portfolio that is diversified will likely be more stable, more able to withstand the vicissitudes of the economy, than one that is not. I fear, as do many, that the sands may shift, as they have in Kansas, to the point where there is no public funding in the portfolio, which would not be – is not — a good thing. Public funding brings not only money to the portfolio, but cultural and social capital as well (see my earlier post on that topic). When the government invests in artists, in arts institutions, and in arts education, it is making a statement about the importance of the arts to who we are as Americans or Kansans or Phoenicians and as citizens of the world.
Photo: Shifting Sands by EriQueM, TutokeMedia