[iDC] The Future of the Humanities

Simon Biggs simon at littlepig.org.uk
Tue Jul 12 16:39:41 UTC 2011

Agreed. The creative arts need to be valued in relation to their own
"bigger" picture and not be subservient of other domains.

However, a couple of things.

All areas of human activity are contingent upon one another. The arts are
not privileged in this sense and nor should they be. Seeking to address
creative practice without reference to other human activity is a false
duality that wastes the transformative power of the arts.

Secondly, creativity is not unique to the arts. All areas of human activity
can be creative and there are many good arguments for why creativity should
be our focus, rather than the arts per se. There is a lot of indifferent
(uncreative) activity going on in the arts and the cultural sector that
really is not worth defending. Let's not waste our breath defending things
on principle. Better to attack with evidence and specifics.

Thirdly, experimental creativity has always existed at the edges of the
economy and rarely been able to support itself. Generally such activity,
whether in the arts or elsewhere, has depended on enlightened and benevolent
support, whether from individuals, institutions or the state. We are now
exiting a period when the state was generous in this regard. In this context
academia still offers a degree of shelter for those wishing to pursue
experimental creative agendas and do not want to be constrained by market
forces. Whether this support is sustainable is a moot point, as education is
also under attack. At such times generosity can be restrained. However, I
see no other economically viable option at the moment for non-commercial
creative practice, at least in the UK (where this situation has been
prevalent since the late 1990's, with the advent of new Labour and the
instrumentalisation of arts funding that occurred at that time).



On 12/07/2011 16:54, "Geert Lovink" <geert at xs4all.nl> wrote:

> Hi all,
> I would say that the future of culture and arts in not lying in
> academia (understood as a place for research and not for vocational
> training). This would artifically overvalue the importance of academic
> work. Cuture and the arts have to be alive in society and can be
> supported with research from  the university level but should never
> depend on them in any way. Let alone that they should depend on the
> 'science system' (STEM). It always struck as a particular weak
> proposition to argue for 'arts and science' collaborations in order to
> save artists etc. This makes the arts subsidient and puts it in a weak
> position. Just look at for the submissive STEAM ideas, which in the
> end downgrade writers, artists, musicians, designers etc. to servants,
> obedient to Science (because they have to support these programs, they
> are not invited to come up with a radical critique, let alone work on
> their own projects). Instead of creating a temporary solution for a
> handful of subservient artists that have to pretend they are
> scientists (write papers etc.) imho it would be much work together on
> alternatives for the entire sector. You can think of alternative
> revenue models outside of the intellectual property right regimes. It
> would be foolish to somehow suggest that in some countries artists can
> still become lifelong civil servants of the state. It is nice to
> accuse Europeans of such 'socialism' but such solutions (and
> illusions) have not existed anymore for decades and maybe everyone has
> already heard enough by now about the radical cuts in the arts and
> culture budgets in the Netherlands. The neo-liberal regime is now in
> place across the board. It is time to develop common visions that
> benefit all!
> Greetings, Geert
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Simon Biggs | simon at littlepig.org.uk | www.littlepig.org.uk

s.biggs at eca.ac.uk | Edinburgh College of Art
www.eca.ac.uk/circle | www.elmcip.net | www.movingtargets.net

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