Robert Adrian on Wed, 11 Mar 1998 23:57:10 +0100 (MET)

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Re: <nettime> funding for the arts etc.

As a, more or less, passive observer of the debate
around various models of "Artists' Use of Tcomm"
(a slightly broader definition than web. or
and the structural/funding experiments I would like
add a few remarks to the discussion.

The argument about "state/public" funding vs.
"private/corporate" funding is very different in the
U.S. than it is in Canada, Australia or most parts of
Europe (I am unfamiliar with the situation in other
parts of the world). In Europe for instance, there are
generally Culture Ministries with the task of
supporting the arts. Most of the money tends to go
into the traditional arts with a few alibi contributions
to "new media". The arguments are therefore more
about how the existing funds are to be distributed
than about public vs private sponsorship. While in the
present neo-liberal climate there is a tendency to
look to the U.S.American model of tax-breaks for
private or corporate sponsors, very few artists in
Europe could be persuaded that a self-supporting
(corporate) stucture would be a viable long-term
solution without some sort of public funding. The
Adaweb (& 'lectronic minds) saga tends to reinforce
this view.

With reference to the crack about this being the 90s
and not the 60s it would be more meaningful to say
that this is the 90s and not the 80s. The art market
gold-rush of the 80s is over and the belief that the
arts can be supported by Reagan/Thatcher style
trickle-down methods is easliy as inappropriate to
the present situation as a call to the 60s barricades.

The problem for many of the critics of Adaweb was
that it often seemed to be trying to create a virtual
80s SoHo on the web - BIG art from BIG names in the
BIG apple - a recentralisation of the dispersed web
environment on lower Manhatten. It was a good effort
but it didn't to do the trick either - the boardroom
moguls were unimpressed and pulled the plug.

The lessons?
1. Importing traditional art heroes into the network
environment is interesting but not viable in the long
run, at least not in terms of corporate support

2. Public funding agencies and culture ministries have
an obligation to distribute funds to arts projects and
artists. Corporations have an obligation to provide
their shareholders with a profit. Just as the internet
itself was entirely developed by public funding -
unimpeded by "bottom-line" inhibitions - the creation
of an environment supportive of creative uses of the
network will have to come about by similar - but not
neccessarily indentical - means.
Any other expectation can only be naive.

ps. There is another little "ideological" problem with
the ugly references to "the state" and "state funding".
In the end the state is us and the "state funding" is
from tax money. I'm a taxpayer ... so are all of the
other contributors to this debate.

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