Here a few things I’ve found and thought about over the last month or so, which I think other people should be thinking about too. I’ve just plunged out of a slew of deadlines and into some weeks of research for something new about resilience – watch this space for more. It may get a bit quiet here as a result, unless I create some nuggets to share. You can always stalk/follow me on Twitter, where I often share these links such as these as I find them, with much other trivia and wisdom.
(Having written this, it turned out a bit long – I’ve therefore split into two, more tomorrow...)
If you click through on nothing else, I’d like you to click here to Creative Placemaking has an Outcomes Problem by Ian David Moss of Createquity. It’s a great succinct exploration of the issues that flow when you lack a theory of change or ‘a clear and detailed theory of how and why creative placemaking is effective’, and what it might be, with a useful rooting in social capital rather than economic development emerging. As he points out too much of our evaluative effort goes into ‘proving’ that it is effective, which we can never do so some people’s satisfaction anyway. Knowing how and why – or even having a convincing theory - might be a better starting point for convincing sceptics. Unfortunately the only arts and place project I think got close to having this kind of model in the UK was Creative Partnerships and much of what it learnt is, I fear, being swept aside as we speak.
a-n have published two important papers recently relating to individual artists’ conditions and the dangers of damage to their role in the cultural ecology recently: Reyhan King’s Exhibitions Are Not Enough which argues for more developmental support from galleries, and Artists’ Work in 2011 which sets out a worrying picture of the commissions economy.
They have also just published a useful bibliography Artists working in participatory settings, which is part of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s Artworks Initiative. This sits alongside much other research emerging from this significant initiative, including Helix Arts’ Audit of Practice, where Toby Lowe wrestles with the variety of practice just in the North East and what might make up excellence in participatory work.
Changes to some Creative Scotland funding streams have opened up a debate on what and how funding should be distributed. Joyce McMillan and Don Paterson, described by Graham Lancaster on the IFF blog, argue for choice based more purely on artistic quality. Andrew Dixon replies in characteristic style here. I might be wrong, but I sense a stretching of lottery budgets here, which is increasingly looking, in England, like a threshold has been crossed, where the level of treasury funding – for ‘core’ grants and the staff to administer the organisation - just won’t go as far as it should. The difficulty is you can tie yourself up in rules and lottery regs if you’re not careful, and sometimes trip over them. For what it’s worth, I’d probably locate myself in the gaps in the arguments, avoiding both the raw market and the holy monastery.