on being provoked, or… on not neglecting the business (whilst also, not making it the bottom line)
I’ve been busy, and/or sick since the first forum hosted by Thinking through the City: Incubating Creativity…
but the rich mix of conversation sparked by presentations, continuing over wine and food as the evening progressed: the – often conflicting – ideas, attitudes, desires, and opinions about what conditions ‘creativity’ requires (what it even constitutes – in relation to both ‘art’ and business) and consequently the – again at times conflicting – plans hatched for the ‘incubation of creativity’ within a local matrix, has continued to play on my mind.
Up the top, in terms of my own response, is the absolute provocation I feel reading Gavin Artz’s post following the forum. He titled the post “on being provocative” but went on to suggest his key focal points were not provocative at all, merely common sense… ie: that business and ‘creative practioners’ really want the same thing, and that this same thing amounts to new value in the form of wealth creation. Aaaaaah (my heart sinks a little right here) once again, as seems typical of late (across all sectors and, increasingly – sadly, for me… progressively, in Gavin’s terms – in every little crevice of daily life) the bottom line for success is how much money will be made.
I admit, it is extremely hard to make an acceptable living out of art practice over any length of time (in itself, it requires both creativity and business-sense) and I do believe new models are necessary to sustain and encourage a rich creative social fabric (some of Gavin’s ideas and some of the ideas expressed at the forum: business mentorships, and virtual teams of art/business collaborators have real merit and offer marked possibility for both individual artists, business interests and the general cultural good)… but I have a real problem with pitching wealth creation as a goal in and of itself. I also have a problem with the notion (he brackets the fact that in expressing himself this way he is indeed being provocative)… that council provision of gallery and/or studio spaces would constitute the ‘artificial creation’ of ‘sheltered workshops’, a ‘moribund’ idea he suggests, whose ‘time has passed’.
As time passes (and specifically given current conditions of global economic instability) an overly strong focus on the imperative value of economic wealth implicitly under-values the subtle, often intangible personal and social experiences that make a life feel ‘worth’while, regardless of their commercial benefit. It strikes me that ‘shelter’ from the need to ‘succeed’ commercially, whether artificially created, or naturally occurring (through the individual or collective desire for ‘other’ values… for places where risk and the possibility of failure are given space) is of high value.