Over the course of four seasons, SOTA will prepare a second Fair Arts Almanac: a publication that gathers many ideas and perspectives on Fair Practice and Change in today’s arts and society. We don’t want to create it alone. We see it as one long process of sharing, thinking and writing together. Would you like to get involved? See our monthly program below!
WHO & WHY?
State Of The Arts (SOTA) is an open platform reimagining the art world today. We believe the transition of an art world towards a fairer one can also serve as a catalyst for genuine change in society at large.
Since 2014 SOTA has discussed Fair Practice in the Arts along five different axes: solidarity, diversity, transparency, ecology and ‘relationality’ (trust). It is clear that these different aspects of fairness are deeply intertwined. Fairness deserves a constant, situated and societal debate. That is why SOTA developed the Fair Arts Almanac as a common tool at the heart of its activities.
FIRST ALMANAC 2019
In 2019 SOTA finished the first Fair Arts Almanac. The content of the book was generated during a week long summer camp in 2018 with about 70 contributors. The result was a bundling of tips & tricks, statements & demands, visions & ideas, dates & data, testimonies & voices, addresses & announcements on fairness within the complex relationships between the artistic, political and economic sphere. The compilation of various contributions in this first edition was deliberately associative and open for debate, full of contradictions, loose ends and inconsistencies.
Since the publication of this almanac, many things have changed: a new cultural minister, drastic cutbacks, many protests, the corona crisis, recovery of culture, a second wave, etc…It is time to prepare for a second edition of the Fair Arts Almanac. For the next edition the editing process will be taken care of from the situatedness of the various reflection and working groups active in SOTA.
FAIR ARTS ALMANAC #02
The second edition of the Fair Arts Almanac was created during a series of preparatory events. Throughout 2021 and 2022, these events took place on a monthly basis, always at different locations, about different topics and prepared by different groups – and were open to questions that live among practitioners these days, taking the sensibilities of the various seasons into account.
1. January – Rest
Editor: Justine Maxelon
Key words: endings and beginnings, rest, burn-out, laziness, work-rest-balance…
“Our bodies deserve to rest. All bodies deserve to rest. Still, the value of rest is often underestimated. Working and being 24/7 available seems to be the norm responding to the ever-increasing demands of a capitalist framework. And though we all know the importance of rest and being aimless and directionless, it’s often easier said than done. Is rest possible in an overstimulating environment? Rest, as an active engagement, asks for more than passively doing nothing, or simply not working. How do we allow ourselves and each other to take and cherish rest?
In nature, we observe seasonal cycles of rest. How can this translate to human working relations? Do we need to create our own cycles of rest? Can we structure the arts, and society at large, in a way that includes periods of rest? How could rest be incorporated into a vision of “fairer arts practices”?”
2. February – Social Security
Editor: Kobe Matthys
Key words: cleansing and repair, labor, social security law, reform of aka “kunstenaarsstatuut”, mutuality
“What is work? How do we calculate wages? Who is entitled to social security protection? What are the mechanisms of mutuality? Asking these questions connects our discussions with similar, urgent questions in society at large. Artists’ and art workers’ problems are related to those of other precarious workers with temporary, irregular and hybrid activities. It is clear that there is a need for better social security protection for all precarious workers, taking into account the specificities of these other practices and professions.
The corona crisis has painfully demonstrated that a great many artists in Belgium could not fall back on the protection of social security. Many artists are not or insufficiently protected by the existing statutes of social security and fall between the cracks of the social security system. The new federal government has therefore proposed a reform in order to make the social security for artists more sustainable. This reform is included in the overall (government) coalition agreement.
3. March – Art education & Bridging into the field
Editor: Laura Oriol
Key words: struggle and first opening up, art education, school and after school life, transition
Does the existing art education system adequately prepare students for the challenges of living as an artist after graduation? Do students learn to be critical of the art field, how it distributes wealth or the competitive environment it fosters? Are they invited to imagine a work field that is an ecology of support? From dealing with finances, to empowerment through solidarity, to activating political potentials of students, art schools fail to share a lot of necessary knowledge to help their students become working artists.
And what about the art field? How are new artists welcomed into the field? Who can we hold responsible for the extreme precarity of young artists? Is there not a gap between school and entering the field that too many artists fall into? Can we really say this has nothing to privilege?
4. April – Ecology
Editor: Erika Sprey
Keywords: relations with non-humans, circular economies, recycled materials
“What is the impact of the growing awareness of the ecological crisis into the arts? How to represent, invoke, and collaborate with non and more-than-humans that are also part of us? Some are creating institutes for the ocean, while others set up legal entities for the recognition of rivers or summon distressed beings during (caring) rituals. We are gathering these attempts in a real Congress of Others Within as a way to experiment on how to establish a different relationship with the earth planet as a being, called Gaia. How are these attempts re-shaping the field of arts?
5. May – Making Space
Editor: Nicolas Galeazzi
Keywords: working spaces, artist run initiatives, gentrification, sharing infrastructure and ateliers
In the month of May we enter the ecologies of SPACES, from self-organisation to change from within. Spaces that are created by us, or that are there for us to create. We have looked into what it means to be in charge of their sustenance, or for their occupation; we looked into established spaces that need to challenge their meaning, or into empty spaces that only have meaning as long as you make it. We found these spaces full of experience and possibilities that give these spaces wings, and we want to share them with you.
6. June – State of Migration
Editor: Nicolas Galeazzi
Keywords: international, mobility, migration, arriving, travel, new comers
“June is the month we dedicate to migrating. We will have left our homes, and focus at what keeps us alive, what gives us access to and what is stimulating in a world that alienates us all. We give space to rich experience with the state of the migration and try to name the minimal tools to hack into the system.”
7. July – Parenting
Editor: Charlotte Gruber
Keywords: play, divination, learning by playing
“The month of July on artist parenthood, and the archetype of the (artist) mother in particular provides readers with insights from the margins of child-rearing cultural workers and creators, who attempt the impossible invisible doubly precarized labor of juggling (child) care and the cultural industry career. Artistic contributions, thought exercises, calls to action and a rich list of hands-on resources (for individuals and institutions) as well as specific residencies from international initiatives on artist parenthood are a first step towards a more inclusive field and a more just and joyous world that doesn’t stop at ‘child-friendly’. ”
8. August – Accessibility
Editor: Josefien Cornette
Keywords: ableism, feminism, racism, discrimination, power dynamics
Diversity is a buzzword flourishing in about every funding proposal of institutions, platforms, schools, and big corporations connected to the cultural field and artistic networks of our community. It has become a product upon which money can be cashed. Yet, what is their true commitment to the cause, and what is the cost of those who need their policies? August, when the crops are at their ripest, shows the potential of what is possible when -isms collaborate, create, facilitate either within the margins of their field or at the barricade of their cause. How critical should we intend to be towards our own intentions and goals? What is good practice? And at what cost?
9. September – Solidarity/Redistribution
Editor: Wouter Hillaert
Keywords: redistribution of wealth, direct forms of solidarity, sos relief, common income, feed the culture, collectivity
“How to share and redistribute money in times of growing precarity in arts and society? Different reflective contributions redefine the current relation between income, work, community and state support – proposing new principles like ‘earn what you need’. Also several inspiring practices are presented, from Collectief Kapitaal in Amsterdam till the Irish experiment with a Basic Income for Artists. And there’s a simple test: which kind of ‘solidarist’ are you?”
10. October – property, public and private ownership
Editor: Mia Melvær
Keywords: property, public and private ownership, open source technical tools
“For the month of October the almanac will focus on different ideas of properties and ownership. By diving into the CC4R-license (Creative Commons for Re-use), contemplating the use of proprietary software or simply the definition of the word property, the month of October considers how we label and consciously share our harvest and resources with others.”
11. November – Politics
Editor: Katrien Reist
Keywords: repairing the agora, building coalitions, care in policy making, subsidies and financial support, various forms of political representation
“While thinking of change and possible new models to function, we are aware that real change happens in policymaking. How do we organise our relation with policymakers? How can we translate and match our needs with the (current) political climate? Should we organise the sector into ‘one voice’? And if so, how can we make sure everyone is being heard?”
12. December – Relationality
Editor: Olave Nduwanje
Keywords: institutional relations, contracting, fair pay, Juist is Juist
“For the month of December, the Almanac will feature contributions from artists and organisers that acknowledge any and every artist’s entanglement in myriad webs and constellations of relationality. Entanglements that illustrate our vulnerabilities, priviliges, precarities and differentiated access to power/resources. In this month, we seek greater understanding of the duties of care that arise from our entanglements with each other, the communities that we seek to serve and the institutions that we depend on.”
The development of the SOTA Almanac is supported by BUDA, Nadine,
Het Bos, Kaaitheater, Z33, Monty, Vooruit, STUK, KAAP, Beursschouwburg, Kunstenpunt, the Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie and the Flemish Government