In 2018, SOTA initiated a process to reflect on the complex relationships between artistic, political, and economic spheres, and this process was called The SOTA Summer Camp. The SOTA Summer Camp was aimed at writing a Fair Art Almanac for 2019, and that meant bringing artists and people of all kinds together for one week, so that everyone in the field could openly discuss, debate, and write out practical ideas for working together alongside of current concerns regarding cultural policies in Belgium.
SOTA proposed the Summer Camp for art practitioners of any background and color, so that everyone concerned with the concrete conditions of art making would have an opportunity to come together and discuss the politics of practice. The Camp last year was a meeting point for people working on all sides of artistic production, and the Camp gathered tremendous strength from people in the Belgian community who desire a strong, advanced, diverse, and challenging culture here. Thus, independently organized outside of normal work patterns, the Summer Camp that SOTA organized was not a conference, a playground, a school, a public court, or a festival, and it brought people together in an attempt to improve the economic and political survival skills of individual artists and the art field as a whole. The result of what transpired among the people present is now documented in this year’s Almanac.
The Fair Art Almanac 2019 exists now in the form of a yearly calendar, and it offers a collection of practical statements, visionary calls, personal testimonies, useful tools, and general announcements that can help claim and develop fair, sustainable practices within the cultural field. The editorial policy of the Almanac 2019 intended to continue SOTA’s ongoing discussion of and for fair practice within our society, and fair in SOTA’s understanding includes five main topics: solidarity, ethics, ecology, diversity, and empowerment.
Based on the collective investigations, experiments, and input gathered in the Camp, the Almanac not only includes basic information about the political and administrative agenda of the art field, but it critically reflects upon it’s practical, political, and performative values. In seeking to voice citizens’ concerns, the Almanac for 2019 publishes practical information with action plans, unsolicited comments, bottom-up strategies, proposals for changes, and much more.
The idea from SOTA was to use the Summer Camp to create a multi-functional Almanac that provides practical information, dates of major and minor events, as well as texts that address the precarious economic, social, and political conditions of art practitioners. In order to do that with an awareness of the diversity present in our community, the Summer Camp gathered people engaged in art on all sides (including those working as artists, technicians, curators, designers, mediators, administrators, and all those along the spectrum of research and production in and out of institutions), and it worked in editing sessions after the Camp to acknowledge and celebrate the many voices within our community. With it’s diverse perspectives, the Almanac triggers discussions, documents personal thoughts on art making, features emerging approaches to addressing the world’s shifting landscape, and it lifts the status of profane organizational work into the realm of the artistic.
The annually renewed Almanac will become an instrument for continuous discussion about working conditions in the arts, and SOTA will make a collection again in the coming years in order to facilitate the creation of a Fair Art Almanac every year.