On 22 February 2015, De Munt / La Monnaie opened its doors to an exceptional event hosted by SOTA: a symposium on the future of our arts field. The current policy and budget changes imposed by the Flemish Ministry for Culture and the Federal Government, should not divide us. On the contrary, we should make it heard that there is no justification for the cuts, and find ways to apply our collective force to spread that message.
On the first of April Mr. Gatz will deliver a vision nota that will reveal his cultural policy for the next 4 years. SOLIDARITY AND ACTION II on February 22nd, calls all those who feel they’re concerned, to unite forces. The timing is perfect to question our shared values – these questions are the glue of our field. Through this call SOTA invites art practitioners, organizations and institutions to gather and look for ways to defend ourselves in solidarity, and to exemplify how a community can function, that takes the challenges of living together in difference serious.
How do we – artists, makers, organizers and institutions – feel about the announced reforms? Do we agree? Are we worried? How do we resist austerity that aims for the selling-out of the public arts sector to private interests? What alternatives can we suggest towards a policy that can take on the societal challenges of today, rather than follow the dogma of “there is no alternative”? What actions of resistance can be taken together as a field?
On February 22nd SOTA offers a “social structure” with parallel roundtable-discussions as well as common sessions, key note lectures, a coffee bar and Auberge Espagnole/Put Luck. It’s a time to inject some quality into your formal and informal artistic relations. Recognizing the complexity of a superdiverse society, the symposium is proposed as a way to resist the increased importance given to market driven arts production – a tendency which we think will lead to monoculture. With your participation, this symposium can be a starting point towards articulating ourselves in an empowering way as a cultural sector towards the public, towards Mr. Gatz and his government, in the future. Unity and consensus among us is not necessarily the goal, but an in-depth and articulated debate are the bare essentials to become a stronger force within a pluralist society.
SOTA invites all concerned art practitioners, organizations, institutions, etc… to gather together. SOTA will offer a set-up with parallel roundtable-discussions, as well as collective sessions, keynote lectures, a coffee bar, kids corner and vegan food.
11:00- 11:30 welcoming + Introduction
11:30 – 11:50 opening lecture – Petra Vanbrabandt + Robrecht Vanderbeeken
12:00 – 12:30 20 discussion groups concerning 5 diversities (see below)
12:30- 12:50 keynote Marianne Versteegh – Kunsten ’92
12:50- 13:20 10 discussion groups concerning 5 diversities
13:20- 14:00 lunch
14:00 – 14:20 keynote Rudi Laermans
14:20- 14:50 5 groups discussion concerning 5 diversities
14:50- 15:00 coffee break
15:00- 15:30 Collective group discussion
15:30- 16:00 public reactions + the Alex Song
Five different and intertwined perspectives on the importance of diversity of and for the arts are proposed as a way to focus the start of the debate:
1. Art as an equal within the diversity of practices in society:
Art as a practice among other practices in society (science, political, economy, trade, education, etc…) can be reinforced by other domains in order to stabilize its social status. We ask the ministry of culture to come up with policies to actively collaborate with other departments, engaging in collaboration while keeping the integrity and singularity of the form.
Therefore the following should be part of the agenda: CAO wages, social security, interdepartemental dialogue (between education, sciences, social affairs, tourism, foreign affairs, internal affairs). The institutes involved in the respective domains of practical organisation of society and its emancipation, should get more space in their mission, for cross disciplinary and post-disciplinary exchanges.
2. Diversity of players within the arts field:
A healthy art field is an ecosystem composed by many different players that are interdependent and reinforce each other. The aim is to preserve and encourage this plurality and multiplicity, safeguarding different scales of art institutions.
3. Diversity of art forms:
The importance of heterogeneity within the arts practices. The intrinsic value of experimental, trans disciplinary, artistic research, social-artistic practices, etc… requires our full attention.
We applaud the bridging of the gap between different disciplines in the new “kunsten decreet”, but in the meantime, we seek awareness of the singularity and specificity of different art practices.
4. The specificity of finance models for the arts within the diversity of economies:
Safeguard the principle of state subsidies as the main instrument for enhancing diversity in arts. Public subventions are inherent to the specific and complex economic organisation of the arts. We refuse the Anglo-Saxon model’s strategy of obligatory private income sourcing for culture.
5. Diversity of organizational models for various art practices:
SOTA strives for the self-organization of artists,They know, better than anyone, the specificity of their practices.
Self-organization should not be confused with the self-reliance of an entrepreneur within a so called ‘creative industry’.
We want to look into the different models of self organisation and how they can be enhanced by policies.