‘Professional’ ‘Arts’ ‘Organisations’

May 2, 2008

Very thoughtful post from Andrew Taylor on the way in which our taken for granted stance in relation to professional arts organisations is changing. He says

Consider, for example, the three-word phrase that often crops up at such conferences: ”professional arts organization.” This phrase captures, in shorthand, the specific category of cultural endeavor we tend to be discussing. Professional arts organizations require professional management, aesthetic integrity, curatorial control, and stable but responsive structures to hold them together while moving their mission forward. These are the standards that drive our teaching and learning about the field.
But each of those three words — ”professional,” ”arts,” and ”organization” — is in radical flux at the moment. That suggests that a phrase (and an assumption) combining all three could mean less and less in shorthand form.

He goes on to deconstruct each of the three words and also says

what happens to the word ”professional” when works of comparable quality and skill can be conceived, produced, and distributed without expensive or centralized means of production? Flickr has millions of exceptional images, many shot by individuals with no formal training, expecting no pay, and unfiltered by a traditional gatekeeper (curator, publisher, agent)

This is a critically important dialogue that is going to blur the edges of practice. It’s going to have profound implications for stated funded organisations (particularly in countries like Ireland where the aspiration to secure Arts Council funding is both fiscal and a mark of integrity. If anybody can make great work then how do we decide who to distribute the funds to?
Read the full post here