Transparency of the evaluation process of Arts Promotion Center Finland (TAIKE) and comments on a survey of Center for Cultural Policy Research (CUPORE). Part III. (Romeo Kodra)

THE PART B) of the Survey regarded the “Changing nature of being an artists”, which, as expected, did not specify the view on the topic of the institutionalized researchers of the institutions TAIKE/CUPORE that designed the Survey. So, the sub-questions under this topic, to which one could express its opinion from 1 likely/desirability to 5 unlikely/undesirability, regarded exiting themes such as “networking of the artists”, “employment/entrepreneurship”, “finances”, “utilization outside the field of art”, “blurring boundaries between art and other fields”, “multidisciplinarity”, “continuous readiness for change”, “broader expertise (e.g. marketing)”, “technology”, “digitization”, “social media”, “entertainment”, “impact on well-being and vitality”. The only questions I had in my mind during all the reading of this part of the Survey was “Where the fuck the researcher/s that designed this Survey think/s is living?”. The amazement to see how these people write cliches, characteristic obviousness that one can find in every banal discussion on social media among Sunday morning art amateurs, is depressing, especially considering that he/she/they is/are payed handsomely with public money. In my opinion, the people that designed the Survey do not understand at all and do not problematize the position from which are delivering the questions. In other words, beyond their paternalistic, psychoanalytical, and behaviorist approach that characterizes the contemporary cognitive capitalism, the person/s who designed the Survey do/es not question its/their position, its/their being within an institution and its/their being institutionalized. Luckily, there was a box where one could say something else, beyond the stupid asked sub-questions, where I wrote:

“Society is becoming more and more a society of the spectacle, where the policies are driven by the private interests of big corporate groups. These last control, through financing election campaigns, the political parties, and, consequently the public art and culture institutions as well as private art and culture institutions thanks to the philanthropic facade. The economic development will be controlled even more. Therefore, even the changes in working life and political power structures will pressure the artistic freedom to privilege the artists’ servility and the art-washing practices. The art and culture institutions thanks to, even”

but unfortunately the space to conclude a minimally articulated thought finished because of the limited characters.

THE PART C) of the Survey regarded the “Status of the artist in society” and was very interesting for its design. In my opinion, the researcher/s strategy and through them the institutions they are part of as well as the politicians/political parties which govern through these institutions, is to safely justify and save its/their ass/es from not giving appropriate feedback for the evaluation as well as take responsibilities for their decision-making. This strategy consists in asking immediately in the first sub-question “How important do you consider the following criteria in making funding decisions for the arts?”, which has 15 statements where one can evaluate from “1/very important” to “5/not at all important” or “cannot say”. Someone that does not know very well the logic of the neoliberal governmentality and how is delivered through the institutional discourses cannot understand the relation between the “status of the artist in society” and “criteria in making funding decisions for the arts”. So, why is our imaginary researcher that designed the Survey making this connection? It is simply to channel the attention of the people participating in this Survey to a supposed common understanding that the “status of the artist in society” is something that interest the artists themselves as well as the public, the taxpayers. After doing so, in the 15 listed statements we have all, again, supposed common understanding of the “quality and standards of the art”, “access and accessibility”, “intrinsic value”, “commercial/potential market”, “the role of art in promoting cultural dialogue”, “in promoting health and well-being”, “in promoting creative economy”, “the role of art in offering new perspectives”, “the role of the art in taking a stand”, “the entertainment value of the art”, “the importance of grants and subsidies as recognition and an incentive”, “the social impact of the art”, “regional equality”, “equality between different fields of the arts”, “the fair and equal treatment of applicants”. One could ask, why should I, as artist, need a status? For example I wrote: “The ‘status’ and ‘artist’ is a syntagmatic contradiction in terms”. Does it make any sense to our imaginary institutionalized researcher of TAIKE/CUPORE? Or why should I, as taxpayer, pay for art based on those 15 statements? Cannot be 16 or 1016 other meaningful statements? Or cannot change from time to time and periodically according to the spatial-temporal situation of the contexts (locally and globally)?

Then there were some claims that one could evaluate, not less stupid than the previous sub-questions. For example, “there is a desire in society to improve the status of artists” and things like that. One could ask, why is this statement after taking for granted in the previous section the “status of the artist in society” and the consequent 15 statements? The only thing with a minimal sense was regarding the universal basic income which do not make a distinction of status because it is universal. So, not about artists or any supposed elite … not about any division.

Yet, another example that underlined the perfidious strategy of the Survey was something articulated like “decision-makers have sufficient skills to respond to the needs of artists”. One could ask, if TAIKE/CUPORE do not give feedback on the evaluations and the rationale of the decision-makers that justify their decision, how can one evaluate weather those decision-makers have or not have sufficient skills to evaluate and take decisions? Isn’t it a way of the institution and neoliberal governmentality to abstract itself, to make a clear division from the people that work for the institution, the poor hard-working-industrious evaluators of TAIKE/CUPORE, and make pressure on them and their qualities thanks to the expected negative feedback of the participants of the Survey? Isn’t this a manner for the institutions TAIKE/CUPORE to detach itself from the people that work for TAIKE/CUPORE leaving them in front of the negative feedback. As I see it, the hidden strategic intention of our imaginary researcher that designed the Survey is that it is not the fault of the institutions and neoliberal governmentality which should survive intact (LONG LIVE THE NEOLIBERISM AND THE CAPITAL!!!), but of the evaluators and decision-makers that do not have sufficient skills.

However, I do not want neither to justify any person within these institutions, because I think that the evaluators that do not take position and accept to evaluate proposals without giving feedback are accomplices of the neoliberal institutions and governmentality.

Yet, at the end of the section, fortunately, there was another box where Survey’s depressed participants like me could add “comments and additional information”, and release their valve of depression as well as have their dose of illusion and feel better for at least 2 minutes:

“Every predefined “role” is a deadly coffin for every art and artist. The contemporary institutionalized ignorance seems does not recognize anymore the origins of the relations between art and institutions. In ancient Athens, the first institutionalized art form, the theater, was born as an acceptance of the total alterity/otherness, the animal reign of Dyonises, by the ‘demos’/society/people of Athens, and, by the way, the first awarded theater piece was Aeschyles’ “Persians” … so by the public was accepted not only a piece on the ‘others’ but also a theater piece on the enemies, the tragic fate of whose, after the defeat against the Athens, was able to move the spirit of the Athenian society.
This is easy to understand. But, I do not have any illusion in this regard, because the idiocy of a defined “role of the artists” as well as “status of the artist”, which by definition should resist any role and status, will appear in other calls for proposals, research papers, policies, etc.”

… continues with the last part.

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