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

THE SURVEY. On 8th of September, I received an email from TAIKE and the Center for Cultural Policy Research CUPORE. Basically it regarded the request to participate by compiling a questionnaire about:

“the views of artists working in different fields of the arts regarding the future.
The questionnaire asks about new/changing forms of being an artist, trends that are affecting the work of the artist, the future prospects for artists and issues related to the diversity of artistic work.
The questionnaire for artists has been sent to one in three artists who applied for a grant from Taike in 2020.
The link to the questionnaire is open and can be shared. The link can also be found on the Taike and Cupore websites, as well as on the communication channels of various arts organisations (artist associations, foundations and arts information centres, for example).
We ask that you respond to the questionnaire by clicking on the link below by 30 September 2021. We hope that you will respond to all the questions and express your own views freely. The views of individual artists are very valuable for the results of the barometer.
Everyone who responds and provides their contact information will be entered into a prize drawing for the chance to win one of 20 Museum Cards.”

Fortunately, I was one in three lucky artists to receive the email and link directly.

The first part A) of the questionnaire was “Living and working as an artist”, a clear reference to the specific, well-defined and alienating capitalist category of the “ARTIST”, where it was required to tick the boxes of the “field” (architecture, visual arts, cinema, etc.). Within the same session was a specific question, “What is your profession as an artist”, to which I replied “visual art and cultural researcher” just to confuse the ideas of the “researcher” handling the questionnaires, for whom the life would have been much easier to see as a reply “painter”, “architect” or any other XIXth Century definition. There were also some claims:

“An artist is any person who defines them (I think it is a wrong translation because in Finnish is itsensä/itself) as an artist
An artist is a person who earns their main livelihood by doing artistic work.
An artist is a person who has received an art education.
An artist is a person who meets the criteria defined by an artists’ association in their field of art.
An artist is a person who receives artist grants based on peer reviews.
An artist is a person who receives copyright income.
An artist is a person who is recognised as an artist by the artist community.
An artist is a person defined as such by the audience.
A person is born an artist.
The profession of an artist is a vocation.
The profession of an artist is a profession among others.
Creating art is a livelihood among other livelihoods.”

to which one could tick the boxes “strongly agree”, “partially agree”, “neither agree nor disagree”, “partially disagree”, “strongly disagree”, “cannot say”. Accept the first claim with which I strongly agree, the large part of the other claims are still orbiting around the institutional logic of categorization of the ARTIST, or, as the last four, pure abstract definitions the use of which by professional researchers I cannot imagine.
In addition, there was another question, “Have you worked as an artist outside the field of the arts (e.g. education, social and health services, construction)?” and request for more specifications such as “financial reasons’, “personal interest”, “other reasons”. Moreover, there was the question “In addition to your work as an artist, have you performed other work that is unrelated to your professional skills as an artist?” and same specifications. Regarding both these questions I see some problems. Firstly, because although as any other I think that there were relations between my artistic practice and the position of cultural manager or university art lecturer, I did not think I was “outside” the field of the arts”. I also think that there were more relations between my artistic practice and the supposed unrelated work of loading and unloading trucks and cargo, cleaning public transportation buses of Espoo, testing colors in a textile dyeing plant laboratory, etc., rather than between my artistic practice and the practice as cultural manager or art educator. At least, if I have to chose to which category “I belong” (and, by the way, I would never chose to belong to any category!!!), I would say I related more to the category of migrant sub-proletarian worker rather than to the category of working artist or cultural operator supported by TAIKE’s grants. Moreover, I do not think am the only one of those supported by TAIKE to think the same way regarding their “performed other work that is unrelated to [their] professional skills”. (…continues)