25 June 2009

Democratizing Arts Organizations?

I came across a couple of provocative recent columns [1] [2] by Barry Johnson (no relation) in The Oregonian. He first raises and then defends the notion that major arts organizations, many of which are struggling financially, ought to be opened up and democratized. I have to say that I'm pretty sympathetic to his arguments. Around Rochester, for instance, the boards of arts outfits tend to be filled with rich folks. They tend, in my estimation, to be exceedingly risk-averse in their programming. I don't think that convergence is coincidental. More generally, as I argued here in an earlier post, they tend to envision their role as guiding spaces of presentation rather than fostering spaces for creativity. In the former role they hope to tempt suburbanites to venture into the city for an evening or two each year. If they could help provide spaces for creativity they might not only energize the arts for audiences, they might contribute to the social and economic revitalization of the city.

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Blogger Make Better Media said...

Boards of upscale museums often attract collectors who hope to enhance the value of their collections. They do this by having curators exhibit the work of artists which are also represented in their private collections. Such institutional attention and validation tends to boost the monetary value of the work.

It's been an complaint about the curatorial practices of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago for years.

25 June, 2009 13:39  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

You are kidding me! There is money involved here? I am shocked! shocked! and thoroughly mortified.

Just kidding - your point is a good one. Thanks

26 June, 2009 07:46  

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