"I write this from Jerusalem, unable to return to Cairo, my base for the last seven years. There, young people have creatively – and with great heart – chosen to be active participants in shaping their future, revealing in the process, global imminent change, shifting social realities and the decline of traditional moral, political and economic Western hegemonic stability. The moment sheds light for me on the increased connectedness of our world and the opportunity to reflect on how the challenges facing the arts, the urgency of our current situation, has deeper causes than recent cuts to public funding.
Over the last 30 years the position of arts in society has been undamentally weakened in several key ways. A retreat of political philosophy from social policy debates has decoupled the arts from ideas of social progress. Ill-conceived policy and strategy priorities have boxed arts institutions into a corner, stripping them of a vocabulary that might enable escape. Capacity building, reform of leadership development and broader institutional practices have left the arts sector out of kilter with an increasingly interdisciplinary, polymathic and connected world. As institutions we are not as central to the ecologies of creativity and imagination as we might be.
On both sides of the Atlantic and beyond, we need a renewed sense of energy and purpose: a new social contract for the arts. We are at a turning point; for it to be a positive one, we need to examine the deeper currents that have brought us here. This short essay sets out a vision to reposition the arts in society and, by interrogating and unpacking the forces behind our current predicament, suggests where we need to look to in starting to build it. " [...]
Look Out…Look In
Modified on Thursday 12 May 2011