The Future of the Arts

This is a response to Lee Cavaliere's article Visions of the Future, which looks at ideas, trends and opinions informing the future of the UK's arts scene.

This is as true today as it is tomorrow:

  • True art belongs to the home, the street and the community. People will own art, experience it every day, and appreciate it - even if they do not give it the label 'art'.
  • Makers of popular music and the designers of everyday things are more important artists than those who paint pictures for the walls of exclusive galleries.
  • People who paint community murals and those that recycle spare places are more important than those who guard the gates of important institutions.

In the future

  • People will still want to own actual, physical things rather than digital editions; but copies will be widely available. People will print posters, skin their own objects in artwork, and print 3D copies of sculpture. They will use art as the source for adapatation, customisation and the mash up.
  • People will still want to be in the same room as performers; but will not want to be part of a large audience. People will want bespoke, local and intimate entertainment. They will expecht art to talk to them directly, as Gilbert & George prophesied.
  • People will still look to organisations; but will not want organisations to spend their moneys on buildings, structures and staff. People will expect organisations to be careful, clever and accountable. Cultural organisations which rely on the public piggy-bank will have to be open and honest, and learn to take criticism.
  • People will still want excellence and the star name on a bill; but will not look to the big city to provide. People will expect culture to come to them, on their terms. The rise of the Metro and Local supermarket brands show that big brands have to come back to being local at some point.

To do this

  • True innovation, experimentation and creativity will be happening at a local level, driven by community needs and by the good ideas of individuals. Skills and practice will be shared for the common good across the internet. Making will still be important, but like open source software the core code will be shared so many can make. This will mean there will be an element of the cargo cult; but also that good ideas spread and are built upon more quickly than ever before.
  • Agile collaborative partnerships will be formed, bringing together teams to share knowledge and experience as and when project funding becomes available. The sharing of experience and skills will be fast and furious; there will be no specialists, but many experts.
  • Physical resources will be shared, whether they are buildings or equipment. New models will be created to allow such sharing.
  • Large organisations will learn to work with small producers, to make a tailored, local product. They will learn that might is not always right; that the historical repertoire must be revisited and remade; and to share not to control.
  • Funding for the arts will also be agile. Applications for small sums will be simple and fast, with emphasis given to research and development; success with a small project will be recognised by practical support and subsequent funds. Projects which fail in their intital stages will not be given continued funding.
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