Thursday, 10 March 2011

'Look Out... Look In' - Moukhtar Kocache

"I imagine our sector rebuilding its alliances with social movements to regain its historic place at the forefront of ideological and social mobilisation."
"On a basic level, this means demystifying our arts institutions, rendering them more transparent and accessible; even, perhaps, re-imagining the use of our spaces and facilities." 

This morning I am reading an interesting essay written by Moukhtar Kocache for the Arts Council England in which he considers the relationship between the arts and government, society and policy. In 'Look Out... Look In', Kocache suggests that the priorities of the free market, 'efficiency, profit and growth', have come to shape and restrict the position the arts hold within our world.

"We have been defensively and frantically engaged in a struggle to convince policymakers of certain instrumental benefits (of which there are many) while ignoring, or failing to make the case for the profound nature and subject of the arts."
As the arts sector has tried to use the language and tools of economics to gain government support it has found itself using "increasingly technocratic, evidence-based and target-driven arguments". In overly focusing on the instrumental benefits there is thus neglect of the 'intrinsic' qualities of art, the qualities that are far less easy to quantify in documents and reports.

Kocache is calling for new arguments for the legitimacy of the arts. He wants 'a new social contract for the arts' that will ensure it holds an active position in the future of our society. Hopefully the CAA, and other Empty Shops projects, will contribute to an alternative to the...
'...False opposites and imagined polarities ... unnecessarily sustained between what is considered to be avant-garde versus mainstream: art for development versus art for art’s sake; curatorial and intellectual versus outreach and public education; and high art versus popular culture'.

Full text here:

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