We live in a fast-changing world!
COUNTING WHAT COUNTS, Report on the CultureWatchEurope conference on ‘Cultural Access and Participation – from Indicators to Policies for Democracy’ (Helsinki, 30 June 2012) says: “arts and culture are not detached from societal developments – nor should they be. These times of fear and austerity are taking a toll on culture. National culture budgets are cut, ministries of culture are merged with other fields into ‘superministries’, urgently needed building renovations are postponed, and new construction projects are scaled down or cancelled. In some European countries, governments are cutting spending on art by 30-50 per cent. Hardest hit is taken by emerging artistic forms and styles on the fringes – the ones
not established as part of the cultural infrastructure.
Times like these call for re-evaluation of dominant paradigms. But as Council of Europe’s Director of Democratic Governance, Culture and Diversity Robert Palmer stated in his opening words for the Helsinki meeting, the current political reactions do not provide much ground for optimism. Both in economy and culture, the responses are closer to damage limitation than problem solving. Rather than attempting to revise the systemic logic that led to this mess, most parties focus on making sure that they lose less than the next guy. These tough economic times highlight the challenges in the ways the cultural field is currently able to make its case.”
For many the times are confusing. The printed magazine Neues Glas/New Glass stopped publishing last month, the creative gap we fill now with Glass is more! and announced to be released at the beginning of May as Neues Glas /New Glass Art & Architecture a day after publishing Newsletter 7.
This duality of tough events and optimistic lightness is shown in almost all contemporary items.
“By far the most significant acceleration was in our technologies of connection. In June 2000, 97 million mobile phone subscribers existed in the United States; in June 2010, the number rose to 293 million. Urban and suburban Americans swim in a sea of WiFi.”
On the tossing waves of Twitter and Facebook more and more readers find Glass is more! the new media partner of the Dutch National Glass Museum in Leerdam.
“We live in one of the world’s richest nations”, Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, recently said. “There’s nothing wrong with the Netherlands that we can’t fix.” But the Wall Street Journal wrote: “The package presented by Mr. Rutte adds austerity measures beyond those already announced for 2013 to 2017. His government aims to save another €4.3 billion ($5.64 billion), largely through a salary freeze in the public sector and health care. It will also maintain a tax increase for higher incomes and scrap a tax benefit for companies.”
A survey of municipalities regarding expectations for cultural policy and cuts by Berenschot, with the participation of Kunsten ’92, VNG and Multiscope on 29 January 2014 reports: Despite forced budget cuts, municipalities attach value to culture. This is the finding of Berenschot in the framework of the Municipal Congress on Culture, organized by the Kunsten ’92 association on Thursday 30 January. Municipalities were asked about their expectations for culture in the next local council agreements. 57 of the 65 municipalities who participated in the survey expect that culture will be part of the council agreements, and that goes for almost all of the 22 largest municipalities that cooperated. Themes that will play a major role are cultural education, cultural entrepreneurship and its relationship with other areas such as the social domain.
With half of the shops and gallery spaces abandoned, we soon live in city centres that look like a wasteland.
“Is the Art Market Becoming a Supply-Side Economy? An Argument Against Art Fairs” wrote Benjamin Genocchio on BlouinArtInfo last year.
Galleries are closing, or pop up on art fairs: “I was taken aback recently when one dealer blithely said “18” after I asked how many fairs he had attended in the past year. That is one fair every three weeks. Even in this event-driven economy, I shuddered at the thought of the logistics involved in maintaining such a schedule, let alone the physical toll on the dealer. Many dealers say they have no choice.” On the other hand, this situation provokes creativity, as we saw in Strijp-S in Eindhoven during the Dutch Design Week.
Andy Crouch wrote in the Ten Most Significant Trends of the Last Decade:
“The revival of American cities was underway already in 2000, but it reached its full flowering by 2010. Of course not every single American city flourished in the last decade, but those of us old enough to remember New York, Chicago, Atlanta, or Houston circa 1990 -not to mention Portland, Columbus, or Phoenix - can only be astonished at the way economically fading and often crime-ridden city centres revived as centres of commerce and creativity.”
As galleries are closing, the magazine Metropolis M reports:
“Dutch art museums attract too many visitors. Last week the Boijmans Van Beuningen museum mentioned they expect three hundred thousand visitors, 50,000 more than last year. The Rijksmuseum even had an all-time high of 2.2 million visitors. Earlier there was already the Stedelijk Museum that managed to draw 650,000 visitors the first year after its opening. Year after year the Groninger Museum scores about 200,000 visitors; a few months after its opening the new Stedelijk Museum ’s?Hertogenbosch is on 100,000 visitors already; this year the Bonnefanten is heading straight for a record, just like De Pont which in recent years arrived at a total of more than 100,000 visitors. The Frans Hals is well above 150,000, and I could go on and on.”
And the magazine concludes: “It’s about time that bullshit about the Dutch art world turning its back to the audience stops. I’m inclined to say the opposite: Dutch art museums are currently totally obsessed with blockbusters; it is time they become somewhat more elitist once more.”
Now and Next forecaster wrote in Top Trends in Society & Culture:
“We increasingly live in a world that forgets. Companies have almost no sense of their own history while politicians positively revel in the fact that voters cannot remember (or choose to forget) lies, deceptions and even criminal behaviour. This is a problem because power is essentially a battle between memory and forgetting. Unfortunately, memory loss is a by-product of trends like speeding-up and convergence. It means that attention spans can almost be measured in nano-seconds (have you noticed how members of Generation Y won’t wait for anything anymore?). This in turn may give rise to memory loss in older age (cue various technical and pharmaceutical solutions). Conversely, we are also becoming increasingly fixated with preserving our own memory. ‘Life caching’ is a major trend (and a US $2.5 billion industry) where people effectively download (or upload) everything from emails and text messages to photographs, video clips, words and spoken words.
Glass is more! is working to be a clear beacon and to guide you all through high and low seas, making it impossible to forget the history and future of glass art and the art of glass, to publish new possibilities, to show glass in all its appearances and to make the global connections visible in the hope that also the art market will be able to recover again in the near future.
Angela van der Burght © February 2014