Friday, April 14, 2006

A Thought or Two...from Dr. Slavka Sverakova

A thought or two...
Whatever the OBG did or did not do, it was not open to ACNI to treat this art organisation and its staff without respect and concern. The moral structure of ACNI's decision to withdraw funding with immediate effect during an exhibition, and consequent loss of jobs and of a principal venue, is deeply controversial. Even criminal punishment treats offenders as members bound and protected by the values of open society. ACNI undermined its own legitimacy at least in three ways in this case: first, by withdrawing its own responsibility for the closure of a principal venue; second, by placing the OBG staff without any protective notice not only out of jobs but without a right to appeal; third, by handling the OBG differently from other arts organisations, e.g. claiming an exemptions no 43 and 22 from the FoI Act.
The media, the public and the politicians have not yet paid proper attention to the case, despite the help offered by the civilised outrage, which decidedly is not, what ACNI earlier labelled "a small campaign".
Is ACNI sacrosanct? I doubt it. Arts Council was invented only in 1945 - visual arts ( and all arts) have a somewhat longer history.
People retort to a possible replacement by "would you want the councils to disburse the money?" On the past performances - no. However, the state subsidy could be distributed by a real enabler or two, maybe, housed partly in the British Council for the foreign agenda, and Department of Development/Economy for the home front. The two would bring significant expertise from their respective practices. The art professionals would need to establish some sort of network, like a "parliament of artists" or a "temporary assembly" for an open debate of the issues for which those two respected bodies have not full expertise. I stress the term "full", because as members of the public they have also a say in which direction the NI culture ought to travel. The internet facilitates a debate cheaply and efficiently, and, moreover makes it accessible. It could be complemented by face-to-face symposia, and other meetings.
What do you think about any of this?
Slavka Sverakova


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