Given the current precarious situation of the Catalonian cultural scene in particular regarding the visual arts, the undersigning representatives from associations and collectives have launched a common working platform with the intention of generating proposals aimed at finding solutions to problems afecting artists, art centre networks, gallerists, critics, curators and by extension, the Catalan society at large.
AS WE UNDERSTAND IT
We have witnessed in recent years a remarkable involution regarding ideas and values linked to culture which are essential to Western democracies. In this respect the economic crisis has often been used to progressively cut back on cultural budgets, specifically applied to the contemporary visual arts, a very recent example being the drastic withdrawal of financial support effected by the Spanish Ministry of Culture.
The administrations ensuing the Spanish political transition period have sustained serious deficiencies right from the onset, particularly in the field of visual arts which situation is a far cry from that of the current European counterparts.
For years, the Catalan visual arts sector has been requesting to all institutions, whether national, municipal and museum-related ones, to confront and solve such chronic shortcomings which so negatively affect several issues among which:
-The role of artistic education in schools
-The lack of connection between universities and cultural agents
-The meagre and decreasing presence of art both in public and private medias
-The frequent lack of rigor when appointing directors of museums and arts centres
-The absolute lack of institutional policy for purchasing contemporary art
-The lack of an ongoing cohesive policy as regards arts centres and creation factories in general and in Barcelona.
-The scant support to creation and broadcasting at national and international levels
-The lack of interest about creating a legal framework referred to the art world tantamount with that of other European states.
The most visible consequences of these shortcomings have become crudely evident with the advent of the economic crisis and have endangered the art system, its potential and its essential contribution to society as a transmitter and broadcaster of both, creation and cultural patrimony.
We are still a far cry from allocating a 2% of the public budgets to culture and as far as Catalonia is concerned, the financial support allocated to promoting and broadcasting activities related to creation and to the cultural enterprise represent on average a meagre 1,75% of all the Culture Department's budget. In recent years they have gone down by 30%.
The department of Culture of the Generalitat local government which we have often approached about these matters, is willing to draft an initial all-embracing plan regarding the visual arts sector; no doubt we value this positively and understand that it should be done with the participation of the agents of the sector, that their criteria will be taken into account and that the precisely outlined objectives shall be shared.
In recent days, the department of Culture, the ICUB and some other entities in the field have shown their will to collaborate in specific projects generated and managed from within. We deem necessary to go into more depth and widen these kind of iniciatives.
To set up mechanisms geared to enhance reflection, communication and participation among the various agents of the visual arts field so as to generate projects that effectively activate the economy of this sector and, when necessary, with the participation of the public sector as long as our necessary critical attitude towards the institutions can be mantained when required.
This is why we wish to create a debate platform among the entities where the acting agents within the Catalonian art system are gathered and so as to:
-Design actions that effectively relate education and culture
-Define a legal frame geared to promote public funding towards contemporary creation and private support regarding structures sustaining production and exhibition, as well as incentivating the purchase of contemporary art work
-Propose to, in the short run, set up a contemporary art collection both private and public, as a means to back up the creative work of our artists and thus become a guideline
-Request public and private medias to devote a more substantial presence to cultural reflection and criticism, particularly as far as the contemporary art field is concerned
-Manifest the critical situation of many public centres concerned with art and propose effective amendments
To this end, our first steps during the next month of May will take us to set up a series of debate sessions in order to diagnose the situation, look for solutions and contribute ideas towards designing an optimal framework regarding visual arts in Catalonia.
Such sessions will have to provide a reciprocity in terms of specialized knowledge and a project exchange plan geared at reactivating the sector through both, private and public initiatives based on management potential.
We'd also like to find shared solutions to specific issues such as visual art production and production in general which currently concerns much more complex issues, thus allowing for new working scopes which the public administrations should promote as well as dealing with matters directly affecting the sector such as the enforcement of copyright or the effective implementation of a good practice code.
Associació Catalana de Crítics d’Art
Art Barcelona, associació de galeries
Associació d’Artistes Visuals de Catalunya
Associació Professional de la Gestió Cultural de Catalunya
Gremi de Galeries d’Art de Catalunya
Instituto de Arte Contemporáneo. Grup Catalunya
Xarxa d'Espais de Creació i Producció de Catalunya (Xarxaprod)