* value

Past Project 2013


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For the love of it* is a day long conference that interrogates what it really means to work as an artist today unpicking the reality of an artists life from the professional, the romantic or the career development views of funders and government. It will be an opportunity for artists to focus their priorities, explore the realities of work, and reconsider the limits of professionalisation.

We’ll consider and question four key themes from the day in the run-up to the conference on 15 May: this week, Value.

Questions of value are well-rehearsed: often about how funders, media or those mythic ‘audiences’ value the arts, but rarely adding artists voices into this mix, or even defining a measure of value itself. We’re meant to already understand how and why we value our own work, but this can risk simply boiling down to a monetary value for the time we spend making it. How can we continue to understand and promote artistic value as separate from financial value in a world that champions money over culture?

Artistic practice brings its own rewards – intellectual stimulation, personal recognition within a peer group, engagement with an audience to share ideas, but often not a wage. How do these rewards balance out for artists themselves, and how much are we willing to trade between artistic independence and financial stability?

We may rail against art becoming instrumentalised – turned into a provider of social or cultural ‘services’, to make society feel better – but this is where much of the pay for artists comes from. Has socially engaged practice become an artistic response to squaring the circle of getting paid for making art, demonstrating a wider impact on audiences while fulfilling artistic aims? And what is the relationship between someone who commissions art an artist who makes it ‘to order’?

Other interesting discussions around the internet on artistic value include:

Putting a price on the value of art
Experts agree that arts and culture are an important part of the economy – but the precise relationship is complicated. As governments and organizations increasingly have to justify spending, the big question remains: does investment in the arts stimulate growth, or are the arts the product of economic development?

Does culture matter? Major AHRC project launched
We all have a sense that culture matters to us, that participating in cultural activities, from attending a book club or concert to visiting an art gallery or watching the opening ceremony at last summer’s Olympic Games, is important to us as individuals and as a society. But how do we express, measure or evidence that value?

The Drivers, Impacts and Value work: the largest single piece of policy research published for culture and sport
Comprising three different strands it is the most comprehensive piece of work in this field, assessing a huge range of research and data, setting the foundations for evidence-based policy making.

A debate in February 2012, Against Value in the Arts and Humanities
The crisis in higher education requires a spirited defence of the value of the arts and humanities. In 2011, the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC) staged “The Value of the Arts and Humanities”, providing a platform on many ways of valuing and reasons to value an arts and humanities education from a newspaper columnist, a politician, a businessman, a Higher Education administrator, and an academic critic of Higher Education policy. In response, this event offered a counter proposition: that the task of the arts and humanities, both in their creative and educative aspects, is to contest, to challenge, to question, to undermine, to satirise, to offend, to violate, to deconstruct, to degenerate, to critique, to undo, or to suspend dominant and dominating assumptions of value. The purpose of the arts and humanities, the purpose of the university, is to think against value.

Find out more about the speakers, schedule and buy tickets (£25, including refreshments and lunch).