Saturday, June 15, 2013

Ens toca conference / independent inclusive art groups

Trying to make sense after a day full of inspiring talks and presentations by dozens of European independent "gestión cultural" (cultural management) organizations. That is-- non-profit organizations that work directly with local communities (everyone, regardless of identity or citizenship) in order to create art and social awareness projects. I was really amazed with many of their projects, their efforts to be INCLUSIVE, and also the collective and economic situations that enabled them to be carried out. I asked a ton of questions and found out some things--

- many of the groups are financed by a big mix of sources-- donations, municipal subsidies, the European Union/Commission, cash earned during local festivals (from selling drinks, t-shirts...etc.)
- all of the groups had to fight very hard (writing letters, holding protests...) against local gov´t and corporate powers in order to claim a space as their own (i.e. to have a cultural center)
- all the groups relied on both a physical and virtual (internet) space
- all of the groups took several years to establish themselves and flourish, projects didn´t have a quick turn-around
- about half of the the workers I met are volunteers, the other half earn a modest salary and are on renewable year-long contracts
- most of the projects, even though they prioritized getting locals involved, they were not strictly local, rather they involved workers/volunteers/networks/funding in/with other European countries. the fluidity between the European borders was pretty impressive (and maybe a new phenomenon)
- many of the paid workers studied a BA or MA degree in something related to cultural arts

Questions I still have -- does this career or these opportunities in gestión cultural exist in the US? They asked me about the US situation and I could only think of opportunities like this that are sponsored by universities, religious, or political-lobbying groups. I guessed that open groups like this may exist in some progressive urban neighborhoods i.e. on the East or West coasts...but I´d have to research it, I don´t know.

If jobs in gestión cultural exist in the US, then it would be a new direction to send our students when they ask us "what can I do with a degree in liberal arts?" (I get this question weekly.) But... I think this sector doesn´t really exist in the US. Any comments?

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