Self Directed Title: The ‘Creative’ Ireland Project: Cultural Policy Agendas Collide with the Field of Socially Engaged Art
In a binary system epoch of a neoliberal hegemonized ideology, cultural policies impact socially engaged ‘art’ and its practice development through political and economic instrumentalisation. The unique art ideal of human creative expression continues to be subsumed by prosperous privatised institutions. Public art or social engaging art’s fundamental aims of political, societal, economic and environmental ‘change’ are disparate from the dominant neoliberalism art values, such as individualism, entrepreneurship, and self-employment due to the creation of participatory art in both fields. Ireland’s cultural policies acts concerning the arts and creative activities are influenced by the rise of ‘new labour’ in the United Kingdom (1997), activating the introduction of Ireland’s creative sector paradigm (Curren, 2010). Thereafter Ireland’s creative industry was awakened through the newly established UK Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) (1998). The Irish government policy document entitled “Building Ireland’s Smart Economy” (2008) generated the economic goal of becoming an ‘innovative island’: leveraging the arts, culture and creative sectors as a world class business division, here Ireland’s creative industries will be primary economic contributors. Moreover Dublin Economic Development Action Plan (2009) highlighted the prominence of a ‘vibrant city’ and obtaining and conserving creative individuals in the city landscape (Curren & van Egeraat, 2010). The Global Creativity Index presents Ireland’s creative average intensity (creative occupations/all occupations in creative industries) as moderate, with a ranking position of 13th (Florida, 2015). Opportunities for enhancement are thus emerging through the market-driven creative occupation-based measurements.
The predominance of a neoliberalist systematic growth with the adoption of a creative ecosystem has amalgamated arts and culture towards a knowledge based economy: the new source of value for capital (i.e. creativity). Ireland’s government has demonstrated a cultural policy imperative to launch the ‘creative Ireland project’ and temporarily suspend austerity in the arts, culture and creative sectors. This paper will critically discuss Ireland’s economic-driven creative project with contemporary cultural policy proceedings, subsequently demonstrating a political-economy withdrawal of socially engaged arts practitioners to become radicalised artists in resistance to neoliberal principles.
Ireland’s Creative Economy: The Rise of Cultural Policy Motives from the Economic Collapse:
Ireland’s macroeconomic performance since the economic crisis of 2008 is strengthened via the concurrence of fiscal policy proceedings with restoring political and policy-making institutions (Whelan 2013). Instrumentalisation of the endogenicity of cultural policy actions in Ireland’s system is manifested in governmental initiative instances similar to Creative Ireland, The Creative Ireland Project and Culture 2025. These projects commodify the arts and creative sectors for employment, occupation and industry betterment. The commoditisation in advancing economies (i.e. Ireland) is displayed with political spin-doctor motives for economic boosts in the connecting sectors of cultural policy. Heather Humphreys, newly assigned from Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation to Minister for Arts, is best suited to the neoliberal ideology of the alternative public policy methodology. Gray (2007) argues that state involvement in art and cultural polices is a repercussion of other societal re-developments: “cultural policy does not operate in splendid isolation from broader pressures within society” (Gray, 2007). Political actors such as Humphreys decide on apt cultural policy frameworks in light of re-structuring occurrences within Ireland’s society, prior to this event the arts and cultural policies was burdened by privatisation. State involvement was imposed with the creative policy inclusion (Gray, 2007). This emergence has illustrated Ireland’s labour market attractiveness by strengthening avenues such as competition, talent, innovation, driving enterprise growth and new labour force challenges (Action Plan for Jobs 2017), resulting in labour force polarisation across the economic spectrum.
Ireland’s creative industry cycle is represented by policy-makers and government lobbyists pursuing the heralding of a revamped ‘Tiger Economy’ in a big business and multinational corporation digital age, for example Forfás (dissolved). Enterprise Ireland and Creative Ireland are providing a high- growth sector with an immense rise in value addition to employment, in a method of supply and demand technological realm (Henry & Johnson, 2008). Currently, the sector is deemed synonymous to a facilitation movement toward a highly profitable knowledge based economy. This is partially merited as the urbanist Richard Florida’s creation: the propelling growth of globalisation communication networks and digital technology has situated the creative industries amongst the fastest evolving in the international economy (Henry & Johnson, 2008). Envisioned as cultural– political economy from a societal imaginary context, it is founded on state-run projects to provoke the creative economy inception. Together culture, policy and industry are sustaining capitalism by reforming and modernising the creative industries from creative cities and hubs, creative hybrid socio-economic organisations and corporations (Taylor, 2012). More specifically, Irish policymakers are spearheading the Culture 2025 framework policy for a conjunctional relationship of art privatised and public sectors and government departments and state agencies (Humphreys, 2016). Ireland’s state supporting the expansion of art, culture and creative structures will demand higher prosperity from competitive, self employed and entrepreneurial individuals and organisations, with this supplying a creative education system that produces a large volume of up- skilled economic agents (Durken, 1994). With this situation in tension with an internal contradiction of capitalism, a financial crisis could yet again eventuate.
The Cultural Value Project: Responding to Contemporary Neoliberal Art and Cultural Agendas:
Complimentary to the policies enacted by England’s Arts Council, the rhetoric of ‘Third Way’ governmental enlightenment is instrumentalized by a marketisation and privatisation motivation for cultural policy agenda measures (Hewitt, 2012). The Creative Ireland Programme is homogeneous to the economic and social policies by the English Parliament. Hewitt underlines Third Way cultural policy acts as an elitist driver toward government, local authorities, state agencies, and organisations’ privatisation in a cultural capitalism strategy. The featured rhetoric is defined as a three way strand mode: art as a form of cultural democracy, art as an economic drive, and art providing solutions for social amelioration. Consequently Third Way citizenship transpires by conditioning individuals to engage and prosper in the new wave economic system (Hewitt, 2012). Ascertaining societies’ understanding of cultural value is dependent on the magnitude of social inclusion, engendering an overarching principle for the ‘amorphous beast’ cultural funding system (Holden, 2004). Funding bodies, DCMS, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) and Creative Ireland marshal data-based knowledge on the social outcome activities, as public funding footing is funnelled by ‘economy, efficiency and effectiveness’. Cultural organisations operate their merit from “tourism, regenerated cities and assisting businesses to succeed” (Holden, 2004). The mere essence of cultural value is neglected in market-driven movements of competition, innovation and creativity. Cultural enrichment is constraint by funders issuing policy regulation in explicit and implicit developments (Holden 2004). The elusive phenomenon of cultural value is augmented via controlling hegemonic polarisation, in reaction to the state’s motion “arts and culture have the greatest impact on society through stimulation of individual reflection, empathy and imagination creating ‘critical citizenship” (Crossick, 2016). The direction of future events is shrouded by the hierarchy of power and technological revolution, rendering societal change a matter for active citizens who experience revelations in the cultural policy matrix.
Absorbing the arts and culture inside the digital landscape binary of the creative industries and innovative economy fosters potential for a cohort group of social art activists to prevent the rise of inequalities, climate change, malnourishment, and gentrification, channeling the success rate by five modes of art engagement (observational, curatorial, interpretive, inventive and ambient) (Crossick, 2016). Matarasso’s (1997) study on art participation suggests that the multiplicity of art disciplines that involve a participatory art context has the capacity to address critical social problems. Whatever the classification of social and economic backgrounds or individual prejudices, it is innate for humanity to respond to art distribution (Matarasso’s, 1997). A difficulty persists with art world apathy, indicating this as the augmentation of cultural capital by utilising the propagation of social structures. The individual is defined as a confined institutionalised asset determined by their economic wealth and social classification (Bourdieu, 1986), obedient to the consumerist identity with acceptance of cultural agendas. The Western democracy digital age attempts to ensure large population masses are engaging and participating in political, economic, socio-cultural and technological avenues. In the cultural policy detail, the nurturing of creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, the safeguarding of continuity and development is necessary to produce Ireland’s market-driven economic system. This causes Ireland to be ranked second place in EU economic competitiveness and 6th in the world category (this is Ireland, 2017). Disregarding the arts by consolidating a neoliberal mechanism will encourage a conscious retaliation of art practices that are socially engaged, striving to counter a structural inequality status.
The Socially Engaged Art Practice Pattern: Consumed by Educational Institutions to Become Actors in Cultural Policy Change:
Attaining policy reform and demonstrating resistance to cultural hegemony is indicated in three divergent strategies: engagement, exodus and interstitial distance (Mahoney, 2017). Mouffe (2008) draws attention to the two contemporary paradigms of power: ‘disciplinary society’ (.i.e. education, factory and prison systems) in antithesis to ‘societies of control’ (“mechanisms of command become inherent to the social field, dispensed to the brains and bodies of the citizens”). Engagement strategy corroborates the particular project mandate and engagement propositions are approved and enforced, influencing state policy from the interior of liberal democratic politics (Deleuze 1997; Mouffe 2008). The Occupy movement was a internationally run cooperative that campaigned against social and economic inequality, aiming for alternative forms of democracy with socio- economic justice. Exodus denotes a mature model of policy action, opposing the obstacles of politics, consisting of a mass desertion (Mouffe, 2008). Liberate Tate art collective functioned its ventures on creative intervention in respect of social change. Many of Tate’s artworks are creatively disobedient pieces that operate inside state institutional open spaces. Interstitial distance is the third strategy which functions on the instrumentalization radicalisation of establishments (Mahoney, 2017). Diverse objectives with closely tied goals, the three highlighted strategies are participatory art group discourses that embrace the idea of ‘change’ in the current economic climate. The quandary becomes apparent when socially engaged art (SEA) actors are confined by conditions in education institutions, who perhaps are radical prior to this undertaking. Mouffe’s proponent of Gramsci’s term ‘war of position’ suggests the cultural hegemonic apparatus will be defeated when the multiple injustice behaviours are eradicated by replacing capitalism with a new radical economic system. This will be achieved by counter-hegemonic interventionism (Mouffe, 2008), implying the dismantling of political and economic predominance is inevitably contingent.
The California College of Art launched the first ‘social practice art’ MFA in 2005. Many other art schools have followed suit by developing masters-level certification programs (Frasz & Sidford 2017). Courses in SEA practice utilise hybrid methods and art-forms with new and old technologies that promote updated expertise, applying a creative process learning conjunction of art participation with alternative ways of addressing audiences in specific community settings (Frasz & Sidford 2017). It is debatable whether this juncture of SEA education goers is either an engagement of agonistic politics or interstitial distance from state institutions. The succeeding phase of the narrative is crucial: to proceed into the labour force as a systemic pawn or join the phenomenon of art activism. Sholette (2016) argues a butterfly effect of extraordinary regressive mass animosity that circulates in nations globally from the Brexit and Trump campaigns, which triggered a cumulative consequence of chauvinistic, ani-immigrant and climate-change-denying movements (Sholette 2016). Throughout a time of catastrophic despair art and activism collaboration that addresses social, political, economic and environmental issues is essential. In Ireland, provoking cultural policy ‘change’ will materialise from a participatory art mass boycott of Culture 2025. In contrast using the SEA field to construct a new social and political order originates from personalised agendas regarding social values and beliefs (UCLAN, 2017). Reflection on preceding art movements that embodied resistance to unjust laws, economic exploitation and authoritarian power is critical before engaging in SEA civil disobedience.
The propagation of neoliberalism manipulation is merged with Ireland’s ‘creative’ market system by indulging it under the cultural policy canon. Reassessing and imagining an unorthodox socio- economic system is what countless art movements envisaged in response. The elitist cultural institutions continued to be triumphed by privatisation of culture and consumerist entertainment (Esche, 2007). In a hyperactive society, humanity becomes vastly disillusioned under political and economic domination. The art autonomy ideal of complete emancipation will solely thrive by a complete mass departure of the conditioned spectacle of society (Debord 1967; Esche, 2007). Predetermined social factors and cultural aspects controlled by institutions and government is undoubtedly compromised. Conceivably the interstitial distance solution of ubiquitous issues is entrusted to motivated radical SEA educators through the liberation of transformative education (Connelly, 2012), rendering to aspire to inspire by pre-empting expiration.
Ireland’s cultural policy initiative is a transformation of creativity in order to augment citizen participation within the entire art spectrum. This agency of governmental priority will undoubtedly encourage a negative impact on the art sectors through funding intermediaries. The dispersion of neoliberal globalisation with Ireland’s market social and economic goals is a manoeuvre to obstruct the art evolution, thus enforcing a liquidity of constraints via the rise of Ireland’s commercial capital to artists devotees. It is indispensable for the participatory art spheres to engage and mobilise audiences in cross-disciplinary strategic (engagement, exodus and interstitial distance) endeavours to sustain genuine ‘change’. In essence, by coaxing socially engaging art inventive movements’ oppressive ideologies could be overhauled with concurring serenity.