The art world is a large, complex and interdependent system: individual freelancers, institutions, artist-led groups, national funders and students must all grapple with financial pressures, unclear career progression, low status and increasing pressure from Government.
Without artists the art world could not exist – but they often endure a highly precarious working environment, modest pay, exploitative opportunities and an impossible work/life balance. Artists are evicted from studios and temporary galleries in newly desirable urban areas to enable gentrification, with our cities becoming increasingly expensive and unaffordable. Organisations retain the bulk of their public funding but reduce artist fees as philanthropic income, officially encouraged to replace falling Government funds, fails to materialise. Art education inadequately prepares graduates for the evolving work environment that they will enter, with financial and business skills denigrated but increasingly vital for freelance careers. And irregular income makes planning or starting a family challenging for a majority of artists.
Six stimulating and provocative conversations between art world professionals, including artists, curators, consultants, gallery directors, academics and researchers will explore core problems in the structure of the art world, and seek to address its contemporary system failure. As well as diagnosing the problems, these conversations aim to suggest alternative ways that the art world might function, in order to improve the status and earning power of visual artists. The events also ask: what are the responsibilities that artists themselves have in how they take part in the art world? The art world system includes artists, and collective action needs to be encouraged to make change.
Join the conversation on Twitter using #aqsystemfailure and for updates and resources on the subjects.
With John Kieffer (writer and cultural critic) and Gilane Tawadros (Chief Executive of DACS)
With Duncan Smith (director ACAVA studios and the National Federation of Artist Studio Providers) and Kirsten Dunne (Senior Cultural Strategy Officer at the Greater London Authority).
With Mark Gubb (artist and regional advicate for the Paying Artists campaign) and Angela Kennedy (artist, founding member of Artists Union England)
This talk is programmed in partnership with a-n the artists information company.
With Ellie Rees (artist) and Lucy Newman Cleeve (Director of Man&Eve Projects)
With Soraya Rodriguez (Diploma Leader at Central St Martins for the BA Fine Art Diploma in Professional Studies) and Doug Fishbone (artist and educator).
With Kirsty Ogg (Director of New Contemporaries) and Marijke Steedman (Curator at Create London).
System Failure events take place at Block 336, an artist-run project space and studios founded in October 2011. Located in Brixton, Block 336 hosts one of the largest, non-institutional and architecturally unique spaces in London. The organisation aims to promote engagement and critical discussion of contemporary art, with an emphasis on collaboration and cross-practice dialogue.