Subscription 790/year or 190/quarter

End of neutral cultural money

Everyone agrees that culture and industry are a good combination. Except the artists. They should see the possibility of capital as a gift package, writes Anne-Britt Gran.


The tributary tribute to the interaction between culture and industry announces a new cultural policy rhetoric in Norway: Culture should be promoted that industry, and at the same time be a driving force and creative capital in an innovative business life. This is what all the parties, including the FRP, agree on. Even SV's Kristin Halvorsen praised culture as good business policy in Aftenposten's cultural policy series before the election. This presents Norwegian artists with new challenges, new artistic opportunities and new fresh money. Nevertheless, these new opportunities are far from tempting the entire artist community, which constantly continues to focus on the Norwegian state as a patron. It is historically understandable, but remarkably uncreative – both artistically and financially.

The new one spoke about culture and business is not a transient cultural policy phenomenon, a trend that is soon passing. Development is taking place throughout Europe. This new rhetoric is also not the right-wing cultural policy invention. In Norway, the new marriage between culture and industry was introduced in 2001 by the women's Labor Party, Minister of Culture Ellen Horn and Minister of Trade and Industry Grete Knudsen, in the theme booklet Tango for two. That this year there was a report to the Storting on culture and industry (Report to the Storting no. 22, 2004-2005) from the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs, one can also thank the Labor Party for. With a strong Labor Party, and an SV that "will use culture as a tough, offensive investment" (Halvorsen again), such a culture + industry policy will be continued by the new red-green government. This will happen regardless of whether they succeed with the big cultural promise – to get the culture budget up to 1 percent of gross national product. It is both logically and politically possible to advocate increased public support for cultural life and the strengthening of culture and business links at the same time.

Culture and nutrition in all combinations will be part of the cultural policy of the future and partly also the business policy of the future, although I believe that the latter will go uncommonly slowly in the oil and engineering country Norway. The reasons for the new political initiatives on culture and industry are derived from theories of experience economics, about the creative class and about branding of places, as well as from other pioneering countries in the field.

The growth in cultural life budgets no longer comes primarily from the public sector, but from private sponsors and from increased sales revenue (depending on the cultural sector). In the five-year period 1999-2004, public support for cultural life in Norway increased by 0,4 per cent, while the share of sponsorship funds increased by 3,3 per cent (measured in proportion of cultural institutions' total budget, Report Perduco / Cultura Capital 2005). Internationally, private business involvement and investment in cultural life has become so extensive that one has begun to talk about corporate cultural politics – ie companies' cultural policy. One reason for this is that cultural institutions and artists are increasingly used in companies' marketing and competence development, a use that for the artist does not have to involve commercialization or artistic adaptation to the client. Companies have often pre-selected the artists and art institutions they can live with. Now, not all artists and institutions the private business community wants to live with, especially not in Norway, and therefore public support schemes are very important to enable artistic diversity.

The Storting Report on Culture and Industry is a historical document in the Norwegian context. It is an expression of a turnaround in both Norwegian cultural and business policy, and in the overall sector division into Norwegian politics as such. Perhaps the most separate areas of them all – the art world and the private business world – are brought together in a new national discourse. Historically, this is an expression of a so-called dedifferentiation, ie a phase when areas or sectors in society that were previously strictly separated (differentiated) are connected / merged again in new ways. The self-governing modern art institution that took shape during the 1800th century – previously art was not autonomous – is today under strong pressure. Autonomy is threatened from many angles – from the economy, the media, religion – which may explain the intensified defense of the freedom of art today. The differentiation produces new hybrids, impurities and disorder – from the point of view of the modern order. In the early 1990s, it was the cultural policy itself that was to be cross-sectoral. In St. meld. 61 "Culture in Time" (1991-1992), this sectoral shift primarily meant an aestheticization, a beautification, of our public environment. Today, it is no longer cultural policy that should be cross-sectoral, now culture must be part of one sectoral innovation policy. In the Storting Committee's recommendation (Recommendation no.230 2004-2005) The recommendation from the Family, Culture and the Administration Committee on Culture and Business) we can read: «The Committee promotes the following proposals: The Storting asks the Government to present a comprehensive sectoral action plan in which the industry – and the policy instruments for innovation policy are actively used to ensure better utilization of the potential that lies in the intersection of culture and industry ”. Thus, there is a cross-political agreement to pursue sector-wide innovation policy with culture as a contributing factor.

How does the artist stand? to the new cultural and business connections? The stand is skeptical. A prevailing mentality in Norwegian cultural life has been that private money is unclean and that public funds are a guarantee for the artists' freedom and an independent art. Opposition to culture and industry is not surprisingly most strongly expressed in the Young Artists' Society (UKS) and at the Oslo Academy of the Arts (KHiO). A recent conference on Art and Capital at KHiO – a collaboration with BI Norwegian Business School and the Forum for Culture and Business – provoked strong reactions. The leader of UKS, Trude Iversen, asks in Klassekampen on 22 September what in the world the Oslo Academy of the Arts is going to do with stronger ties to the business community. Eivind Slettemeås (chair of the board of UKS), Tone Hansen (research fellow at KhiO) and Frode Markhus (student board) agree with Iversen and believe that the Oslo Academy of the Arts should not deal with cultural and business connections. Nor is the Norwegian Cultural Council a natural arena for this topic, it is claimed in the same newspaper, in connection with the Cultural Council's annual conference in November, which will be about private fund financing and will be held at BI.

That young and older artists need to defend the freedom of the artists, the autonomy of the arts and public support schemes, is not difficult to understand. But shouldn't Norway's largest art school and the Norwegian Cultural Council be the right arenas for the debate on culture and industry? The new cultural-political and economic challenges in Norwegian cultural life are not lost if KHiO and the Norwegian Cultural Council stick their heads in the sand.

The new rhetoric about culture and industry seems to frighten many Norwegian artists who for decades have placed their financial trust in the Norwegian state. But is it now necessarily so appropriate for art and the diversity (usually a plus word) of art expression that artists have only one tithe – the anonymous public? Is it now so certain that this money is so much cleaner than the private funds? History tells us that art's clients and forms of financing have had a great deal to say about what kind of art forms and art expression one gets. It is therefore time to start analyzing what kind of ART we have received in Norway with the State as the only patron. Is this art as brilliant as the support schemes that funded it?

That which marvels with the Norwegian artists' distance from cultural and business links, is that they see so little artistic the possibilities of getting closer to capital and the economic system, yes, power. How many artists did not want Latin America and Eastern Europe (back then), because there art had a social function, a critical function, yes, even a political function. The same artists can praise the Renaissance art for its beauty or its subversive function, even though it was 100 percent bought and paid for by the Catholic Church or the princes (and here it was not a question of gentle purity, but missionary art under strong control). At the same time, the very idea of ​​a commissioned work today, which has not been commissioned by the public, is rejected. "Mission art is not art, but advertising and marketing," art college students argued at the KHiO conference on Arts and Capital. Don't students learn art history at that school? Are DnBNOR and Siemens more dangerous and inferior clients than the Catholic Church and Italian princes were? For what is the rationale? That today's capitalist system is worse than past feudalism? Even Marx saw capitalism as an advancement of the feudal system. For decades, artists have called for contexts to be critical and subversive, while rejecting private business as such. Once they receive a gift package, art becomes an important instrument in the capitalist machinery and the artists can play new main roles, affirmative as critical, then they step off and shout at the State.

The same artists are supporters of any diversity, be it ethnic, sexual or artistic. When it comes to the forms of art's financing, on the other hand, diversity no longer has any value, here a monomaniacs trust the state monopoly. Belief in pure public funds is still a cornerstone of the Norwegian art field. As far as I can see, these public funds do not necessarily stimulate the need for communication among artists. And when the state's cultural policy and the private business sector have approximately the same interests in culture – more innovation in the Norwegian economy, more tourism and more exports of Norwegian goods – it will gradually become quite impossible for the artist community to maintain the myth of pure public funds. . The time of the neutral disinterested money is over, to the extent that they have ever had their time. It has never been the intrinsic value of culture that has led politicians to open their wallets, even if they sometimes pretend to be the case. The point of turning culture into politics is about giving culture a socially beneficial function; nation-building, formative, health-bringing, integrative or innovation- and sales-promoting. Norwegian cultural policy was not invented as a defense of independent art – something many artists obviously believe – but as a defense of the Norwegian language, Norwegian culture, Norwegian education and national values.

Personally, I favor a cultural-political pragmatics that makes it possible simultaneous to be for more public support for cultural life (yes, thanks to the cultural promise and use it where neither the market nor the sponsors extend) og for other forms of financing, be it sponsorship, creative cultural cooperation with the business community, fund financing or more market for that matter. And the reason is actually artistic, I think it becomes more, more interesting and more relevant art with such a diversity of funding. If one of the effects were to happen to make Norwegian business more innovative, I can live with it and.

Anne-Britt Gran, associate professor of BI and member of the Norwegian Cultural Council's performing arts committee.

You may also like