We read in the press about corruption and we basically agree that it is a decay that must be eliminated. That stays there and we are satisfied that justice as relevant authority will deal with it; anyway our western world is based on the principles of justice, equality, inclusion, etc. If it is so, then, mystery has entered our life again after it was vanished through the rein of reason and the principles set by the Enlightenment in the 18th century. And mystery would somehow be attractive if it was a genuine spiritual action; unfortunately it is aligned with the power of money, legitimate money, that buy and sell people and their products. Reason and principles have no word in this trade. Look at the art market but even at the municipal policies about culture, here in advanced Netherlands.
The way of functioning of art centres falls under the category of legal corruption; this said without exaggeration nor by using a metaphor. If you have another description for an organization that is introduced as sole authority in this field in a city or a region (monopoly), receives exclusively state or municipal subsidy for a specific goal (that is to promote the arts locally mostly), but functions as a closed corporate company based on exclusion rather than inclusion and tripping-up the people that it is supposed to assist, I do want to hear it. Are the heads of these organisations, that use public funds, elected? Is he/she appointed for a specific time span, for example 3 plus 2 years? Are the members of the commissions elected; do they work on voluntary basis or are they paid for their services? Should actors of the corporate world (in this case the galleries) be allowed to participate in the commission that judges an artist’s capability to be acknowledged by the organisation? Can a municipality exclude artists from the decision board that draws policies about their profession and about the content of their practice? If artists are excluded who then decides about the art direction of the city? Who gives them this authority and why? Reminding once more: they are using public funds and they draw the artistic map of a city!
I had my personal experience with Stroom but since artists in The Hague prefer to sit back when a colleague is hit on the head than speak up for their rights (own rights too), after protesting at first, I just continued my way looking from a distance. In private talks colleagues expressed their concerns and disdain for the fact that they were threatened to be kicked out Stroom because they do not exhibit that often and even when they exhibit it is mostly in places not recognised by Stroom. After the shutting down of the Free Academy of Visual Arts in The Hague (that was planned already years ago but waited for the moment that no one would react anymore) and even further reading in the BBK krant (Union of Visual Artists newspaper) the clearly set article by Hans-Joachim Schroter with the title “NULCULTUUR” (zero culture) about the closing of the artists initiative “De Krabbendans”, I think that the artists of this country should seriously sit and think about what happened to them and how they have allowed the little grey people to saw the tree from under their nests. Maybe, after all, sitting comfortably and looking only inward serves a system that promotes the destruction of principles in favour of a net of positions, power and authority. This net gives the minimum (have no doubt about that) to some of its subjects and then feels free to “invest” on works of show-off or on specific people or groups that belong to its own inner circle. The subjects are happy with the crumbs, the inner circle thrives.
But one day the crumbs are taken away too; we are already (or finally) there.
P.S. 1 Pushing culture and its fighters to the corner is not an innocent decision nor an action of neglect
P.S. 2 Principles have been mocked and replaced by the awe to the successful individual which consequently buried any sense of solidarity. Now that the authority is withdrawing its crumbs(in legally non-democratic ways) who is going to stand for us, eternally poor fool artists.