Sustain 23/10/08 minutes

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Go to the Sustainability project page

Present: Neil, Trevor, Cinzia, Michael, Tim and David.

Minutes: Cinzia

After going over the discussion at the last meeting, we resume ...

David is interested in exploring the concept of Sustainability from an academic point of view. Cinzia is more inclined to test some ideas in practice. After discussing some examples of entities (mostly art galleries) that have been able to sustain their activities in different ways, we decide that we would like to organise a series of seminars to explore some case studies to map a series of possible economies. Frieze, Matt's Gallery, Lisson Gallery, Area 10, Bow Arts Trust, and Redux Arts are mentioned.
We discuss the difference between subsidised and sustainable, without coming to any conclusion. We appear to lack a precise enough definition of what we mean by Sustainability. We decide to try and limit our enquiry to strategies of Sustainability of creativity, touching on related issues/applications.
We discuss our focus and motivations for this project - We want to explore how CP functions. Conventional ways of looking at the relation between energy and money are not valid for CP. More money would not make CP more sustainable. Money cancels debts and obligations. We discuss 'paying' (with) attention. Tim quotes (I can't remember the name ...) 'In order to make art, one needs to be in a state of leisurely exhilarated concentration.' This creates a very different economy. Corporations are also trying to foster this kind of state in their employees, because money is not enough to make them work 'for' the company.
We are not thinking in terms of either/or, but of hybrid economies where these ideas are in motion.
Neil: What would happen if we had a large amount of money? Let's start Drafting a proposal to ask for a large budget to work on these issues and see what happens.
Trevor: Let's plan activities with no negative impact, considering Sustainability in relation to each person involved. For example: for every artwork I produce, I shall dedicate time and attention to two artworks by someone else! We will try and re-balance negative impact. Considerations might include
- How many will benefit
- What else am I not investing in.
In Neil's words, we are looking at ways to sustain an 'impact current and profound' and test the limits of the concept of sustainability in relation to creativity. We think we will engage in a series of workshops to activate this research, where we invite cultural operators to discuss their strategies; and, perhaps, conference(s) or other ways to distribute/apply the knowledge we acquire. Perhaps a 3 year program?
Is there an element of Fascism in the regulation and enforcement of sustaining strategies e.g. being financially coerced to dispose of waste in a certain way?
We engage in a heated discussion about self-organization and management of resources; local and global considerations; traditional practices of Sustainability of natural resources; 'scales of economy' ... and we land on Trevor's idea of multiple sustainabilities, based on individual sense of Sustainability as understanding your agency, your impact and contribution.
David points out that the creative industries have not come under this kind of scrutiny, as they have been considered on the basis of the immaterial. If creativity is infinite, it does not function on scarcity ... but it burns out individuals in the process. How can we make a cross-benefit analysis?
We return to the question of pitching this proposal ... to whom? We have in mind:

  • Green Peace
  • Esso
  • Google
  • Public Funding Institutions

We think that applying to all of them would be quite an interesting statement!


  • We will start drafting a pitch on line. A4, possibly opening with 'It is common practice to think of Sustainability in relation to energy or recycling, but the concept goes well beyond this.'
  • We will meet again at 5 pm, on 30 October at Rich Mix to work on the draft together.

Go to the Sustainability project page