A radical change in politics is here. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposals for a truer democracy, more stringent accountability and a socio-progressive standard in government is only the beginning. Those of us in the arts must likewise find solutions that will secure our cultural heritage and allow it to be shared not only among the entitled and the privileged but equally for and equitably by everyone. Tax-free institutions like museums, universities and arts councils will not be free from responsibility simply on account of their seeming long-enjoyed “liberal” status on blanket social attitudes while ignoring current real-life critical issues such as pay equity, union-busting, financial accountability, contributing to the culturally devastating effects of gentrification in collusion with property developers, their investments in the pharmaceutical, oil, and arms manufacturing industries, management and board representation by the millionaire and billionaire class and collusion with moneyed interests in laundering their wealth to avoid paying taxes.
Recently rolled-out announcements such as short-term token improvements towards “a greater inclusivity” of select representation of artists with regard to blanket gender and racial profiles (that should have been standard policy decades before this) do not substitute for more effective policy-making decisions IN ACTIVE PARTICIPATION WITH those same groups and the general public alike.
These are PUBLIC institutions built TO SERVE THE PUBLIC. They are not semi-private organizations with the discretion and privilege of defining cultural values only if and when it is convenient or profitable for them to do so.
Artists do not serve the institution. The public does not serve the institution. LIKE GOVERNMENT, THE INSTITUTION SERVES YOU. It’s time to hold them accountable or take away their pass.
Opinion: A Radical Change 02/2019