Sunday, July 23, 2006

Arts Policies with ideological/political goals (Where do Arts Policies come from, Part 2)

Continuing with the subject of Where do Arts Policies come from, I am convinced that the first and main motivation to create Arts policies is to respond to political and/or ideological interests. No doubt in my mind. Where I have a doubt is in whether these interests are transparent, or if they are only a matter of keeping an image.
In the first class of my Issues of Cultural Policy at Columbia University, taguth by Dr. Ruth Bereson (now director of the program in Arts Management at the University at Buffalo), she read us a series on statements from different countries. The task was to try to id where each came from. The goal was to understand the natureof these statements, many times connected with the social, political, and economic times (and places), and many times the complete opposite. What is common, and was evident by reading the statements out of their context, is that they have a heavy ideological and political load: Their promise is to strengthen and protect national identities.

My final essay for the course questions the frank-ness of many of these policies. A lot of them were created to favor the public image of the ruling party (locally, but also abroad), but I doubt that, in most cases, the creators of such policies are prepared (intellectually and animically) to implement such rules.

Charles de Gaulle, Colombey, 1954 One example: in 1961 Andre Malraux, the first Miniter of CUlture of France, opened the first of many Houses of Culture, with the idea of de-centralize the administration and promotion of the French culture. The success or failure of this policy has been subject of many debate, which are not relevant here. In 1970, 9 years later, the first House of Culture opens in Guatemala. My argument (perhaps a bit cynical): The replication of this policy only pretends to give the impression that Guatemala was "moving forward", just because they were following european models. To date, the Houses of Culture in Guatemala remain without a clear mission or overall goal, without a frank reason d'etre. What is clear in my mind is that some politician's (or bureaucrat's) resume includes his/her participation in the drafting of the decree for the creation of one of all of the Guatemalan Houses of Culture.

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