Thriving in Uncertainty


As the growth economy feeds on relentless expansion and promises the continuous availability of everything from strawberries to digital servants, the unremitting pace of contemporary lifestyles at the messy tail-end of global capitalism seems inevitable. It infects the way we deal with time; it affects our sense of values, ethics and purpose. The implacable pressure to produce, consume and communicate has lead to a work ethic where everything that is “not work” is viewed as an inactive, indulgent luxury. The cultural sector is by no means immune to this malaise. In contrast to the popular belief that artists enjoy fame, luxury and bohemian lifestyles (or are otherwise lazing around in obscurity at taxpayers’ expense), the cultural sector is also riddled with stress-related illnesses such as burn-out, depression, chronic pain (physical or mental), and other disorders. Yet the field of the arts — inasmuch as it is defined by the creative process at its core— could be the most natural starting point for finding alternatives to an unsustainable status quo. Changing societal worldviews cannot be achieved by treating them as themes in artistic works alone. They must become a part of our practice. How can artists and arts organisations develop alternative models and worldviews, not just by what we do, but how we do it?