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System Failure: Six conversations to reboot the art world


The art world is a large, complex and interdependent system: individual freelancers, institutions, artist-led groups, national funders and students must all grapple with financial pressures, unclear career progression, low status and increasing pressure from Government.

Without artists the art world could not exist – but they often endure a highly precarious working environment, modest pay, exploitative opportunities and an impossible work/life balance. Artists are evicted from studios and temporary galleries in newly desirable urban areas to enable gentrification, with our cities becoming increasingly expensive and unaffordable. Organisations retain the bulk of their public funding but reduce artist fees as philanthropic income, officially encouraged to replace falling Government funds, fails to materialise. Art education inadequately prepares graduates for the evolving work environment that they will enter, with financial and business skills denigrated but increasingly vital for freelance careers.  And irregular income makes planning or starting a family challenging for a majority of artists.

Six stimulating and provocative conversations between art world professionals, including artists, curators, consultants, gallery directors, academics and researchers will explore core problems in the structure of the art world, and seek to address its contemporary system failure. As well as diagnosing the problems, these conversations aim to suggest alternative ways that the art world might function, in order to improve the status and earning power of visual artists. The events also ask: what are the responsibilities that artists themselves have in how they take part in the art world? The art world system includes artists, and collective action needs to be encouraged to make change.

Join the conversation on Twitter using #aqsystemfailure and for updates and resources on the subjects.

 

1. The funding problem: or, a better way to distribute public funding

Wednesday 4 November, 6-8pm
Venue: Block 336, 336 Brixton Road, London SW9 7AA
Tickets £7, online booking open

With John Kieffer (writer and cultural critic) and Gilane Tawadros (Chief Executive of DACS)

More information on The Funding Problem and speaker biographies.

 

 

2. The city problem: or, how artists can benefit from urban regeneration

Wednesday 11 November, 6-8pm
Venue: Block 336, 336 Brixton Road, London SW9 7AA
Tickets £7, online booking open

With Duncan Smith (director ACAVA studios and the National Federation of Artist Studio Providers) and Kirsten Dunne (Senior Cultural Strategy Officer at the Greater London Authority).

More information on The City Problem and speaker biographies.

 

 

3. The money problem: or, how artists could be paid more than £10,000 a year

Wednesday 18 November, 6-8pm
Venue: Block 336, 336 Brixton Road, London SW9 7AA
Tickets £7, online booking open

With Mark Gubb (artist and regional advicate for the Paying Artists campaign) and Angela Kennedy (artist, founding member of Artists Union England)

More information on The Money Problem and speaker biographies.

This talk is programmed in partnership with a-n the artists information company.

 

 

4. The family problem: or, how the art world should work for artists with children

Saturday 28 November, 2-4pm
Venue: Block 336, 336 Brixton Road, London SW9 7AA
Tickets £7, online booking open

With Ellie Rees (artist) and Lucy Newman Cleeve (Director of Man&Eve Projects)

More information on The Family Problem and speaker biographies.

 

 

 

5. The education problem: or, how art schools could encourage more diverse ways to be an artist

Wednesday 2 December, 6-8pm
Venue: Block 336, 336 Brixton Road, London SW9 7AA
Tickets £7, online booking open

With Soraya Rodriguez (Diploma Leader at Central St Martins for the BA Fine Art Diploma in Professional Studies) and Doug Fishbone (artist and educator).

More information on The Education Problem and speaker biographies.

 

 

6. The gallery problem: or, what artists can do when their work doesn’t fit in galleries

Saturday 12 December, 2-4pm
Venue: Block 336, 336 Brixton Road, London SW9 7AA
Tickets £7, online booking open

With Kirsty Ogg ­(Director of New Contemporaries) and Marijke Steedman (Curator at Create London).

More information on The Gallery Problem and speaker biographies.

This talk is programmed in partnership with Axisweb, and responds to their Validation beyond the gallery report.

 

System Failure events take place at Block 336, an artist-run project space and studios founded in October 2011. Located in Brixton, Block 336 hosts one of the largest, non-institutional and architecturally unique spaces in London. The organisation aims to promote engagement and critical discussion of contemporary art, with an emphasis on collaboration and cross-practice dialogue.