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Another important point David Gauntlett makes concerns the democratisation of art.

Make it yourself/ourselves

He sees our choices of media, art and culture up until now limited to either the mass market channels (TV, newspapers,magazines) OR,  more distinctive but elite ones (such as the artworld’s system of ‘star’ artists and international galleries).

But now, in the ‘middle ground’ between mass populist culture on one hand and exclusive elitism on the other,the ‘make it yourself’ ethic is emerging as a viable alternative with its own products such as YouTube videos, photo sites, craft fairs, guerilla gardening and interventions, eco-art, etc.

Previously, to get your work out in the world, you had to be an artist where ‘having the right education, sponsors and jargon are necessary markers of worthiness’.  Galleries, art and literary societies, publishing companies etc., all have their own gatekeepers. Creative people without the right credentials were/are denied the channels for sharing their work.

But now, anyone can get their work out there without worrying if the credentials are worthy. Regarding the internet:

The relevant filters now operate after, not before publication. (Clay Shirky)

Continued in next post.

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continued from previous post

Joie de faire

A significant part of the joy of craft and online creativity is that it does not rely on hierarchies of experts and elites to be validated and doesn’t depend on editors or gatekeepers for its circulation.

Craft is more about creativity and the process of making at a grass-roots level and not caring so much about star status, commercial returns or validation by the established art world. There is an inherent joy at creating something and then sharing it within a community or group with similar interests. Gauntlett speaks about the need to keep the web a free platform and defend it against being turned into one more instrument for consumerism. It needs to be a bit messy, chaotic, and personal to keep the creative element alive.

And of course the web isn’t everything…people create their own networks and experiences around the process of making things because they like to see and share the whole fruits of their own creativity and to feel connected to other inventive people, and to feel part of meaningful productive social processes which have continuity. This urge appears to be timeless and enduring…

He concludes with:

Making things shows that we are powerful creative agents- people who can really do things, things that other people can see, learn from and enjoy. Making things transforms materials but also one’s sense of self. Creativity is a gift in the sense that it a way of sharing meaningful things, ideas or wisdom, which form bridges between people and communities.

Having read and studied this book, I am armed with yet more arguments for why creativity is so vital to a healthy society as well as happy, purpose-filled individuals. And though the massive subsidy cuts and other hostile actions against the arts (tripling art sales taxes) here in Holland will do some damage, I am less worried by them than I was. With the widespread emergence of a sense of craft as important to our well being, and a renewed appreciation for things made well by hand, I feel that in the coming years there will be a lot of healing and amazing positive developments in creative areas.

Artists have a key role to play in this new scene, to not only do ethically sound, relevant, and socially engaged work, but to open other people to their creative potential.

I trust that then, the questions of livelihood will start to resolve. But it will take a while before the society and the systems change sufficiently to allow that to happen. At least we have a better idea of what we could be moving toward.