Where does culture happen? – diversity, conflict, and complexity

We have seen that ‘difference’ whether through economic, social class, race, gender or sexuality continues to prevail as major barriers to bridging gaps in privilege and access to resources within the cultural sector.

The visual arts within galleries do not often present clear and immediate relevance or connection to many young people. As well as this, further work is required for historic, modern and contemporary art, and artists, to play a more visible meaningful role in the wider social, political, and cultural landscape.

Circuit set out to understand what changes and challenges have taken place, as well as to make clear what barriers still exist, and provide recommendations for actions that address ‘what next?’.

The future and audiences

Just as art and artists are connected to a multitude of places, media and emotions we experience every day, visual arts spaces need to reconnect to wider cultural experiences. New generations of artists and audiences now want more than a static view of culture via the repository model of museum and galleries. Young audiences are moving towards a more experiential, networked journey that evokes an evolving space with multiple functions within the art museum. In the same way that public spaces function, we could view the gallery as a city, and our audience as its inhabitants who use, participate and contribute to it, as well as enable it to function.

The gallery as a socially intelligent space that accepts and responds to the complexity of shifting global, regional, local and personal communities.

Hollie Profit, Pixel Skate Celebration March © Pixel 2016

The idea of considering ‘where culture happens’ proposes that we start to see galleries as evolving, adaptable, responsive spaces that embrace the hyper-complexity of networked, visual and information consumption.

Culture happens online, in the street, in bedrooms, and social spaces. We could use these forms of culture as catalysts that merge and/or positively disrupt the understood hierarchies, models, processes and expectations of gallery experience.

We could begin to consider the gallery as an active changing part of our culturally diverse lives and communities, but not as repositories of culture. The repository will continue to exist and will be extended, but it should be responsive to ‘where culture happens’, where it emerges and clashes.

When we discuss ‘culture’ it almost becomes a myth within itself – how do you hold it, rationalise it or visualise it, without definition by objects?  If galleries shift to a place where culture could emerge, materialize, or is changeable and contributed to, then perhaps it’s connection to the present, it’s communities, and it’s relevance would become more transparent.

L@T April 2015 Circuit Artist collaboration cDan Weill

The current broadcasting potential provided to many via digital and online, has enabled young people to use physical and virtual experiences of art in a much more networked and interconnected manner, rather than have singular, segregated, or insular relationships.

This approach shifts the disconnected position of art spaces and art experiences to provide a more interdisciplinary, social and experiential model. This could be viewed as honouring the conflicting spaces of hyper-complexity to decentralised modes of creation and exchange.

It must also be understood that digital does not equal young people – that then equals new world and new museum. Digital is part of the interdisciplinary, which maintains a complex, sometimes positively conflicting relationship across URL and IRL.

Essentially, we must rethink the democratisation of culture via institutions, to a wider cultural democracy in which the give and take of knowledge, skills and ownership across different communities, including young people becomes the new form of production itself.

Live glitch cinema, Firstsite Gallery, 2016

Young People’s Programmes at Tate Modern and Tate Britain

At Tate we will work towards diversifying the work force, therefore realizing a diverse programme, and building diverse audiences. We will continue to build on the success of a programme that provides social, experiential and interdisciplinary practices.

With the current lack of provision, progression routes and pathways into careers across the cultural sector, we intend to bring some formality to informal learning. This will enable clarity of skills gained, as well as where and how these skills can be used. Additionally, we will continue to demystify and expose institution structures, barriers, access to governance, pathways, so that young people are able to navigate and understand the potential and existing opportunities across the creative and cultural sector.

Key to the future of this practice and institutional change is enabling young people to remain critical, questioning and responsive to wider social, cultural and political shifts in their future careers, interests and spaces they occupy. With this, a more reciprocal and equitable relationship, across programme and budgets, with youth sector organisations, further and higher education organisation and broadcast/media platforms.

Opening of the new Tate Modern, 2016

We will continue to work with young people as cultural producers in galleries, utilising modes of interaction, exchange and contribution, which consider removal of a ‘centre’ to a diverse and changeable core. Additionally, we could move towards re-aligning art with the buoyancy of currently hyperlinked information and visual consumption.

At the core, we aim to understand and embrace the current complexity between networks, digital platforms, subcultures, dominant culture, zeitgeist, and big data context. With this, we will create a diverse artistic programme that represents society and offers participation and contribution from diverse participants and communities.