Eric Weitz’s Keynote speech from An Artist’s Vision for Ireland National Symposium panel discussion:
Eric: In my Artistic Vision for Ireland we have somehow unplugged ourselves from the free-market Matrix, with itsfalse objectivities and Darwinian cruelties,power-washed into every corner of our lives by privately owned media. We will at the same time have sand-blasted the social bedrock to have another go at upholdingan equal regard and pre-emptive dignity of every living creature.
This Artist’s Vision rejects the corporate Theory of Everything, which carries out processes in funding and hiring and tendering on the same corporate template, even though the very nature of what we do makes it all but irrelevant and often counterproductive. Our models should embody our own practices.A bravelydecent society seeks ways to accommodate more expression in more ways because it’s importantfor the well being of its public body and the individual inhabitants that comprise it, keepingminds and feelings active, encouraging them to question what they think they know so well or haven’t yet contemplated, challenging them in unforeseen ways and from the perspectives of others. It also remakes the artist’s place in daily life so it is seen for what it should be: right in the midst of it, as much a part of our daily activity as walking into a shop. Not highbrow by definition. Not exclusionary in its cost. It’s there all around us because it helps us live better.
This Artist’s Vision would adopt a model based on creativity, not competition, based on the natural rhythms of what we do: the ebb and flow and back and forth of creative endeavor, itscycles of making, unmaking and remaking, a discarding and discovering that abhors simplistic, crowd controlling binaries like success and failure.
In myArtist’s Vision, being an artist is an important job. It’s an important job, not just because people want to take selfies with you, but because you give them a sense of what their life is like, what other lives are like, what other lives were and will be like, might be like, could be like. You give them experience, ideas, feelings they cannot or would not or even should not get in the real world. An Artists Vision might return to the basic imprint we carry as children, and, in fact, as animals. And that is to play. For release. For bonding. For expression of our innermost joys, fears and challenges, individually and as social beings. For collective exploration of what it is to be human, a human, and a human other than oneself – that last one having no place on the corporate mind map. A creative approach would embody Deirdre’s exhortation about our need to help create our artists in ways the corporate model cannot fathom.
‘Well, you have to be realistic’, someone sensible will say.No we don’t. That’s what creative means. Unlike business’s latest beloved word, ‘innovation’, which includes by inference an estimate of Return on Investment… We don’t have to be realistic. We have to be responsible. And we are. Let me put it this way. I defy any government information-seeking body to compare the integrity of arts organizations and their book-keeping over the past twenty years with that of our illustrious banking institutions and political leaders.I defy any government information-seeking body to compare the social altruism of the top bankers and businesses we’re afraid will leave the country against those young artists who leave us in droves because the prospects for society’s support are routinely so sparse and grudging.
What is clear is that if by some chance we are not the stupidest species on the planet, something has to change – something deep in the root system of our so-called common sense. And so an Artist’s Vision is important not only for the artists ourselves, but for the best hopes of our culture and our world as infinitely complex wholes.
Artists are not our only hope – I know quite well there are people in all areas of our society who would aspire to this kind of change as much as I do, some of them from within the business community and corridors of power. We are not society’s only hope – but I think we are the likeliest leaders.