I regret not attending its inaugural IF: Imagined Futures conference, but THE Magazine's review by Kathryn Davis (June issue, p.48) was discouraging. ---
Now that the ball is rolling, CrSF soon presents a lecture and workshop on July 21 titled "Santa Fe/Ground Up" (it's not about coffee) by artist, designer and UC Berkeley professor Walter Hood, Jr. who discusses "public art, site-specific art, land art and the re-purposing or multi-purposing of infrastructure to support a creative economy." I still think CrSF has promising solutions for the creative economic problems Santa Fe faces, so I am attending this one. ---
After its false start as a city-funded project, CrSF "re-created" itself as an autonomous nonprofit whose mission includes "… several established and ongoing initiatives that invigorate Santa Fe's artistic and cultural scene to the growth and vitality of the region's creative economy." Though I seek not to target CrSF or make a project out of it, the growing presence of IF in the media has compelled me to maintain a watchful eye on its "evolution."
Socioeconomically, CrSF's rhetoric is similar to Occupy's by promoting the concept of the cultural worker: individuals who create cultural products (i.e. the arts), which are consumed by the public. The current dominant paradigm requires creating something, competing for funding and a venue and hoping people with money to spend on luxuries buy it. Right now, too many are working too hard for too little to provide for Santa Fe's artistic needs. While CrSF's pledges to "support affordable workspaces for artists and performers in Santa Fe," the overused marketing term affordable is relative. For many of us, free is affordable.
My concern is that CrSF may slip into becoming another nonprofit top-heavy with highly paid administrators who put on costly conferences for affluent patrons while those of the artistic socioeconomic substrata languish on the outside. Davis' review of Evolve or Die? seems to indicate that it could go that route. What is needed is enfranchisement on as many levels as possible. This might be done with a cultural "New Deal" for Santa Fe, which employs multitudes of local artists to create public art (visual, musical, theatrical, etc.) with a horizontal decision-making structure. This would empower Santa Fe cultural workers to cooperate, not compete. CrSF will truly provide a valuable service if it can help recreate how economics relates to creativity while avoiding a class orientation. Here's hoping that Hood will deliver on some real solutions "on the ground."