Open-Ended Conversations: The Invisible Economies of the Arts

Open-Ended Conversations: The Invisible Economies of the Arts
Saturday, March 22, 2008, 9:38 am

Open-Ended Conversations: The Invisible Economies of the Arts

Date: Saturday, March 29, 2008 at 2 p.m.

Artists: Max Wyman, Glen Alteen, Kristen Wright and Bll Cowan

Open Space and Media Net hosted Open-Ended Conversations: The Invisible Economies of the Arts, a public conversation that looked at the crucial contributions made by the arts within our communities.

"For the past two decades the arts community has worked diligently to demonstrate its social, economic and educational “utility” and “impact.” As artists and arts administrators conscientiously compile measurable outcomes as part of their professional practice, they often realize that it’s only a part of the effect of arts programming. The value of the arts is elusive, often subtle and frequently doesn’t manifest itself immediately. Sometimes the effects of a single arts experience have effect years and sometimes decades later. How can we identify invisible economies, anonymous benefactors, under-reported contributions and labour, and other art practices that curator Cathi Charles Wherry has eloquently called “the economy of goodwill?”

Moderated by MediaNet Director Peter Sandmark and Open Space Director Helen Marzolf, The Invisible Economies of the arts invited public exchange with special guests:

  • Max Wyman, nationally acclaimed author of The Defiant Imagination, a frequently cited book that summarizes decades of evidence suggesting the arts are a public necessity.
  • Glenn Alteen, founder and executive director of grunt, a Vancouver artist-run centre, is an insightful arts administrator with firsthand experience of how the arts function within and outside orthodox economic models.
  • Kirsten Wright & Bill Cowan are co-proprietors of Gallery 16½ in Victoria. Their business participates in a micro-economy of exchange that embraces community involvement and programming.