Concrete action -event was organized by Kiasma_strike in conversation with the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma. It was a follow-up to Changing World and the Ethics of Funding organized at Kiasma Theatre which was attended by 260 individuals. Concrete action took place at Forum Box gallery and it was aimed for “art organizations and their teams, collectives, groups, and individual art practitioners who want to ensure that the private funding of art organizations is ethical and sustainable”. The three hour event brought together 38 individuals (45 registered). Attendees included art administrators, artists, representatives of art supporting foundations, gallerists, researchers, curators and producers. The day was facilitated by artist Tellervo Kalleinen and curator Giovanna Esposito Yussif.
The event was started by setting ground rules. It was agreed that opinions and ideas formulated during the day would be later on referred to in an anonymized manner, so that individuals could speak freely. The attendees were provided with a summary of the Kiasma Theatre events and tasked to express concerns which they felt like confronting. Questions of concern were written on papers and placed on the floor. The notes were then categorized by Kiasma_strike and Kiasma representatives. This produced four separate groups and attendees were invited to form a company around the questions which they felt most drawn to.
Separate groups proceeded to work with their material, formulating the array of concerns into a “Core question” and attempting to find practical solutions to it. Group work was complemented by a session where each party presented their process to others, who were advised to aid them in answering the core question by providing new information or questions which could help to clarify their inquiry. The groups used this input to expand on their process and to further work on potential solutions. At the end of the event groups gathered to share their findings in a final round of review and discussion.
The two large group discussions were documented by artist Jenna Jauhiainen and the materials which sub-groups produced has been transcribed from the original notes. Original materials are not included in this final document. This summary was sent to all event attendees for validification and comments. No changes were made through the feedback cycle. Please get in touch if you spot something drastically wrong or something you’d like to add. All comments on the procedures are appreciated.
Core question: “How to attach guidelines to operations when collaborating?”. The group responded to this with an idea that organizations should express their values and guidelines publicly, for example on their web pages. Frame Finland was referred to as a positive example.
In the feedback discussion the rest of the attendees commented that instead of aiming for clear guidelines, the organization should focus on a process of “constant monitoring“. There was also a question regarding who should take the practical responsibility for such a monitoring process and if the monitoring should be done by the institution. And if not then who would be doing it?
After the feedback round the group came up with concrete solutions. Firstly art organizations should have a funding coordinator in house who is specialized in ethical matters. In addition there should also be an external body (“a committee”) which would be responsible for evaluating processes. The premise, that for example museums should consult communities which it works with in ethical matters, is also expressed in International Council of Museums (ICOM) guidelines. The group highlighted the importance of agreements and contracts, approaching them as the foundation for organizational ethics. The group felt that organizations should welcome “productive conflicts”. Organizations should stay vigilant and constantly improve their actions. The process of making guidelines should be done by the institution themselves with help of outsiders, for example representatives of other fields. The group also pondered how this representative body should be formed, by vote or other means but did not have a clear solution for this.
Core question: “How to create more transparency and democracy in the institutions? What is the influence of private funding on art organizations? How to ensure it has no influence?” The group contemplated how to avoid succumbing to “self-censorship” and used Kiasma as their case study. As a practical solution they formulated an idea to establish an “Advisory Group for Kiasma”. The group reasoned that the Finnish National Gallery does not have adequate artist representations. The group expressed that artists are “marginalized” in the institution and are tasked “to produce the content but are not given positions”.
In the feedback discussion the group was informed that the Finnish National Gallery already has an artist representative appointed by the Finnish Artist Association in their council (Kansallisgallerian valtuuskunta). The governance of the Finnish National Gallery is overseen by this council appointed by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The council does not have any decision making power as such. In practice it adjourns periodically for briefings detailing museum affairs. It was suggested that this arrangement could be developed further. It was mentioned that a process of continued monitoring of the independent supporters of the art organization would demand a lot of resources. Efforts to make the monitoring process itself “transparent” would be difficult too as it would be hard to determine what constitutes as independent or transparent. An idea was expressed that private supporters should be sent a chart or a questionnaire, which answers to their reputability.
After the feedback round the group further developed their idea reiterating that an “ethical advisory group” should be formed to help Finnish art organizations and that it should include “students, interdisciplinary researchers, randoms and artists”. This group would be responsible for setting “non-discriminatory action” policies. The group did not succeed in developing ideas on how to monitor the reputability of private funders.
Core Question: “How to critically evaluate the exchange between the funder and the funded institution?”. As a solution the group suggested that organizations which are seeking private funding should first set their own ethical rules. It was stressed that it is not enough to have ethical rules, they must be made a part of the organization. After the organization receives support it must work to maintain its integrity in its relationship to funders. This can be achieved by making sure that the funder follows or is made aware of the guidelines the organization has. The organization should have an underlying right to “criticize” its funders. The group highlighted that there should always be a method to exclude a funder if something in the relationship goes wrong. Ethical guidelines should be approached as a foundation for relationships.
After the feedback round the group headed towards a “less concrete direction” discussing the general atmosphere regarding the ethics of culture funding, and expressed that in their view the topic is not discussed “as seriously as it should be”. The group emphasized that parties from outside the institution should be included in ethical evaluations. People in organizations who are responsible for funding matters should engage in an honest evaluation concerning the nature of exchange. What other than money is being transferred in a relationship: “What is given and gained”. Responsible parties should make a checklist of the things gained and lost in a funding relationship.
Asked “How can we assess in legal or in accordance to our own ethical standards, the reputability of our partners?” and came up with a list of practical ideas: To follow law and administrative instructions, to “google” and use public resources and informal “word of mouth and peer support”. The group also discussed the assessment process, recommending that policies are constantly updated and that people assume responsibility for their decisions. The group summarized that “We should trust, take risks and test” different collaboration schemes.
In the feedback discussion the group was asked to define who in an organisation should be designated as a “responsible body”. It was also asked what should happen in case a partner or funder is revealed as promatic. There should also be processes to cancel a partnership if something alarming is revealed. Also the question of “reparations” was opened, and that ending a contract with a partner is not enough because potential harm inflicted during the partnership should be restored before moving on. It was also mentioned that perhaps the partner would benefit from this critique too, as it would help them to improve their actions. Yet some conduct, such human rights violations should not be acceptable under any conditions. It was suggested that organizations look at how corporations evaluate human rights issues. Relying solely in self-monitoring is risky, because for example certificates corporations make for themselves don’t add up to anything. Turning to outside researchers was suggested.
After the feedback the group revealed that they came to the conclusion that assessing the reputability of partners is difficult and won't always succeed. As a closing summary the group presented: “Trust is fragile. We take risks and accountability for failure. To navigate we first set a public criteria, which is audited by a larger community of parties also outside of the institution”. The group had discussed whether a “general ethical committee for private support of arts” should be formed but had concluded that it could conflict with freedom of expression in arts. The group expressed that a public auditing process of ethical guidelines could have a more positive impact.
A recently published Forum Artis ethical guidelines were brought up and it was debated if these guidelines could be further developed to include terms on the ethics of funding. The Finnish Art Association was referred to as an organization which could take on the responsibility for assembling an artist body which would help institutions in their ethical evaluation processes. When the Forum Artis guidelines were drafted, they had contemplated a “Council for Mass Media in Finland (Julkisen sanan neuvosto)” -type committee, for the assessment of ethical concerns but had not proceeded with the idea due to concerns about its negative impact on freedom of expression. “Sociocratic method” was referred to as a potential tool for collective decision making processes and the motto “good enough now, safe enough to try” was voiced as a route forwards.
Helmikuussa 2023 Nykytaiteen museo Kiasmassa järjestettyyn Muuttuva maailma ja rahoituksen etiikka -seminaariin osallistui 260 henkeä. Tilaisuus järjestettiin yhteistyössä Kiasma_striken sekä Kiasman kanssa ja se avasi julkisen keskustelu yksityisen rahoituksen suuntaviivoista. Kohti konkretiaa on jatkotilaisuus jossa taiteen ammattilaiset ja organisaatioiden edustajat voivat syventää keskustelua ja edetä hyvistä aikeista käytännöllisiin tekoihin. Tilaisuus toimii alustana näkökulmien jakamiseen.
Julkisen rahoituksen huvetessa taidelaitokset kohtaavat kasvavaa painetta yksityiseen varainhankintaan. Samaan aikaan taidelaitoksiin kohdistuu painetta toimia sosiaalisesti vastuullisesti. Nämä virtaukset ovat tuottaneet tarpeen taidelaitosten toimintaetiikan tarkasteluun. Kiasman työnseisauksen myötä useiden taideorganisaatioiden edustajat ovat osoittaneet halukkuutta syventävien keskustelujen käymiseen. Kohti konkretiaa vastaa tähän tarpeeseen rakentavalla ja tavoitteellisella otteella. Tapahtuma haastaa taidekenttää päivittämään – ja joissakin tapauksissa artikuloimaan alusta saakka – selkeät periaatteet ja läpinäkyvät käytännöt yksityisen rahoituksen vastaanottamista varten.
Tilaisuuden jälkeen osallistujilla on laajempi ymmärrys siitä kuinka jatkaa prosessia ja tehdä päätöksiä eettisten linjausten sekä käytäntöjen vakiinnuttamiseksi omissa organisaatioissaan.
Kohti konkretiaa on Kiasma_striken organisoima ja se toteutetaan dialogissa nykytaiteen museo Kiasman kanssa. Se on tarkoitettu kaikille organisaatioille sekä henkilöstölle, työryhmille, taiteilijaporukoille sekä yksittäisille taiteen ammattilaisille, jotka pyrkivät takaamaan että heidän toimensa yksityisen rahoituksen suhteen on eettisellä ja kestävällä pohjalla. Tilaisuuden ohjaa taiteilija Tellervo Kalleinen ja kuraattori Giovanna Esposito Yussif.
Aiemman seminaarin tallenteen katsominen ennen tilaisuutta on suositeltavaa. Lisäksi seminaarimuistiinpanoista löytyy tiivistelmä sisällöistä. Tallenne sisältää puheenvuorot Kiasman ja Kiasma_striken yhdessä järjestämästä Muuttuva maailma ja rahoituksen etiikka -seminaarista.
Tilaisuus on englanniksi.
Paikka: Forum Box, Ruoholahdenranta 3 A Helsinki