Posted on 14 December 2010
I think the art students that protested at the Tate probably do want to be part of the jamboree. I think that is the point.
It was about supporting the established system of arts education, galleries, museums and funded cultural activity in the UK which is under such a severe threat. It wasn't about being anti-establishment.
They don't want the arts as a whole, and art education specifically, to be decimated to the point where there is no career trajectory for them to aspire to, or more importantly those that will follow them
Or for that matter for the initial entry to that trajectory to be entirely based on the ability to pay astronomical fees. It is highly unlikely an arts graduate will ever be a high-earner.
You have to remember that the students that are demonstrating are already at art school, are already saddled with huge debts but don't want their successors having to cope with three times that burden.
They also feel passionate about the arts in general, and that for me was what was specific about the Tate protest.
They wanted to make a noise about it, and so they took it to the place where they knew people would be listening. And they were, on the Channel 4 News to be precise. And in the Tate itself.
It was notable to me that whilst those at the Turner Prize paid lip service to supporting the protest, none of them actually put down their champagne and joined the students prior to the prize giving, but afterwards Nicholas Serota and Angalika Sagar (The Otolith Group) went out to speak to the protesters.
I thought the protest was excellent and congratulate those that organised it. It used the media, Twitter, You Tube to get a message across.
I believe that effective protests need to use the language of the people that you want to listen, otherwise the door is closed too quickly.