Rant 84: Art care cash

Rant 84: Art care cash Dominic Mason, Ashfield Arrangement , 2012

Artists working in the public realm are faced with so many challenges. Projects can be restricted by the amount of money available not to mention the needs of the people involved. If art is a service then who is it serving? Rhiannon Evans grapples with these problems in our latest Rant.

I’m uncertain and undecided. My emerging practice leans towards social engagement and I am drawn to working within the care system. I’m uneasy though about how the source of funding for art made in day services, hospitals and residential care affects what is made.

Reconciling the balance between my own artistic autonomy and the needs of others in a therapeutic setting is a challenge at the best of times. When I consider who has made the decisions about the budget, what they want it to do and how, I feel uneasy.

That art has therapeutic value is well accepted. Projects can increase awareness of others, create empathy, break down barriers and challenge stereotypes. In care settings my artistic input is often funded indirectly as part of a care package, so what exactly is my role then?

The art is a service in this case, but who am I serving? Is it the funding providers, or the client group?

Often paying for the artist’s time is not a priority of the funding providers. The funding available doesn’t allow time to develop empathic and honest relationships between all those involved, and issues of ‘whose work is it anyway?’ and ‘who is the work for?’ can become confused, unless there is time to chew it over. Materials to make something large and highly visible are more likely to be paid for.

At the moment personalised budgets for care are being introduced by local authorities. This means people can choose the aspects of care they like, which means that vulnerable groups could become direct financial patrons of the artistic process.

They will be able to choose the type of art project they really would like to do which might ease my confusion and result in some exciting art!

A longer version of this article was written in response to ART vs REHAB, a critical catalyst for those working creatively in addiction, homelessness, criminal justice and mental health.

Contributed by Rhiannon Evans
Rhiannon is an artist based in Oxfordshire. Her work investigates memorialization, measurement and re-enactment of experiences. 


The views expressed in The Rant are those of Rhiannon Evans and forum contributors and unless specifically stated are not those of Axisweb. See our terms and conditions


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