The DemArt project aims to democratise art funding by developing an innovative, replicable participatory process for municipalities to enable community members to award commissions to selected artists. The proposed method empowers citizens to commission artworks that respond to local priorities, explore untold stories and celebrate diverse perspectives, identities and experiences.
Art commissioning, as we know it now, certainly needs reimagining. The popular perception of art commissioning is that it is expensive, thus reserved for wealthy, privileged individuals, corporations, government departments, and local authorities. This perceived exclusivity perpetuates the notion that regular people have no power over what works of art receive the necessary funding to come into existence. Consequently, citizens often don’t feel they have control over who gets represented in culture, what problems are discussed and addressed, and which stories are deemed worth telling.
DemArt aims to address the excluding mechanisms existing in the cultural field that prevent the participation of certain social groups who feel unrepresented. The project advocates for tolerance for and appreciation of cultural diversity while recognising that representation itself is not enough. DemArt doesn’t want to reduce the role of the community to a passive mass exposed to cultural products and services, instead, it aims to put community members firmly in control of shaping their own cultural identity.
When it comes to changing attitudes, we must focus on the next generation, as young people are the future. DemArt invites people from all walks of life and perspectives representing the diversity of their neighborhood to become Art Commissioners.
In the frame of the DemArt, Art Commissioners are responsible for the entire art commissioning process:
address through the art commissioning process.
DemArt aims to challenge long-held views of artists as isolated geniuses and shift public perception to recognise artists as community allies and agents for social change. The socially engaged creators selected by the Art Commissioners will get the chance to build relationships with local communities and give a voice to society’s disenfranchised. This, in turn, can influence community members’ attitudes towards art and artists. Community members might care more about arts and support artists if they perceive art as a force of social change with the power to positively influence their everyday lives.
We believe that by developing a replicable participatory process for municipalities to involve citizens in cultural decision-making and art commissioning, the project will enhance the capacity of European cultural and creative sectors to innovate new, more accessible, inclusive and transparent ways of cultural funding.
DemArt and IICCA is funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.