ArtsEverywhere is a platform for artistic experimentation and exploration of the fault lines of modern society. It creates open spaces for dialogue about the value that the arts bring to all aspects of our communities and societies—not only from the points of view of artists, cultural workers, and arts institutions, but also globally from the perspectives of policy makers, ecologists, children, city builders, social justice leaders, farmers, educators, and activists.
ArtsEverywhere believes that the arts must be a central component of individual and collective experiences of the world and a vital part of all social and political processes, including governance, justice, activism, economies, and education. The lines of inquiry that form the backbone of the online platform include Alternative Learning, Decolonization and New Colonialisms, Economic Dignity, Feminisms and Queerness, Language and Migration and Artist Rights.
Demagogues, corrupt elections, violent conflict, natural disasters, forced displacement, mass surveillance, billionaires and brown face: 2019 provided an unhealthy dose of this and more. Callous, divisive words spoken by hateful, cartoonish bullies, and adopted by the indiscriminate and beleaguered: in Brazil, India, China, the US, the UK, Russia, and seemingly everywhere else, sycophantic populism hit fever fitch. In the new normal, the compromise has been our peace of mind, a faltering understanding of what the future might look like, and grave confusion around how to move forward purposefully. And compassion fatigue—the newest catch phrase in a litany of jumbled neoliberal navel-gazing jibber jabber, manifest in a multi-trillion dollar industry of mindfulness and self-care. It’s the perfect excuse to tune out and divest fully from everything but the individual.
In the midst of the overload, there’s the art world, an industry mostly controlled and arbitrated by the wealthy elite, with zero interest in, or attention to vast marginal demographic and geographic swaths of the planet. Increasingly we see artists calling for the censorship of their peers on the basis of presumed ownership over a spectrum of threadbare identity politics, while capitalizing fully on the disenfranchisement of billions. It’s maddening.
The fault lines are now the roadmap of societies and ecologies under extreme duress. But as news cycles churn like white water cascades and the median human attention span dwindles to nanoseconds, so many important stories fall into the obscurity of the widening margins. It becomes hard to remember or reimagine how art might be more than decoration, a leisure item or entertainment, concentrated in urban centres and inaccessible institutions. It is here in the rapids that ArtsEverywhere locates itself.