September 9, 2016
A Hot Summer. Between Public and Private
One thing is for certain, the thin line between public and private becomes more fragile as time passes by. Otherwise, how could you memorize and analyze using the correct language something from the past? Things weren’t clearer a hundred years ago either. And I think they’ll only become more blurry.
But getting back to the things at hand. So, committee for evaluating certain projects, contemporary art projects that is, my young distinguished experts. All is going according to plan. But we arrive at the moment when the legendary 2 cents must be shared with the beneficiaries, who are in a larger number and much more needing of support (the 2 cents were and are still considered a joke that has nothing to do with reality). But how do we go about this sharing, for it was due to this issue that the honorary committee – of which is was humbly a part of – at the hottest possible hours (I fell as if it all happened yesterday) of the day?
And then, an unknown impulse (could it have been my guardian angel?) whispered to me: “Make a suggestion”. And I nervously did. The reply instantly follows: “My dear lady, it’s as if you’re handing out money from your own pocket!” Yes. That’s where all the funding was coming from, because it was public funding, and the state withdrew my 16% tax rate in order to redirect the 2 cents towards culture. Or perhaps you’d prefer I use the metaphor of the 3 straws instead?
In that fateful afternoon I thought I saw a fine line between my own pocket and the state’s pocket. Well, whadaya know? It is, in fact, the same pocket.
Let’s recap: young confident artists apply with hundreds of papers to finance their interesting projects. A serious and determined committee is hard at work sorting, noting, financially supporting. In the middle of it there some funds, few, small, insufficient, whatever. Where do they come from: from me, you, the artist who is applying, the committee member, the expert evaluator of course, etc. So, from our own personal, private funds who have become public.
Now, this is where it gets really tricky. How does one proceed when the evolution of things and the irony of it all leads to laws, finance priorities, policies that leave you, the one whose money the state withdrew, out of the loop, left on the benches where it’s nice and breezy, but there’s nothing you can do about it? Don’t you feel a little bit (more) cheated? To your face. A tax payer, yeah. You might even face penalties and your bank accounts could become frozen if you don’t pay your taxes in time. Beneficiary, well, that’s another discussion. Spectator for cultural products and services that you can appreciate? Yes and no, as was the case with the legal / finance priority. Expert in cultural issues? Only if you say what everyone wants to hear. If not, then no. There are always others who are willing to say what is asked of them.
In other words, we have money from the state budget and festivals that you don’t need, but it’s OK because others do. We have models and priorities for developing that are morally obsolete and moving speeches about European trends are these and not those. If we positively have to repeat someone else’s mistakes, there are a lot of ways to do so. Even Israel is part of the European league (at least when it comes to football). But no one ever forgets any decision ever made in the cultural policies of Tel Aviv, people have at least a faint idea of how others works, not just the French. Just so we clear the air, my studies were done at a French academy. But I also read about other experiences. And I don’t glorify a model only because it is of bon ton and of good fortune for future collaboration.
Just as I enjoy believing I am, as Clint Eastwood’s (adapted) line from “In the Line of Fire” (1993), a 40 year old Caucasian woman, single but not really, who enjoys piano tunes, as any minority that is represented on the cultural scene, as Clint’s character, I chose to publicly manifest my right to see my taxes go to work in a direction that is at least as wise as Clint’s decisions, abiding some decent priorities, with less murkiness when it comes to private life becoming public (who divorces who, who suffers from emotional disorders – what a magazine theater would this be! But who to write the librettos?) and with public funds under fire in order to become the private funds of those who deserve it.
Andreea Grecu is a cultural manager and lecturer. Between 1999-2004, then from 2009 onward, she is active on the NGO scene, as member of cultural associations and professional unions in domanis such a...