Art as a commons

Rachel Breen, Towards a Collective Understanding of Art As a Commons, On The Commons, November 26, 2008.  Excerpt:

This is the first in a series of essays about art and the commons based on interviews and research in 2007-2008. Watch for more from Rachel Breen in the near future. Editors

How is art a commons? In many conversations with artists and cultural workers from around the country, I had the opportunity to discuss how we might give more shape to the notion that art is a commons. A commons-based society could help increase the ways art provides meaning and value to all of our lives. The current status of the art market – the buying and selling of art at exorbitant prices and an increasingly privatized and exclusive sphere where art is out of reach, literally and figuratively, hurts us all. While most would agree that art is worth so much more than what it can be bought and sold for, (if it can be sold at all) the relentless expansion of the market into the world of art calls us to protect access to making and participating in art. While preventing further encroachment of the market into the commons of art and culture can help insure that people can enjoy and partake of art in the broadest sense, it will also protect artists’ ability to more freely draw from material, ideas and ways of working in order to create anew. This article, the first in a series, seeks to initiate a dialogue about art as a commons and how a common understanding of this notion might help us to sustain and promote creativity and access to the arts….