ASEF – New media culture policy mini summit with IFACCA

April 26, 2009
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Back in 2004 when I chaired ISEA2004 and worked at m-cult, I collaborated with Arts Council Finland and the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA) and set up an expert meeting on new media arts practice and policy. The second mini-summit was organized on 24-26 July 2008 by the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) and IFACCA in partnership with ISEA2008 (International Symposium for Electronic Arts). The programme was summoned by Rob van Kranenbourg.

The event in Singapore brought together 54 artists, researchers and policy makers from 26 countries. What was quite different between this mini-summit and the Helsinki one was that local policy was not on the agenda: Singaporean policy is much more about policing than about support for independent and let alone critical cultural practices. Representation of local policy bodies was formally there on the first day of the event but no actual dialogue took place about the local policy. Two local practitioners were luckily present to share views on what’s going on – and what it may mean to “represent” international collaboration in Singapore… in other words, does one passively accept the local policy?

Konrad Becker, participant to the summit, in front of Wipo next to ASEF office in Singapore.

Konrad Becker, participant to the summit, in front of Wipo next to ASEF office in Singapore.

There were good workshop discussions and lively dialogue, and also new connections made between the participants. I particularly enjoyed the session that looked at research and media arts policy. Some of these discussions were taken up also later during the Leonardo Educational Forum (LEF) meeting, hosted by Nina Czegledy, where I co-hosted a session with Maja Kuzmanovic. At the same time as discussions were fruitful, I found that many participants had not much experience in dealing with the inter-relationshiop of practice and policy. Thus the event mostly was a mapping of practice in its various formats, and what might policy mean in each given region. This all was good and interesting, but in order to push forward policy questions that would be implemented either in national frameworks or to start collaboration between policy bodies to make changes in how the new media arts are supported, there was less focus and momentum. Rather, issues raised since 1997 P2P meeting in Amsterdam published in the Amsterdam Agenda, and results from the Helsinki mini-summit as Helsinki Agenda, and arguments from Delhi Declaration developed from a meeting in 2005 at Sarai were re-iterated.

After the event Recommendations  developed from the Mini Summit on New Media Arts  Policy & Practice were written by Awadhendra Sharan and myself with editorial support from Annette Wolfsberger. Unfortunately Rob van Kranenbourg did not participate in writing this, instead, he withdrew from the process, but remained as an author of the final report. So we were left with the balancing acts of how to deal with the non-presence of the local context for policy in Singapore, and the diversity of agendas presented by the participants to the mini-summit. So whether to do a good policy document, or to aim at never possible representative text of the event as a whole? I guess the end result is a compromise between the two. I am glad it got done, but the process was far too laborsome, as its’ design should have been there from the beginning of the event design to the end.

The report + recommendations can be downloaded as a PDF-file.
Helsinki mini-summit ARSIS magazine can be downloaded as a PDF-file.
Delhi Declaration of a New Context for a New Media at deBalie Dossiers.
Amsterdam Agenda archived at V2_Archive.

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