Apr 22, 2013

Small Town Transformation: Transformation is a big CONcept – Esther Anatolitis

Sophia Hewson, Cowwarr Artist in Residence with dead rabbit 

Small Town Transformation: ”Transformation is a big CONcept” – Esther Anatolitis

As this project limps towards the day when the Minister of Arts declares the 5 lucky Victorian small towns each winners of the $350,000 purse, I thought a bit more on the topic may be in order. Lucky! Is the word for it, because it is extremely unlikely that any objective assessment would produce the same results.

“Transformation is a big concept – encompassing arts, community, place, vision and heart” - Esther Anatolitis. This is about as succinct as descriptions of this project actually get. Of course once we remove the jolly press release style and translate it into more reasonable language we get the core message. So Regional Arts Victoria is looking for big ideas (concepts) that transform (change/alter) small towns and these ideas for change must involve art (broadest possible interpretation of art is implied here), community (all the people that live in the town), vision (= idea, repeated again to reinforce the conceptual preferences for this project) heart (an accidental slip of the tongue because nowhere else in either the guidelines or the expression of interest doc is “expression” (heart) really encouraged.

Now you will see that we get something very strange when we put the 2 parts of RAV’s promo for this project together.

 How can art transform your town? Correct answer:  Art can transform your town if that “transformation is a big concept – encompassing arts, community, place, vision and heart.”

When the winners are announced you can all play this game at home, here are the actual issues that applicants had to address and as you see, you don’t have to know anything about art to answer most of them correctly, each section was to be scored equally (which surprised me when the organisers confirmed it on several occasions) so 6 questions 10 points each, total of 60.

  1. Identify need, greatest number of “needs” should win here.
  2. Artistic transformation, horizon to horizon, transforming the whole town with an idea, world first, originality, best artists, and most high quality art should win here.
  3. Local engagement, again numbers – if every section of the town is involved that should get 10 points.
  4. Community participation – Every member of the community participating = 10 points.
  5. Legacy planning – Impact should last for a long time and contribute to town’s sustainability etc, more numbers!
  6. Project Management -The most experienced teams, doing the most professional projects get 10 points.

The glaring failure in this process is that the artistic side of things is only worth 10 points!!!

I’m looking forward to the next post when we get to review the 5 winners in strict accordance to the published criteria. For the record we reckon we’re 58 out of 60, because using this objective formula, we should have only dropped no more than 2 points for not being able to really accommodate “multi-cultural issues” very effectively, because there are none in Cowwarr.

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