What Is to Be Done? Arts, Civil Society and Crisis

by Augustine Zenakos

A Symposium about the role of the Arts in times of Crisis calls for a trip from one PIIGS country to another, on a rather eventful day.

I feel rather conflicted about not being in Athens today, in what looks already like one of the biggest demonstrations in recent years. I did, however, in the end believe that speaking about what we are going through in Greece is useful, particularly if it is done in other places that might have sympathy, but not a whole lot of information, as it were, from the “ground”. Moreover, it seemed to me, since I received the invitation to participate in the “Arts, Civil Society and Crisis” Symposium in Cork, Ireland, that the organizers’ intention was to challenge the insular way with which arts professionals are accustomed to treating social upheaval, even though all the while contemporary art is deemed to be politically poignant and socially relevant.

My thoughts are with the people down in Athens, and my friends of course. All the best and take care these days. Here is a legal guide for demonstrators (in Greek), with what to do if you get in trouble with the Police. And right below is the Symposium programme.

Create and Voluntary Arts Ireland are hosting a symposium, on 20 and 21 October 2011, in Christchurch, Triskel Arts Centre, Cork Cityto discuss the current and future relationship of arts and civil society.

How might we rethink the relationship of arts and civil society in a time of crisis?

What might constitute new modes of cultural resistance?

How is art embedded in the everyday?

The symposium is a great opportunity to participate in a discussion with a national and an international cohort of artists, thinkers, community activists and civil society leaders.

Over the two days, speakers will address how and if art in the context of civil society fits with a market led art/cultural tourism model – and whether it should – and how arts and culture can be reaffirmed at the heart of civic engagement.

Create and Voluntary Arts Ireland have confirmed the participation of Dr Anthony Downey as keynote speaker and speakers from Italy, Ireland, England, Greece and Portugal who will take part in the Carnegie Challenge Debate – Arts and Civil Society in Crisis.

Here are the Full programme and biographies of the speakers.