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CAL Arts Economies 2023-24

How can the arts and learning assist in supporting economies that bring fulfilling, ecological, ethical thriving? In 2023-2024 the Centre for Arts and Learning will be focusing research events and projects on Arts Economies.

The arts have ways of envisioning beyond the facticities and constraints of contemporary life (Beauvoir 1948, Matthews 2019, 2024, Sayers 2023). Arts practice also illuminates and exhibits the cause and effect of social inequality. The arts can activate creativity, imagination, wellbeing - even happiness, all of which are priceless. However economic decisions are also made about the impacts of the arts on each of these conditions.

Economies have extensive grids of past, present and future interactions. As Yanis Varoufakis says, everyone in society can discuss economic processes – and not just economists. Posthuman creative economies might critique the capitalism of ‘recycling’ (Varoufakis 2017), or ponder ‘the value of a whale’ (Buller 2022), in its ability to capture vast quantities of CO2 (Pearson et al. 2023). In a similar way, arts economies expand to consider impacts on inclusive human and other-than-human environments.

Arts practice sustains the singularities of self and also collective expression, in the relationships between materials and maker, concepts and creation, and via ecosystems of interdependency. Art genres mediate the light, shadows and materiality created by each other, and support one another in creative ecologies.

However in education we are constantly faced with cuts to the learning experiences that enable participation in, and contribution to purposeful, engaged, necessary experiences of the arts. Arts pedagogies that reflect on the implications of capitalism and possible alternatives, could help to reassign value, and potentially prevent this embezzling from creative futures.

On the one hand, artist educators may want to protest about the normative constructions of economic value, and neoliberal complicity in education. Yet with the rising costs of living, what will we all do as creatives, artist educators, researchers and students, to keep the quality of life of our communities and families above the spiralling costs? Are ‘desperate measures’ needed? Can society afford not to invest in the arts? How can makers find equitable ways to ‘make it’? The Centre for Arts and Learning will be discussing these and other questions in the 2023-24 Arts Economies programme of events.

  • Beauvoir, S. de (1948) The Ethics of Ambiguity. New York: Open Road.
  • Buller, A. (2022) The Value of A Whale: On the Illusions of Green Capitalism. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  • Pearson, H. C., Savoca, M. S., Costa, D. P., Lomas, M. W., Molina, R., Pershing, A. J., and others, (2023) ‘Whales in the Carbon Cycle: Can Recovery Remove Carbon Dioxide?’, Trends in Ecology & Evolution (Amsterdam), 38.3, 238–49.
  • Matthews, M. (2019) Ethos of Ambiguity: Artist Teachers and the Transparency Exclusion Paradox, The International Journal of Art & Design Education, 38.4. 853–66.
  • Matthews, M. (2024) Moving Beyond Immanence: in R. Payne ed., Professional Learning for Artist Teachers: Pedagogy, Practice and Partnership in UK Contexts. Maidenhead: Open University Press
  • Sayers, E. (2023) Skateboarding, Time and Ethics: An Auto Ethnographic Adventure of Motherhood and Risk, Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, 17.3. 306–26.
  • Varoufakis, Y. (2017) Talking to My Daughter: A Brief History of Capitalism. London: Penguin.

Upcoming events

Centre for Arts and Learning and Institute of Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship: CAL and ICCE Arts Economies Symposium, Wednesday 8 May 2024

Past events