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What is the future of arts infrastructures and audiences across North Africa and the Middle East?

Stéphanie Dadour
8 May 2014

What role do the arts play in producing an idea of a future, or, indeed, producing future realities?


The idea of a 'future' is no longer a current one, especially in the arts. I believe our societies are anchored in the present time and in arelation to the past. Nowadays, I don't believe that the arts has any role or impact in producing (future) realities outside its frame. 


What do speculations of the future tell us about the concerns of the present and the legacies of the past?


Speculations on the future are the projections we are able to formulate in the present, from the legacies of the past.


How do institutions map potential futures?


I have no idea, but from my experience, not very wisely or interestingly, they seem to rely on numbers, on budgets, on power and specific practices – without challenging the status quo.


How can we imagine new infrastructures and institutions in the context of architectural, institutional, and practical realities?


It would be interesting to imagine them as less homogenous, glazed over and bland. Instead of being oriented towards star systems, to imagine the fragmentation of the core of the institution, of its system, in order to stay in touch with different realities that are not only practical.


What will future audiences look like and how will culture continue not only to negotiate social activity, political engagement and critical practices, but their future sustainability as ideals?


On the one hand, the audiences of art infrastructures seem to be oriented towards the tourism industry. On the other, arts infrastructures are still attracting art specialists, experts or an elitist milieu. I don't believe culture is nowadays negotiating social activity, political engagement and critical practices. Culture is following the forces of the market.


How will the changing nature of audiences challenge, if at all, the long-term sustainability of arts institutions?


Given the development of tourism, I believe that those new audiences will allow institutions to exponentially develop on long-term; producing more spectacular and entertaining projects.


What role does education have in developing audiences and what role, crucially, do institutions expect audiences to fulfil?


Education can have a role in developing audiences, in particular in heightening awareness of its potentiality as a place for taking positions. If institutions expect audiences to have a role, they should be designed in this sense  though such a design I have never yet encountered.


What is the role of the institution today in terms of developing infrastructures that respond to the needs of the times?


To redefine itself and have a critical approach towards its apparatus. To integrate different fields of study, and different kinds of knowledge and approaches to its teams. To open itself towards areas, people, approaches, activities, frameworks it did not use to hire, to work with or to think of.


How have technological advances changed the way institutions interact with audiences?


Quite poorly. If one's interested in interaction (with audiences), technologies have facilitated the development and proliferation of platforms for that. But I am not yet sure of the impact and interest of such an expansion.


Is disengagement with institutions the best way to imagine new forms of systemic practice and self-organized, socially engaged art practices?


It is one way but necessarily the best. It depends on the institution and the kind of engagement envisaged.


How do forms of self-organizations re-articulate the function, or, indeed, rationale of institutions?


Self-organization implies a continuous auto-evaluation and an incessant understanding of different realities. Whereas although they rely on funds and audiences, institutions become self-sufficient and autonomous; therefore very little critical.


What is actually needed in terms of infrastructure for culture and its more discursive elements - the way in which it impacts on public space or civil society, for example?


If the aim is to impact public space or civil society, interviews should be addressed to the local civil society…

Stéphanie Dadour

Maitre-assistante associé chercheure, ENSA Paris-Malaquais, Laboratoire ACS. Architecture, Culture, Société XIXe-XXIe siècles.

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