Arts Collaboratory

What's working well?

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Berlin Banga

The Berlin Banga that took place in February 2018 marked the beginning of a new chapter for Arts Collaboratory that focuses on a deeper understanding of self-organization and the possibilities for meaningful future collaborations. In order to look forward and better understand AC’s purpose, the Berlin team first had to look back on what has been working well.  

What was learned?

The Banga began by sharing stories of what is working in Arts Collaboratory. The group identified the areas they were proud of,in AC – both as a network and within the individual organizations. At its center, AC works with potential. Strengths and active research areas were grouped around this quality.

By researching the connections between members, AC has been “remapping the world”. This new paradigm connects members beyond colonialism and neoliberalism as AC has been generating friendships and personal relationships that act as a form of currency and power. This happens through: 

1. genuinely enjoying each other’s company,
2. functioning as a human resource pool to rely on for advice/support, 
3. learning and inspiring across geopolitical contexts, 
4. creating a sense of belonging through sharing struggles and 
5. lending weight to and endorsing individual organizations and their endeavors.

AC has been developing face-to-face interactions/Bangas [i], collective study, and trans-local collaborative projects, that enrich the network’s understanding of local contexts. Such endeavours illustrate how AC is configuring a way of working outside of the dominant operational modes of the commercial art world to counteract the more individualistic, celebrity-style system.  

Further, Arts Collaboratory has been developing changes in how it operates as an art organization by experimenting with the following: 

1. self-organization and AC network structures, 
2. self-determination using long-term and critical planning, which enables work on more relevant projects 
3. strengthening relations with our respective local and regional communities and 
4. operating as a sort of “rehab for dictators”.

Many AC member-organizations, as a result, have been re-organizing themselves and going through self-transformative processes. 

A core element of Arts Collaboratory has been the exploration of organizations’ relationship to money and how they collectively work and live. AC has implemented a provisional, alternative funding system that allows more freedom and space for sustainability, and has the potential to act as a catalyst for social change. This funding system has signaled a paradigm shift for many organizations that has seen an alignment of funds with AC’s Ethical Principles and a focus on sustainability, degrowth, and organizational change.

[i] Banga means “place/time” together in an Ugandan language.