In Service: Art, Value, Merit, and the Making of Publics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The paradox created between natural talent and education, aspiration and ability, class and poverty is of critical importance in contemporary art, not least in terms of shifting demographics of who is able to become an artist, but also in terms of how institutions of art are led and staffed. It is also critical—and woven into—what we understand by public service. The transformation of cultural provision from a largely cheap or free, basically publicly funded activity to one that is corporately funded within a fluid network of private patronage initiatives—and that has a high media profile but is out of bounds both culturally and financially to most people—is one of the attainments (and realities) of processes of contemporary public service. These attainments are now largely shaped through neoliberalism as its mechanisms have continued to be adopted and perfected by governments over the past thirty years. Such attainments profoundly repurpose our understanding of what it means to give, render, and access “service” in itself.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPublic Servants
Subtitle of host publicationArt and the Crisis of the Common Good
EditorsJohanna Burton, Shannon Jackson, Dominic Willsdon
PublisherThe MIT Press
ISBN (Print)9780262034814
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


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