Stefaan Decostere on Mon, 10 Nov 1997 21:46:20 +0100 (MET)

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<nettime> AMSTERDAM MACHT FREI (re: The Amsterdam Agenda)


The Amsterdam Agenda is indeed one more 'landmark' towards the current
dominant type of 'cultural policy' in Europe, as it makes very clear that
it aims at integrating and making useful the latest manifestations of
independant cultural production for the market driven world order.

Some of us may know what thousands and thousands of jobless people already
know, namely, that a new kind of total authority is in the make, in the
name of 'the sovereignty of the market'.  Representatives of that authority
were present during the announcement of the A'dam Agenda, using the
platform to advertise their ultimate recommendation for artists, that is :
'to join efforts with the entrepeneur and the industrialist' (again).

Nothing we didn't know already, except that the whole event, this time, has
been organized by media-responsibles (some of them running festivals and
institutions for years) trying to solidify their positions and therefore -
in panic - pushing to full speed a mega-treaty with policy-makers.

One of the things unacceptable is that all this manoeuvring was done in the
name of 'culture, art and independance...', whereas this kind of treaty,
more than just potentially, opened the door for 'mutually desired'

Isn't this Agenda then not just another example of what Baudrillard lately
has called a farce, reversing and thus updating Marx : 'Une Farce qui se
répète et devient Histoire'.

It definitely became clear what the new media-responsibles have been
preparing the last years and what kind of cultural history they want to

It was so significant that during the whole event not a word has been said
about the recent major shift of European public television, that is, from
content provider to marketer, and definitely nothing about the
consequences.  That latest demonstration of what 'practice to
policy-making' actually entails, clearly was not welcome, and was therefore
not remembered.

Is it for the same reason that all terms were kept as vague as possible ?
Such as (and I quote some) : 'independency, interdisciplinarity, virtual
public, social quality, political questions, innovation, margins of
society, youth culture, community participation, unexpected impacts of
technology on society'...
Whereas other elements were tactically re-defined, with statements about
artists who 'can be valuable to developers of hardware and software' and
who 'are by nature critical'  Are they?

Of course concerns were expressed, but only then defined as 'dangers', as
if these 'dangers' are still to come :
>* The danger that the agendas for the Information Society are purely
>* The danger of homogenisation and the Disneyification of European culture.
>* The danger that culture may be understood only in terms of entertainment.

Whereas the real issues were forwarded to future agenda's (the usual
trick), and were re-termed as 'needs' :
>* The need to understand the fundamental transformation of the public domain
>  through privatisation.
>* The need to protect democratic control and cultural diversity.

As Agenda entrepreneurs stated that : 'The potential is there' (where?),
but it has to be exploited' (by whom?)

- 'A productive relationship in which art can maintain its autonomy, and in
which art and industry can learn and mutually benefit from each other's
achievements and talents, is desirable for both parties'.
In the erotical way, then?  My a..!!!

- 'Many media artists believe industrial partners should not only provide
technical knowledge and money, but also contribute to the content of the
The way tv-managers do it? Thanks!!!

Yes, Willem Van Weelden : 'the aim of the organisers was clear' ... :  'to
break open an entrance in the European, to adopt and appropriate the lingo
of European policy makers', in order 'to conclude that policy makers in
government and industry can work profitably together with media culture on
the basis of an exchange of benefits'.

However, useless to quote Benjamin : he would just have turned his back and
continued his work.

Stefaan Decostere
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