The tenuous relationship between art and tech in Seattle

I was reminded of this at the time all over again this previous 7 days, whilst conversing with regional curator and writer Sharon Arnold. As a longtime Seattle gallery proprietor, Arnold for many years has structured talks about and written about how to bridge the hole between the artwork globe and … properly, everyone else, but notably the people with expendable dollars (which includes tech employees). 

Our conversation was in the course of an job interview for a story I wrote this week about a controversy that experienced ripped as a result of the regional artwork globe like a wildfire. The spark: A get in touch with for art (that includes a cartoon of Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates donning boxing gloves) for an show called “Amazon vs Microsoft.” The gasoline: battling artists, as one commenter set it, “actively priced out by these firms.” And the oxygen? Social media. 

All through our cellular phone connect with, Arnold defined that this dialogue was not new — it is been around at least because the 1990s. In actuality, Arnold and I have talked about this extremely subject various instances previously in just six decades of my reporting in Seattle. 

And though it was not a new dialogue, the “art as opposed to tech” debate blew up this week — and was the converse of the town at the Seattle Artwork Truthful (and at its sexier sibling, Forest For the Trees). 

I thought the timing was fitting. The Seattle Art Good was founded in 2015 by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (1953-2018). A billionaire, philanthropist and one of the region’s and world’s most crucial artwork collectors, Allen preferred the artwork truthful to do for his town what the glitzy Art Basel did for Basel (and Miami). 

When we talk about artwork, tech and philanthropy in Seattle, the discussion inevitably turns to Allen. Whilst he was not universally loved — and a lot of questioned the whims of his arts philanthropy — lots of consider him to have been much more generous to the arts than the city’s other tech billionaires, Jeff Bezos and Invoice Gates. “He donated so substantially more to liberal arts organizations,” a area artist explained to me this week. Other individuals place out that, with the elimination of the art branches of his company Vulcan (no longer involved with the good), considerably of his exterior arts funding has dried up, a mere 4 decades just after his death. Why, then, some question, pin your hopes on tech philanthropy? 

With an artwork sector in shambles as we enter yr three of a devastating pandemic, it’s a discussion that has develop into all the extra applicable. Will one more community arts philanthropist emerge? Can struggling arts corporations and artists depend on fiscal support from governmental businesses? 

I am reminded of something several other individuals alluded to in about a dozen interviews I conducted for this week’s tale: There is not one particular band-support (or one particular philanthropist). The arts are an ecosystem — and a fragile 1 at that. The art sector is comprised of a complex, interconnected community that needs a range of aid, as Arnold instructed me, not just to endure but thrive. Arts reporting is an essential aspect of the ecosystem, and I really do not get that purpose flippantly. I search ahead to continuing the conversation, even if it is deja vu all about once more.

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