The International Conference on the Arts in Society (the Arts Conference), its associated journals, and the Arts in Society Book Series and News Blog create forums for discussion and publication of innovative theories, practices and critical commentaries in the arts. In each of these venues, discussion is grounded in a widely acknowledged need for critical reflection on the nature and purposes of the arts, specifically as they are situated in everyday life, culture, economics and politics.
With greater intensity in recent years, crucial public discussions have pivoted around the antinomies of public-private, government-market, citizen-consumer, collective-individual and social-self. This knowledge community explores the nuanced complexities of the arts practices and thinking about the arts in a time when these fundamental future-framing questions are never far away. Creative acts of engagement are called for that respond to the imperatives of our times. ‘Zones of free expression’ become an ever more pressing requirement in present-day contexts of social transformation.
The Arts Conference, journals, book imprint and news blog aim to create spaces for open dialogue and exchange in all aspects of the arts, where interdisciplinary discussions can emerge from a variety of format presentations – from more traditional academic papers, to workshops, garden conversations, staged readings, performances, and exegeses – all in the context of an international meeting place and publication.
Conference discussions and texts published in the Journal range from the expansive and philosophical to finely grained analyses based on deep familiarity and understanding of a particular area of social knowledge or art practice. They bring into dialogue artists, theorists, policymakers, arts educators, researchers, curators and arts administrations, often in overlapping roles.
The aim of these dialogues is not only to create a reflective knowledge community, but also an actively engaged one – moving works from the studio to public discourse, inspiring creativity from the public stage and exhibition space to the policy chambers – as well as providing a forum for reflexive thinking about the role of the arts in society.
An action agenda pervades this thinking, asking that most practical of questions, ‘What is to be done? How can artists, theorists, cultural critics and educators seize the historical moment to create an agenda for the arts which positions them powerfully in relation to the often competing and intersecting agendas of economy, science and technology?