From The Hawkes Library; affiliated with
© 20/10/09 Jon Hawkes <email> <web>
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The perils of bureaucracy

Bureaucracies can't help themselves; history shows us that these systems inevitably exhibit a range of tendencies designed to make the world more manageable, more predictable, more secure, more measurable. Perfectly understandable, but not really conducive to discovery. For artmaking to flourish these tendencies need to be recognised and reined in.

The tendency:


Inverted policy priorities

Focus on the outward manifestations of professional production while not recognising the need to care for the ground that supports these emanations.

Assuming unity

Forget, ignore, and/or trivialise alternate traditions; to assume that a 'mainstream' culture is all encompassing.


Encourage its 'clients' to adopt 'business models'.


Elevate notions of 'talent' and 'excellence' to heights that can be scaled only by a select few.


Distribute most resources through established bodies (usually already beneficiaries of State support and often completely dependent on and responsible to the State)

Doppleganger syndrome

Encourage the emergence of management teams within agency 'client groups' that have values and behaviours similar to those of the agency personnel.


Use 'no' as the default response; 'why?' rather than 'why not?'


Leap on bandwagons and to believe that appropriating the latest planning fashion will lead to the fond embrace of the powerful.


Lack clarity, confidence or enthusiasm in expressing the reasons why community art is a foundation for civic engagement AND public support of local cultural initiative is essential.


Not listen to the communities they serve.


Muffle the voices of their communities.


Regard the sole legitimate outcome of cultural activities as being things that can be marketed to consumers; AND to tacitly assume that it is socially healthy to support a small class of producers to make these commodities for general consumption. Indeed, it is not uncommon for increased consumption to be used as an indicator of cultural development.

Excellent public manifestations

Pressure implementers of State-supported activities to climax their work with public spectacles that conform to complex artistic standards.

Encouraging dependence

Assume that the only cultural activities going on are those supported by the authorities (at least, the only activities of value) and to encourage communities to assume the same; to further assume that the only valuable things that can happen are those emerging from government initiative.

Singular events

Support activities within extremely limited time-spans.


Avoid real participation - as a lifestyle, a professional practice and as a way of measuring impact.

Forgetting the young

Focus on 'adult' cultural production.

Guttenberg rules

Overlook new (and old) mediums

Being serious

Take everything (including themselves) too seriously.


Suffocate 'clients' in mountains of paperwork.

Prisoners of Treasury

Accept the supremacy of economic priorities.


Passively accommodate the inevitable inertia of bureaucratic culture.

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© 20/10/09 Jon Hawkes <email> <web>
From The Hawkes Library; affiliated with

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