Pushing for Sustainability: Arts Funding Applications as Symbolic Violence
The presentation investigates how the language of arts funding applications tacitly imposes economic pressures onto art organizations in the name of sustainability. The paper analyzes ten years of granting documents from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and explores how the gradual inclusion of business language increases the demands on the manpower and resources of arts organizations with no significant increase in the amount of funding. Using Bourdieu’s concepts of symbolic violence and the State-as-meta-field, the subtle imposition of economic demands through funding applications is observed as a manipulation that allows governments to maintain the power of consecration granted by the accumulation of symbolic capital in society while simultaneously pushing the performing arts slowly into the market economy. Though the presentation addresses arts funding applications as sites of symbolic violence, it also considers how the very imposition of economic priorities onto non-profit arts organizations may, ironically, be the saving grace for such organizations in the face of global economic crisis. Forced to operate under the rigid fiscal demands of granting programs, arts organizations in Alberta are accustomed to efficient operation with limited resources. Therefore they are actually poised to weather the economic storm better than other arts organizations in Canada.
Keywords: Arts Funding Applications, Sustainability, Economic Pressure, Performing Arts Organizations, Bourdieu, Symbolic Violence, State as Meta-Field
Doctoral Candidate, Interdisciplinary Graduate Program, University of Calgary