Divergence and agonism: the different, the other and the one who disagrees.
Cultural communication and democracy in Scotland
Gesa Helms, Leigh French, Lisa Bradley, and the former Variant Editorial Group, 8 March 2016
This document is based on a study conducted by the collaborative arts/media project Variant over the past year into forms and practices of communication, principally within the contemporary visual arts of Scotland's cultural sector. The document is concerned with the institutional impact of communicative forms, strategies and competencies on the democratic practices and concerns of those whose work effectually constitutes the sector. Put more principally, it concerns such impact on the ways one perceives and conceives of the possible positions to occupy in daily experiences within this field. That is, the interrelationship of politics and aesthetics in how what is visible and invisible, sayable and unsayable, audible and inaudible connects with how we can understand our roles and modes of participation, ways of doing and making the world (Couldry 2010).
The study was part-funded by Creative Scotland’s Communication and Engagement budget and arose out of a series of discussions between the Editorial Group of Variant magazine and Creative Scotland between 2013 and early 2014. These discussions related to Variant seeking clarification from Creative Scotland over funding criteria and decisions with regard to Variant's prior applications, leading to a complaints process that centred on the transparency and accountability of the institution in the making of funding awards. As Variant's Editorial Group, we were trying to take seriously the statements made in relation to decisions not to fund the magazine and questions that arose from this.