Chile/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate  

4.2.1 Conceptual issues of policies for the arts

As mentioned above, cultural policy in Chile defines the arts as practices, experiences and thoughts mediated by perception, emotion, sentiment, imagination and reason (in short, subjectivity); they are the expression of a right (political dimension) to symbolise, create and re-create oneself, and to create memory and meaning.

Artistic manifestations carry a dual nature: as creative processes, they are realities that are constituted in art itself and are self-sustaining; however, as practices, they are also permeated by motivations and interests within a specific social, economic, political and cultural context. In the light of the above, artistic practices as cultural manifestations in a social context contain activities linked to the institution of art, proposals that mimic art and everyday life, and a relationship of tension between the traditional and the modern (CNCA, 2011b). Similarly, artistic manifestations in the context of modernity include vehicles of common and even traditional conceptions, as well as countercultural works involving rupture against fixed and established ideas.

Recognition of the relative autonomy of art and the social transformations of the past century have seen the emergence of new forms of cultural economy, progressively integrating symbolic production into the cycles of commodity production. Accompanied by the technical development of symbolic production and the questioning of modernist discourses in art, this process has generated the conditions for the emergence of a postmodern aesthetic discourse (Jameson, 2006), which reformulates and abandons the traditional boundaries of the spheres, practices and fields of cultural life. On this basis, new textualities emerge (Lagos, 2011) for multimedia art, facilitating the use and appropriation of a wide variety of elements from the arts field, based on points of convergence between visual arts, the world of sound, performance, and digital media, to name a few areas.

Discussions of this nature highlight the need to constantly redefine the boundaries of cultural and artistic activities in terms of cultural policy, allowing the incorporation of areas previously not considered as truly artistic from the point of view of traditional modern paradigms.

Depending on the development of cultural policy that recognises the multiple dimensions associated to specifically artistic activities, the National Council for Culture and the Arts has adopted definitions provided by international organisations that account for the various creative and economic processes related to the cultural field. The concept of cultural and related domains (UNESCO, 2009) allows us to identify cultural goods and services, whether they are industrial or non-industrial, protected or not by copyright, in a pragmatic and operational way, based on the artistic and cultural areas in which they occur. These domains facilitate the identification of agents and processes, allowing us to measure, study, define and support them in terms of public policy. The Research Department of the CNCA, through its Framework for Cultural Statistics project (CNCA, 2012c), developed an approach to said domains according to the elements of the national cultural field, identifying the following domains:

-        Basic nuclear domains:

  • Heritage.
  • Visual arts.
  • Performing arts.
  • Music.
  • Crafts.
  • Literary arts, books and press.
  • Audiovisual and interactive media.
  • Architecture, design and creative services.

-        Transversal domains:

  • Education.
  • Infrastructure and equipment. 

On the other hand, the notion of the cultural cycle (UNESCO, 2009) recognises the economic and social dimensions of culture, considering different regimes of administration linked to the public and private sectors, and incorporates different levels of institutionalisation or formalisation of activities. On this basis, the cultural cycle allows for the identification of the different stages for the creation, production and dissemination of culture, which are structured in a grid-like format rather than a hierarchy, favouring connections and feedback between the different levels. The stages of said cycle, developed by virtue of the Chilean cultural reality, are the following (CNCA, 2012c):

-        Research.

-        Development.

-        Creation.

-        Production.

-        Interpretation.

-        Dissemination and Distribution.

-        Valuation.

-        Use.

-        Commercialisation.

-        Exhibition.

-        Conservation/Restoration.

-        Appropriation.

-        Consumption. 

An important concept in order to understand the development of cultural policy in Chile oriented towards the support of the arts is the notion of creative industries. Based on the traditional concept of cultural industries, which refers to activities that combine the creation, production and commercialisation of intangible creative content of a cultural nature, protected by copyright and distributed as a good or service, the idea of creative industries recognises these elements in a wider spectrum of activities, to include any artistic or cultural activity, be it performing arts or goods produced individually, including, in addition to the arts and cultural industries, areas such as architecture and advertising (UNESCO, 2006) (See Chapter 4.2.3).

Likewise and by virtue of the above, during the last few years the Department for the Promotion of the Arts and Creative Industries of CNCA has created specific areas of work for fields such as New Media, Architecture, and Design, which are now added to the permanent support for Crafts, Visual Arts, Circus Arts, Dance, Photography and Theatre; together with Music, Books and Reading, and Audiovisual Arts (see Chapter 2). In any case and without prejudice to the support through contestable funding, the Department for the Promotion of the Arts and Creative Industries of the CNCA develops specific initiatives to support the different artistic disciplines that form a part of cultural policy in Chile, by hosting events, workshops, trainings and presentations open to the general public.

It is important to note, however, that the field of Cultural Heritage is approached within the institutional structure of CNCA both in the Department for the Promotion of the Arts and Creative Industries, through contestable funding at the regional level, as well as in the Department of Citizenship and Culture, through the Section of Cultural Heritage and its programmes, in coordination with other institutions such as the National Monuments Council and the DIBAM.

Finally, it is worth emphasising the major boost given to the internationalisation of the arts by the National Council for Culture and the Arts, which develops mechanisms of circulation and international co-operation for national artists of different disciplines, through the International Affairs Unit (see Chapter 3.4).

Chapter published: 28-12-2013