Media Art Funding Survey (2011)

Media Art Funding. An international survey.

1. Introduction

Commissioned in April 2011 by Les Jardins des Pilotes and conducted by Annette Schindler, the international media arts funding survey aims to give an international overview on the funding situation of media arts. The survey does not, however, offer a comprehensive list of funding structures and their history in the different countries.

It is no mere coincidence, that the study was commissioned at a time of massive funding cuts for culture in the Netherlands and the UK. It raises the question whether the fundamental changes taking place in these countries, as well as the ongoing discussions about media art funding in other countries, are part of a broader development, and how such a development might be connected to the current state of media art as an artistic field and as a discourse. The goal of this survey is to understand if the shifts we observe have a common direction, and if trends can be recognized across several countries.

In order to gain some insight into current funding structures and the debates that accompany policy changes in the field, 23 interviews with experts in media art from 13 different countries were conducted in the course of April and May 2011.

The results of these interviews lead to a number of general observations regarding the artistic field and discourse of media art (Chapter 2, below). Also, the individual situation of each country is being described, reflecting at times a somewhat subjective perspective from the point of view of the interviewees (Chapter 3, here). The survey is published in the format of a Wiki in order to have to possibility of updating the information or adding new information about countries that were not included in the original research process.

2. Summary

Media art is at stake. Changes take place at a high pace, intensity and depth. These changes concern many aspects of media art: its public finding structure and its conditions of production, its self-understanding as a field of art and a discourse. The direction that these changes take, are far from being homogenous and streamlined across the countries included in this survey.

The funding situation varies from country to country, it ranges from a good overall situation, through weak support structures, to the discarding of entire networks of institutions. In order to gain a critical understanding, funding needs to be discussed in relation to each individual country and its cultural politics. No general or overriding findings can be drawn with regard to the development of media art funding.

However, the assessment of media art as a field of art and a discourse registers across the board as one that is ridden by doubt and ambivalence. Accordingly, the respective statements made by the interview partners appear to be relevant across national borders. Therefore, their evaluation will comprise the main part of this chapter.

2.1 Public Media Art Funding

2.1.1. Funding Cuts

Both in the Netherlands and in the UK massive funding cuts for the arts are currently being enforced. All fields of art suffer from these cuts, but the field of media art with its small scale infrastructures is particularly vulnerable to these cuts. In both countries a large number of institutions will probably have to close down, their activities will be discontinued. Within the international comparison of this survey, the Netherlands and the UK take the most extreme position of disadvantage for media art. In no other country negative developments of this scope seem to be looming.

In Switzerland, within a larger shift of cultural funds between different cultural fields, media arts funds have been discontinued. Meanwhile visual arts also had to accept some cuts as an effect of organizational changes within the national funding structures. Comparably, in Vienna (on city-level) a reasonable portion of funds for media art were lost as collateral damage of structural changes.

For all the countries that are experiencing cuts in media arts funding, the underlying politics are rarely outspoken. Cuts are presented as a result of structural changes with no explicit intention to damage media art; or as the consequence of general budget shortage, in spite of the fact that the arts funds never comprise more than a minimal percentage of the deficit.

Some of the interview partners do read between the lines of cultural policy makers. They claim that media art is considered to be part of a mainstream art discourse, perhaps due to the fact that technologies have become ’normalized‘ as part of everyday culture. Therefore media art is considered no longer to be in need of special funding. Also, the contrary opinion exists: media art never succeeded in positioning itself as an important art form toward the politicians, and therefore it was never equipped with sufficient arguments to defend its support in critical situations. In one example (Australia), the reason for a structural change in media arts funding are justified with the argument that “new technologies were no longer considered an art form in and of itself, but rather to be integrated into many different art forms.” (Sowry)

2.1.2. Funding Continuity

Most other countries included in this survey report more stability and continuity in their funding structures for media arts: Italy and the USA traditionally have a low level of arts funding, including for media arts. In both countries financially the situation has barely changed in the past years. The possibilities for media artists have neither decreased nor expanded.

In Finland, media artists and institutions are welcome to apply for funding together with visual artists and have reasonable chances of receiving public support. In Finland, the defenders of the media art field are successful in maintaining and partially even increasing a separate funding structure for media arts. In Australia, media arts are fully integrated into the visual arts field and funded within it.

Funding structures specifically for media art exist in France on a national level, and in Germany on a regional level. They are not described as generous, but as sufficient.

At the top end of the media art funding scheme ranks Canada which has a sophisticated and successful funding system which covers artistic production, research, institutions and more: a multitude of funding possibilities in various contexts and no clouds in the sky for future developments.

The situation in Japan is hardly comparable to the other countries, specifically since in the course of this survey, “3.11” has changed much of the cultural landscape. Media art in Japan has had a closer connection to creative industries than in other countries and might therefore be less dependent on public funds and less vulnerable to changes in cultural politics.

2.1.3. Media arts within cultural politics

In many countries, the arts in general and media arts specifically seem to be instrumentalized politically in two directions. The arts are often not supported because they are not seen as a necessary part of society like public transportation, but they are treated as a mere pawn of political interests. While some politicians use the arts to sharpen the cultural profile of their region / country, others target the public funding of the arts as elitist and gain a populist profile by cutting such funds. In France, Italy, Germany and Switzerland, in individual local communities, politicians may choose to put media art specifically on their agenda, and with this commitment make a big difference for its local acceptance and funding. These local benefits are fragile and can change rapidly with new political constellations.

Where media arts still functions as a separate field with its own specificities, it is vulnerable to cuts. As a small and somewhat marginal field without much lobby support, it’s easy to cut. On the other hand, because of its many interfaces to other fields – film, design, production of knowledge, technology, activism, contemporary art, theatre, research and experimentation, etc. – media art practices have options to connect to such fields. Under certain circumstances, the industry and technology connections give media arts some political legitimation beyond the arts per se. Theoretically, this makes media art somewhat less elitist: In the the currect restructuring in the Netherlands, media culture – and thus some media art institutions – get away with smaller cuts because of their connection with research and innovation, this however at the price of disconnecting entirely from the arts field.

Fundamental differences in the cultural policies are ‘arms-length policies’ and peer-based evaluation (e.g. Finland, Switzerland, Austria), as opposed to more hierarchically driven systems, where cultural policies are not executed by people connected to the actors in the field (France, UK, Italy). It could be interesting to evaluate if these two systems differ in their cultural and political sustainability.

2.2 Media Art as a field and discourse

2.2.1. General Observations

Besides collecting information about media art funding structures, this survey also inquired about the status of media art in a more general sense. „We also want to address the intellectual challenge of a cultural situation that is markedly different from the 1990s when many of the earlier funding programs were developed in the spirit of digital technologies being innovative per se. How does the position of „media artistic practice“, crucially based on digital technologies and their cultural meanings, change in a phase when digital technologies become generally available and culturally normalized? How do discussions about funding policies respond to these changes?“ (quote from the survey-questionnaire).

In his statements, Felix Stalder summarizes poignantly some of the dominant opinions held by media art practitioners regarding the status of their field:

“Normalization of technologies

New digital media have normalized all too rapidly. They represent the mundane, no longer anything innovative or promising. Novelties are no longer expected from the technologies themselves, currently they come from pre-formated platforms like Facebook, or they appear as a smartphone app. Also artists use these tools without scrutiny. With the new possibilities of social networking we create our own environment. No longer is there a need to step outside of it and confront ourselves with unknown issues. Thus, the tolerance for irritation fades away. In an environment abundant of information we have to filter quickly and achieve fast search results. Irritations will drop out of this system rapidly.

Importance of expertise

The normalization of digital media has happened too early. Media art and media culture are not accepted by the mainstream art world. The esthetics of media art is not recognized by contemporary art experts, for example. If no specific media art expertise is present in art juries, media art works will be overlooked.

Abandoning the media art field

For a younger crowd, media art has a 90’s aftertaste, which they want to avoid. So in the course of time, this category will not be useful any more. Hence, the media art discourse continues to be dominated by an important pioneer generation and barely expands beyond it.

Strengths of the media art field

Media art as a field has a greater variety of interfaces to other cultural fields that don’t consider themselves as art fields. Classical art is more homogenous, established, producing one “rock star” after the other. Media art ensures the transfer between fields, e.g. between extreme pro and extreme contra copyright. Media art at its best is genuinely interested in the process of making art, rather than the art system with its legitimation hierarchies. Media art renders media culture visible and understandable in the art field.

Opening the discourse

In return, media art also no longer can confine itself to its narrow discourse and few prominent exponents. Specialized institutions recognize the need to open up their programing to a wider field of art. This becomes visible for example in festivals such as ‚transmediale‘ (Berlin) and ‚Shift‘ (Basel).“

2.2.2. Statements

The following chapter consists of important statements of interviewees, which do not feed into the countries funding description (in Chapter 2), but which have relevance to a broader discourse of media art.

Defending media art as a field / discourse

Mike Stubbs (UK): “The media art niche should stay intact, artists need this space for free experimentation and innovation outside of the art context”.

Inke Arns (Germany): “Media Art as a field offers possibilities, which do not exist elsewhere. The field is not art market-oriented: An important factor of freedom.”

Alessandro Ludovico (Italy): “What is characteristic of media art: collaboration, mutual support, solidarity. Factors not easy to find in other discourses.”

Juha Huuskonen (Finland): “Media art is its own practice and scene and therefore needs its specific funding. This opinion is widely accepted in Finland.”

Konrad Becker (Austria): “Video art used to be its own category, which was suspiciously eyeballed by the art market. Over the years, it became more and more mainstream, an increasing number of artists started using video, but without the political impact its pioneers used it for. Thus the medium video became uninteresting to those pioneers. Media art has not quite arrived in this state yet. Its tools don’t seem to lend themselves so easily to the more decorative needs of the market.”


Mike Stubbs (UK): “We need to respect how artists choose to describe themselves. Today, we observe, that the label ‘media artists’ loses its relevance for an increasing number of artists. Their priority is to be successful in the art world and make meaningful, socially relevant work. The label ‘media artist’ does not support this intention. In spite of this I am convinced, that the media art niche should stay intact, because it allows for free experimentation and innovation, which is not accessible from other fields”.

Dominik Landwehr (Switzerland): “The visual art field is often too strongly conditioned by the market. Everybody strives for the money. The field of media art may offers the possibility to stay off the negative effects of this conditioning. Perhaps media art will find its place in a critical distance to the field of the arts. Nevertheless, it is questionable if the term ‚media art‘ is still useful. Some artists consider it a disadvantage to be labeled as such. More important than the label is the quality, esthetic or social.”

Abandoning media art as a field/discourse

Natalie Magnan (France): “The utopia of being autonomous as media artists, of running seperate networks on one’s own servers, of resistance, activism and critical discourse within these networks has fallen down. Younger people use Facebook without questioning it. But in Egypt they were also able to organize a revolution through Facebook and other mainstream media. Yet the work of older media activist was precious during those times, as they provided modem access and facilitated communication with countries who shut internet down.”

Valerie Perrin (France): “For a younger generation of artists who belong to the digital natives, using media technologies is just one of many materials to use for art. It is no longer a specific discourse for them.”

Vicki Sowry (Australia): “Using new technologies does not lead to an art form in and of itself. Instead, this practice exists within all art forms.”

Per Platou (Norway): “The media art bubble is imploding. In order to be taken seriously, you should avoid using the media art label. It has become obsolete to pamper media art as a niche. It would be more helpful to have a strong statement in the visual art world, and a good link to the academic world.“

Per Platou (Norway): “You don’t have to be a media artist to do circuit bending, they do it in kindergarden”.

Eddie Berg (UK): “For media art to remain sitting on the edge of visual arts bears the danger of staying marginalized. The funding situation can be changed, if media art succeeds in negotiating a common set of goals with visual arts. For our society, media art is as significant as TV or cinema. Presenting itself in this way would carry us much further than splendid isolation.”

Media art and Institutions / Collections

Almost all interview partners mentioned, that media art is not collected at all or only very marginally. In a handful of cases, established art museums have acquired singular works. These tend to be works by already established visual artists applying electronic or digital media, than by media artists who shaped the media art discourse early on. It is acknowledged that the process of acquiring and archiving media art is still complex and burdened with impassibilites (see research project on that content matter: .

Inke Arns (Germany): “The festival is a problematic format: It keeps media art in an infantile status, where it serves for entertainment and therefore is not taken seriously by other art contexts. Artworks can often not be presented adequately in this format.”

Juha Huuskonen (Finland): “Media arts is less driven by galleries, but more by festivals instead. It has many connections to the fields of research and education, to creative industry, prototyping as well as to free non-commercial experimentation.”

Jean-Damien Collin (France): “For media arts, as for other art forms, the relevant impulse should not be to make an exhibition or to run an institution or a festival, but to have an impact.”

Eddie Berg (UK): “The degree to which an institution exerts some influence and builds its sustainability is very strongly linked to its collecting activity. Lux owns a large collection which also contains donations of entire private collections and artists oeuvres. Holland has always carefully dealt with media art heritage. Although these institutions may be small, they have an influence, because everyone makes reference to them. The fact that e.g. FACT does not have a collection weakens its influence and its legitimation. Building a collection could help to move on to another level, taking on a higher degree of responsibility for preservation and restoration of cultural heritage and therefore a much stronger sustainability. A collection also shapes the history of media art in Britain and builds connections to art-historical, social and technological academic research. A national collection of media art and the knowledge of its conservation and preservation is strongly missing in the UK.”

Inke Arns: “As long as media art is not accepted more widely, as long as traditional museum don’t take responsibility in conserving media art, a separate niche is needed.”

2.2.3. Additional factors relevant to the status of media art field


This survey did not specifically study the life cycles of media art institutions in the participating countries. These could also give some indications of the status of media art in the various countries. Probably, in the UK and in the Netherlands, media arts institutions will have to discontinue their activities. Other countries have well established media art institutions, regardless of their general funding level (for instance, Espace Multimedia Gantner in France, Ars Electronica in Austria, ZKM and HMKV in Germany). Even new institutions have been founded recently in spite of overall deteriorating funding structures.

Media art and commercial spheres

To various degrees, there are links between media art and creative industries. These go from claims to the inseperability of the two spheres, such as in Japan, to claims that there connections are at best indirect, as in Austria, Germany or Switzerland. The creative industries operate by industry development and economic management rationales. For media art, however, in many countries economic figures are no relevant factor. This may be the reason why the connection between creative industries and media art often fails.

List of questions

sent out to those experts, who accepted participating in the survey:

Media Art Funding

This study does not aim to compile a comprehensive inventory of funding structures. We are interested to know in a more general sense how media arts are currently finding financial and other support and to understand the political reasons behind the current funding situation. We do want to address the intellectual challenge of a cultural situation that is markedly different from the 1990s when many of the earlier funding programmes were developed in the spirit of digital technologies being innovative per se. How does the status of „media artistic practice“, crucially based on digital technologies and their cultural meanings, change in a phase when digital technologies become generally available and culturally normalised? How do discussions about funding policies respond to these changes?


– We consider it a given that digital technology and media use have become mainstream in our society and that they coin our very understanding of social networks, public space and exchange, information supply and many other things. Please describe, how in your perspecive the status of media arts has changed in this environment. (access to more established institutions? – better recognition in the institutional / commercial art world? …)

– Please describe the current public funding structures for media art, which you know of or have experiences with. (more funding possibilities than 5 or 10 years ago? Less? Integrated in other funding f.e. for visual arts? Which kinds of support: awards? Subsidy? Production-support? Acquisitions? Other?)

– What is the relationship between public funding for contemporary arts in general and media art/culture in particular? Or between media arts and creative industries?

– Can you recognize a cultural political strategy behind the media art funding situation in your country?

– Can you recognize a shift in cultural policy, considering that media art and digital culture are becoming more mainstream, more generally available and culturally normalized?

Desired changes

  • What do you consider positive about the current funding situation, what negative?
  • Which changes would you like to see happen in public funding?
  • What solution do you see for problems in your current funding situation?
  • Do you know of other examples of public funding which you consider positive?

3. Media Art Funding, by Countries


In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s Australian media arts had a high degree of visibility, with artists including Jill Scott, Stelarc, Paul Brown, Francesca da Rimini, Josie Starrs, Julianne Pierce, Leon Cmielewski, Rainer Linz, Troy Innocent, Paul Thomas, Patricia Piccinini, Natalie Jeremijenko amongst many others becoming recognised on the international stage. One factor for this success was the cultural policy at the time, which recognized the importance of the media arts. For example, in 1984, the Australia Council for the Arts established an Art and Technology Advisory Committee, some 10 years befor any public funding structures were established in Europe. The Art and Technology Advisory Committee led to the establishment of the Hybrid Arts Committee in 1994 (part of the Performing Arts Board), the New Media Arts Fund in 1996 (formed to support new media and hybrid arts practice across all artform areas) and, in 1998, the formal establishment of the New Media Arts Board (NMAB). Alongside this, the Australian Network for Art & Technology (ANAT) started life in 1984 as an art and technology event, Interface, developed by the Experimental Art Foundation for the Adelaide Festival of Arts. This led to a research‐based pilot project in 1985 and in 1998 was incorporated as an independent entity. In the two decades since, ANAT’s program has included residencies, emerging technology labs, professional development grants, online research tools, publications, seminars and workshops. Both the NMAB and ANAT became important sources for media arts funding. The Media Arts Board was closed in December 2004 , while ANAT continues operation until today. The reason for closing the Media Arts Board was the notion, that new technologies were no longer considered an art form in and of itself, but rather to be integrated into many different art forms. As a result, the Australia Council began supporting media art through its specific art form funds (visual arts, theatre, music, etc). To respond to the challenges presented by projects that were made up of more than one art form, they set up the Inter-Art Office in 2007 to support interdisciplinary and hybrid art projects. The Government commissioned research on creative industries that showed a close connection to media arts. This sector however does not receive specific funding
The overall amount of funding available through government does not take into account cost-of-living increases, so is in effect decreasing annually. Media art does no longer appear to be a cultural policy priority in and of itself, is has instead become a recognized part of broader arts discourse. As well as established museums, newer ones have also proven to be open to media arts in their programming – for example, the Gallery of Modern Art has hosted the Premier of Queensland’s National New Media Art Award since 2008 and the Royal Institution of Australia has shown science related art works since its establishment in 2009.

Interviewee: Vicki Sowry, Program Manager Anat, Australian Network for Art and Technology

Online Resources:;;
– Art Form Board:
– Screengrab New Media Art Award:
– Screengrab New Media Art Award:
– Inter-Arts-Office:
– Arts and creative industries:
– Arts and creative industries:
– Australian Center for moving image:


(no interview conducted).
Two sources for media art are available in the flemish part of Belgium: Vlaams Audiovisueel Fondsand (since 2002) and BAM, flemish institut for visual audiovisual and media art, which was created in 2007 from the fusion of predecessor initiatives (IBK and IAK; both founded in 2001 by the government).
We have no knowledge of the development of the funding structure.

Online Resources: –
– Initiatives in Belgium in the larger context of emerging artistic practices: Almost Cinema, Artefact, Courtisane, City Sonics, Happy New Ears, Jonctions, Transnumériques, VIA, Cimatics.


In general terms, the funding system for the arts in Canada (and particularly in the province of Québec) is well developed in comparison to the public funding system in the United States. Media arts benefit from this greatly as today there is substantially more public funding for media arts than ten years ago.
ISEA was held in Canada in 1995 and from 1997-2007, the Daniel Langlois Foundation played an important role in the establishment of media art as an specific field. These dynamics were picked up by public funding, especially in Québec. Québec thus plays a leading role in the area of media arts, with the cities of Montréal and Québec City, a large university/student culture (Montréal has four major universities with a total of over 150,000 students) and diverse funding possibilities for projects in arts, science and technology, in research and creation, as well as creative industries.
At the Federal level, The Canada Council for Arts has a media arts section For Québec residents, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Quebec has specific grants for media arts as well as for multidisciplinary arts both for artists and for organisations More recently, the CALQ has submitted policy recommendations to the Québec Minister of Culture (through the guidance of hundreds of Québec artists and organizations) for the further integration of digital technology into all funding programs and, specifically, for substantial funding in the category of „digital arts“ (arts numériques), which up till now is nested within the category of media arts which includes cinema and video projects. Another area of growth in recent years has been university based programs in „research-creation“ both at the Federal as well as provincial (Québec) levels. For example, for those artists-researchers working in Québec universities, research-creation funding (of which media art is a substantial category) is offered by the Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la société et la culture as well as through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Further possibilities are offered by Hexagram, the largest interuniversity center of media arts in Canada and one of the largest in all of North America, which supports media arts projects in the research contexts of three Québec universities, and has received generous infrastructure funds from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and from the province of Québec. The Banff center is open to media arts .
Canada has a strong focus on creative industries, namely in gaming and interactive technologies (particularly in Montréal and Vancouver). Again, in Québec, university-based funding has increased for research projects between the media arts and creative industries through the CINQ consortium
Also in the field of dissemination there are numerous initiatives in Canada through the national and provincial network of artist run centers, some of which specialize in media arts production and dissemination (,,,
While, for now, the political situation in Québec is, in general, far more liberal than the rest of the country (due to the focus on french language and culture) and arts funding for the moment appears stable, the federal situation is more precarious, given the fact that the conservative government was given a majority in the last election and has expressed its dissatisfaction in the past with the federal arts funding system. Given this caveat, however, the artistic scene has developed strongly and university-based research-creation support which aims to train the next generation of artist-researchers has been favorable over the past 6 years while increasing focus on developing strong connections with academic research, creative industries and visual arts. Overall the situation in Canada and specifically in Québec, is more heterogeneous and, at least from the outside, appears to be more favorable for media arts support, both in moral and well as financial terms.

Interviewee: Christopher Salter, PhD
Director, Hexagram Concordia Institute for Research-Creation in Media Arts and Technology; Associate Professor, Design + Computation Arts; Faculty of Fine Arts; Concordia University

Online Resources:


Text by Minna Tarka, with slight additions.

The funding for media art in Finland rests mainly upon Ministry of Education and Culture (organisations and general projects eg. web databases) and the Arts Council (projects/production support, individual working grants) and AVEK, The Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture . City and regional support for media art organisations and productions is minimal in Finland.

In 2010, there was for the first time a line in the state budget for media art organisations. The dedicated total of 180.000 € was handed by the Ministry to 3 organisations. Previously, the organisations have been funded either through committee for visual arts and through general grants for cultural projects. The breakthrough was a result from a report in 2009, whose proposals were backed up by 16 organisations working in the field. The proposal was to raise the sum up to 500.000 € but it seems this objective will be hard to achieve.

Instead of a Committee for Media Art, the Arts Council has had a Media art working group which has decided about funding for the field (see new developments below). In 2010, the working group granted a total of 170.000 € for media art. Arts Council’s State Grants for artists have been an important form of support to individual media artists, each year appr. 2-3 media artists are awarded a 1- 3- or 5-year grant.

AVEK (The Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture) supports media art productions, projects and festivals as well as more commercial oriented innovation, experimentation and prototyping. They have the best understanding of the field which is visible both in their board and the production consultant dedicated for media art. AVEK uses its share of copyright remuneration to promote audiovisual culture: cinema, video and television. The majority of the funds that AVEK distributes originate from private copying levy, eg. from blank video cassettes and blank DVDs. Due to diminshing of the sales of these media, AVEK funds are now decreasing and the government has neglected to update the system to cover new copying platforms. In 2010 AVEK supported media art project preproduction and production grants with over 330.000 In 2011-12 the allocated support will be 250.000.

Altogether the funding earmarked for media arts in Finland in 2010 was around 650.000 € and will most probably remain on this level in the coming years. Most of the funding is directed towards production and exhibition – mainly consisting of a number of small grants of plus/minus 5000 €. One third is directed towards organisations which evidently have to remain small and project-based.

Two trends in general cultural policy in particular affect the media arts field.

One is the streamlining of the Arts Council structure, where plans of joining the current 9 Committees into a few mega-committees are still being discussed. Artists and arts organisations have been able to slow down the process with unanimous criticism of the weakening of expertise in the new structure. However, the surprising decision in early 2011 was to dismantle the Media art working group and move decisions on media art to the Council’s Committee for Photography. This decision was opposed by both the Photography committee and the Media art network – who now have proposed expert group to support decision-making within the committee.

The second is the focus on cultural export in the government programmes since 2004, with several new support schemes for international showcasing of Finnish art and content. This has resulted in the schemes mostly focus on large audiences, financial returns and strictly export, excluding projects of cultural exchange. The grants for touring individual works can often be bigger than the support for organisations which however build up the basis for production and distribution of work…

Coming up is a focus on social benefits of art – arts in service of ‚fairness‘ and ‚wellness‘ in society. New support for this perspective will probably be instantiated by the new government.

There are two ongoing shifts – one tendency is to fit media art conveniently within the visual art category and the traditional art world of galleries and museums. The other shift clearly focuses on the usefulness of art – via IP exploitation and commercial, business-oriented production on the one hand and via the social benefits provided by art on the other. These shifts are of course in line with European policies.

What is omitted from these perspectives is the transdisciplinary, research & experimentation based nature of the field, the critical/experiential questioning of technology – the focus on more contextual and collaborative way of working. Most of the media artists supported by the funding schemes above fit best in the subgenre of video art/moving image single tape or installation pieces. The number of new work based on interactive / experimental technology is a bit more than half a dozen every year.

Media arts in Finland is not an unquestioned field, but the defenders of the field are being more convincing and thus successful in maintaining and partially even increasing a separate funding structure for meida arts. With Festivals such as (?) Finlands media art scene also has it own distribution system. There are well developed connections between media arts and research and the education system. The media arts scene is considered llegitimate and with an impact on culture, but it has a tendency to remain separate.

Interviewees: Minna Tarkka | m-cult centre for new media culture; Juha Huuskonen

Online Resources:


Media art as a specific community is dissolving more and more, particularly after Web 2.0. claims to independent servers and networks are being replaced by the use of mainstream media for social change. Visual artists use technologies more often, with less critical depth, a younger generation uses media and technologies without wanting to be labeled as media artists. On the other hand, some media art pioneers (f.e. Cecile Babiole) more and more are accepted by the main stream art world.
The French art scene has a certain hegemonic tendency. Besides it’s long tradition of ethnocentrisme, for a long time texts were translated into english and rarely the other way around : foreign text into french. This produced a theoretical isolation, however, this is slowly changing due to the publication of several readers and the ability of french student to read in English.

Media artists can apply for funding at DICREAM dispositif pour la création artistique multimedia, DICREAM works closely together with the centre national des arts plastiques where media artists and institutions can also apply for funding.
Newly, laboratoirs d’excellence have been founded which support innovative projects in technology and research. Here, there are generous funds, most of which go to universities. Free experimentation as in the arts do not fit into this category.
Also, regional councils Direction régionale des affaires culturelles DRAC accept media art grant requests and informally request specific expertise for their evaluation.
In 2007, the centre des arts in Enghien-les-Bains, a venue for the promotion of digital creation subsidized by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, launched a project to create a network of structures for artistic, scientific and industrial research, production, distribution and training in the area of digital creation, in France and internationally. RAN is particularly active in france.

There are no direct cuts in media arts funding. Indirectly though, reductions can be observed: The number of staff working in the cultural departmet of the state is reduced, so there is a disintegration of public service. The responsibility for cultural funding is mainly on the level of the ville/commune and the region/departement. Because additional financial responsabilites are delegated from the state to the communities without providing them with more money, cuts are effected which also regard arts funding.

On the level of media art institutions, Espace multimedia gantner founded in 1998 in Bourogne by Belfort is an exception as an institution at the periphery. It contains a exhibition space, a library and a collection. Due to the library, it obtains a sociopolitical function which is important for it’s funding. It also continues to be one of the few institutions europe-wide with a noteworthy collection and collecting activity. The funding has decreased, specifically from the ECM which was discontinued in 2008. Unfortunately, the mainstream art journalism neglect cultural activity in the periphery, including the important activities by the Espace multimedia Gantner.

Not only with the „Espace“ but also with CICV (1990-2004) and vilette numerique (2002-2006) the Territoire de Belfort has media arts activities well beyond the average of the french communities. This fact is thanks to decistion makers in politics and in the cultural department. Any personel or political changes could threaten the funding structure.

Newly, the Gaite Lyrique was opened, which explicitely has a focus in new media and networked cultures. The current artistic direction is geared more towards music and spectalcle. Due to the fact, that it is located in Paris, the Gaite Lyrice can provide more exposure to media art and better media coverage.

The opening of the Gaite Lyrique or Ars Numerica as part of the scene national in Montbeliard, the creation of RAN and prominent residencies such as the one of filature mulhouse given to media artists (Ceclie Babiole) seem to indicate a certain level acceptance of media art in maintream culture in France. On the other hand, experts consider the general understanding of contemporary arts in France as quite classic and based on painting, sculpture and installation. There is a very large gaps between the underground activities of media-labs, temp/labs etc to more visible diffusion as in the virtual exhibition au jeux de Paume, or the work done by MCD, and the work done at la Gaité Lyrique for example. The knowledge and understanding of what a specific media art approach means for culture is not wide spread.

There is evidently not enogh possibilities for experimentation without commercial or scientific interests. President Sarkozy did recognize this lack and founded a committee, which ended up supporting the projects of it’s own members with the available funds.

Interviewees: Valerie Perrin, directrice Espace multimedia gantner, Bourogne; Jean-Damien Collin, Head of Cultural development in Belfort Territory; Nathalie Magnan Professor ar ENSA Bourges; Anne-Marie Duguet Art sociologist, Professor at Universitée de Paris Panthéon-Sorbonne

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On German federal level, the only funding structure accessible to media art (as well as to contemporary art and culture) is Kulturstiftung des Bundes . It supports the Berlin-based festival transmediale as one of the five national ‚beacons‘.

In Berlin, media art projects have been supported f.e. by Hauptstadtkulturfonds (project funding). The Bundesverband Bildender KünstlerInnen BBK runs a media production center for artists, Medienwerkstatt

The Land North-Rhine Westphalia currently conducts a specific media arts policy in order to gain cultural profile. In 2010, ISEA was presented in the Ruhr Area (at that time European Cultural Capital 2010) – for the first time in Germany ever. Hartware MedienKunstVerein was established in Dortmund in 1996 and continues its activities with a high profile. Recently, HMKV succeeded in negotiating a continuous funding from the Land for three year periods. The level of funding varies according to the overall state budget, which limits continuity in the program planning. Media artists have received project support, stipends and awards in the Land NRW alongside visual artists. In addition to the renowned Nam June Paik Award specifically for media artists the Kunststiftung NRW supports media artists and organisations active in the field by providing project funding.

Interviewee: Dr. Inke Arns, artistic director of Hartware MedienKunstVerein (HMKV) Dortmund.

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Italy spends most of its public cultural funding in cultural heritage and monument protection of historical value. Only small funds go to contemporary arts in general, even less to media arts. Funding of the arts in general is strongly dependent on regional or local politicians. They can decide to give their region a specific cultural profile, like in Campania or Apulia, but this may be lost if the political winds change. In rare cases, art schools have possibilities to fund projects with small grants usually obtained together with local administrations. European funding is important for Italian initiatives, organizations have emerged who provide support with the large amount of grant writing paperwork connected to these funds.

Nationally, there are few initiatives dealing with media arts: The Share Festival in Piemont, Interferenze festival in Campania, Netmage festival in Emilia Romagna, Trento Mart, Centro per l’arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci in Tuscany, Strozzina in the palazzo Strozzi in Florence with a general contemporary arts program sometimes including new media; and few others. They do receive funding from the cities or regions of their location. On this level, funding requests from media artists and institutions can be successful, often depending on good political connections.
Private funds and initiatives play a certain role in contemporary art: Benetton Fabrica, Castello di Rivoli , Fabio Paris Gallery in Brescia with a specific focus on media art within a commercial context, Fondazione Morra in Napoli could be examples. Generally speaking, they do not accept artist proposals though.

For a young generation, the situation is quite devastating: After their degree, they have “no tracks to follow, nothing to build a career on, except their own braveness and personal ambition” (A. Ludovico). This is true not only for the arts field.

Interviewee: Alessandro Ludovico, editor of ’neural‘-magazine.

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The situation in Japan has dramatically changed in the course of this survey. On March 11th 2011 an earthquake and subsequent tsunami shattered the Japanese economy, society and culture radically. Art support systems which were in place before, are now fundamentally in question.

Some statements on the media art situation in Japan before 3.11.
In general term, the Japanese society seems somewhat more susceptible to technologies than the European or American. Technology emerged much more quickly here, and today it’s the usage which still differs.

The role of media art in Japan is to a certain degree an ambivalent one. In recent years media art became more accessible for the general public than before by “DIY communities, projects in the public spaces in the area of interaction design” (Yukiko Shikata). Frequently, media artists are integrated in commercial fields such as creative industries, which are probably more open minded in Japan than elsewhere. “The aims of media arts and creative industries or commerce are not very far apart in Japan” (Stefan Riekeles). Some artists move within a commercial world with ease, since they tend to build up their economic exsitance there. But “There are also artists who focus on their conceptual, critical investigations by staying apart from commercial world.“ (Y. Shikata)

In terms of funding, media arts are incorporated in the field of “Media Geijutsu” (including manga, animation, game and media art), defined by MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology). The promotion of these fields became a key aspect of cultural policies since 2006: Japanese Manga, animation and game became an international cultural hype, thanks to a strong financial and political support. Within “Media Geijutsu” though, media art only receives small amounts of money and experience some marginalization, because they do not function in the same way as the more commercially driven and entertainment based manga, animation and game sectors. Rather, “Media art that fundamentally includes the expression and activity beyond market needs more public funding.“ (Y. Shikata)

There are important centers for media art: Above all the YCAM (Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media), which has “perfect production facilities” (S. Riekeles) and commissions to produce important and internationally influencial media art works with residencies. Besides this and some funding programs of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, MEXT, there are very few others, Japanese media artists can apply for. More often than not, the committees who decide about support for the arts are composed of functionaries rather than art experts.

With the earthquake, obviously the situation has changed now. One of the consequences described is the information flood after the tsunami flood. With the already existing predisposition, the sheer mass of information Japanese people exposed themselves to on multiple channels was experienced as an additional challenge.
Although the importance of culture was stressed by politicians after the earthquake, arts may still experience cuts.

Yukiko Shikata: “I believe culture, especially media art is very important in a difficult situation of Japan, because it would inspire and encourage the people’s mind, and creativity – making the users to the creators, especially for the young generation, and activate mutual communications by connecting various people beyond virtual and real.

Interviewee: Yukiko Shikata, media art curator and critic based in Tokyo, Japan; Stefan Riekeles, curator based in Berlin.

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The Media Arts section in the Netherlands has a rich history of support and understanding by the Dutch Government, medialabs (Mediamatic, Steim, Submarine, V2_, Waag Society, Worm) and the sector institute eCulture Virtueel Platform will be structurally funded till 2013 by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. Other labs are supported by different art-foundations. The media-art field in the Netherlands was able to develop itself and create some sustainable and fruitfull labs in the media-art friendly climate.

This situation is about to change.

In Spring 2011, the Dutch secretary of state for Culture in the Netherlands, Halbe Zijlstra, has published his policy plan for the period 2013-2016. The budget eCulture, Architecture and Design, merged together in the creative Industry sector, is currently 17 million and will be cut by 20%. Specificly media arts programs will be discontinued. All funding bodies have integrated the earlier arrangements for media arts in their regular funding sections. For this they have put media arts specialists in their advisory boards.

In general terms, the media arts (subsumed in “eCulture” , which has as it’s sector institute) have to accept a change of policy meaning that all budgets that were available for media arts are now put into a new fund in which media arts is integrated with design and architecture. This new funding body is part of the sector called Creative Industry. Although presently (End of June 2011) the guidelines of this foudation are still being negotiated, one can expect support programes being instrumental to an economic and cultural agenda dedicated to design, media-arts and architecture. The new arts-policy demands that money that is distributed by this new funding body will no longer be available for institutional funding since the support will be project based. This means that all media-arts labs loose their institutional funding, they have to restructure themselves and become project or programme based organisations. Virtueel Platform also has to transform into a sector institute for Creative Industries together with the institute for Design (Presmsela) and Architecture (NAI – Dutch Architecture Institute).

The cuts and change in policy are due to a liberal change in the government. The new government sets new priorities and in general takes a critical position to culture which is being considered as to much dependant on the goverment, being to elitist and to much alienated from the free market principles. In general in the arts, thus also for media art, r&d and talent development, the government decided that mid and small size art organisations should be more out on the market. More classical values and institutes are being held up, while at the same time art funding for innovation is subtely moved in the direction of business development (with the creative industries-funds) or put on hold.
In this context, the arts have to come up with “a well prepared policy document to clearly position the role, importance and need of its practice in a broader social, cultural and economic context.” (A. Adriaansens) and “be more rigorous with the quality of one’s own work” (Floor van Spaendonck)
Six important Dutch media art institutions Steim, De Waag, Mediamatic, V2, NIMK, Submarine Chanel and Worm, will have to profoundly rethink their operating structure.

In the case of V2 , it will mean to operate and reorganize the income, based on project income. In the case of Virtueel Platform (the sector institute for eCulture) it means that they will become part of the new sector institut Creative Industry. For V2, this means they have to reposition themselves in more general terms. Alex Adriaansens: “We have always been on the edge of the classical distinctions between visual art, performing art, design, architecture and media practices since we are an interdisciplinary organisation. We always clearly positioned ourselves as an arts organisation with a social and cultural context even though the art world is closed and conservative in principle. We have always focussed on developing a critical art practice that also questions the arts itself and its broader role and impact on society. The proposed policy by the Minister seems to cut V2_ and the whole of Dutch eCulture at its roots (r&d, production, talent development). The involved organisations will soon come up with new models to sustain their practice, this won’t be the end of Dutch eCulture.”

The Dutch media art scene shows a very divers practice hard to grap in the classical categories, which claim to research and contribute to the transformation of society at large. Media art has a potential to diffuse into other sectors, f.e. into film. However, it does seem, “a step to early to identify media arts fully with mainstream.” (Floor van Spaendonck)

Interviewees: Floor van Spaendonk, Director of virtueel platform Amsterdam; Alex Adriaansens, director of V2 Rotterdam

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Norway has no specific media arts funding structure, but reasonably good arts funding structures, for which media artists are elegible. With the social-democratic coalision government, the Arts Council funding have been steadily increased on the level of the state since 2005. The Arts Council is responsible for the support of visual art, literature, stage art and art-and-new-technologies, amongst other things. On the level of the cities and communities, there are additional funding structures, which vary strongly from place to place in amounts of funds available as well as in the connections between committees and the local arts scenes.

The visual/media arts communities rely heavily on a national system where individual artists can apply for working grants, lasting from six months up to five years. At any given time, several hundred artists are recipients of these grants.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has an office called OCA (Office of Contemporary Art) that can give support to individuals and institutions and has residency programs.

A number of small units working in the wider field of media arts exist and are joined together in PNEK (Production Network for Electronic Art) The network connects 11 small institutions spread out over the whole country. PNEK receives annual public funding, which is used to strengthen and widen the network. Some media labs receive a more continuous funding from the ministry of culture, while others base their activities on voluntary work and/or project support. For research projects in the field of media arts, no specific grants are allotted.

In all, the funding situation remains stable. Media arts do however seek to reinvent themselves and reposition themselves in the field of art and culture and participate actively in the international discourses.

Interviewee: Per Platou, artist/curator, director of PNEK, Oslo


In Switzerland, on a national level a mayor reorganization between the duties of two important public arts funding bodies, Swiss federal office of culture and Pro Helvetia has recently taken place. The reorganization was initiated by the national parliament in an attempt to streamline the profiles of both organizations. The reorganization resulted in a new cultural law, and the preceding negotiations lead to a play of power between the two involved organizations. As a result, some areas of visual arts funding will have to be discontinued or considerably downsized.

The grand total of the money spent for culture on a national level in Switzerland remains the same after this reorganization. Due to shifts within the various sectors though the sector specifically media arts looses its funding structure sitemapping, which existed 2001-2011. Media artists will henceforth be able to apply for grants and awards together with the visual artists and the designers. There is a great awareness regarding the need to include media art experts in the arts committees in order to recognize the quality of media arts projects. Within the new cultural law, ironically for one legislation period (4 years), digital culture is a superior focal point, hence all cultural fields are encouraged to direct their attention to digital aspects.

Besides this, there are numerous funding possibilities for media artists on local levels and with private and semi-public foundations. Some of them do offer specific funding structures for Media Art or are explicitely open to funding requests from this sector, particularly Mirgros Kulturprozent and Göhner Stiftung . Generally, media artists apply with other artists for funding.

What can be observed frequently in Switzerland is, that reasonable funds for supporting the arts do exist, but these are distributed in quite conventional ways without innovative claim. “The funders desideratum for invention is quite small.” (Dominik Landwehr)

The loss of the sitemapping funding system in Switzerland and the downscaling of the Swiss federal office of culture is raising many questions for the media art scenes. Media art is considered sufficiently developed to compete in the visual arts field, beyond the need for special treatment. Meanwhile, the established art museums are still quite hesitant in integrating media art in their exhibition program and in acquiring media art for their collection – a handful of exceptions excluded. To a certain extend, media technologies increasingly penetrate swiss society and culture at large, but those who discovered and developed their artistic potential remain marginal figures in culture.

Several public and private funders of art and culture (including media art) are currently researching and discussion strategies for the recovery or continuation of funding possibilities for media arts. They are in a possition to effect changes on a national level.

Interviewees: Aurelia Müller, media art project leader at the swiss federal office of culture Bern; Dominik Landwehr, director of the department science and future of Migros Kulturprozent in Zürich

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In April 2011, the Arts Council England announced drastic changes in arts funding. The Regularly Funded Organisations Programm (RFO, ) is discontinued and replaced by the National Portfolio of Organisations (NPO, ). The change consisted in funding cuts of a large number of small arts institutions across the country, who often have thrived from the dynamics of few individuals and who have build institutional models and project activities for smaller communities, but on a fragile economic basis. The British policy maker decided to completely withdraw or substantially reduce funds from 1’480 small institutions over a period of two years.
At least 16 media arts organizations belong to the long list of institutions, festivals and initiatives, which will not receive funding any more, and which also cannot apply for funding any more. Others had to take cuts, such as Fact Liverpool (11%), which is notably the only institution in Britain promoting media art.

The conservative government took the decision to concentrate the funding in structures in institutions with a supposedly a higher degree of sustainability, to therefore limit risks regarding business models, and to prioritize on creative industries above the arts.
The cuts do regard all fields of culture, but the smaller institutions – such as they exist often in media arts – suffer from it most. The UK film council f.e. has been abolished and their fund are henceforth administered by the British Film Institute

The reasons which are given for these cuts are the national debts. Spending has to be reduced overall by 2.5%, taxes have to be raised. The arts have to take a total of 28% cuts, still resulting in a comparatively small amount, in proportion to the gross depts..

For media artists, on the other hand there are and will still be possibilities to apply production grants, together with visual artists. These will become more competitive, but they are not crossed out. The committees which decide about funding include media arts experts. Additionally, there are awards, for which media artists are also elegible.

In this situation, strategies of survival include an open letter to the policy makers: which has been signed by some 500 people. The media arts community, which has a tendency to be rather fragmented, for this letter joined up and succeded in amplifying their voice.

Mike Stubbs outlines the following strategy for FACT (the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), Liverpool “We have to persuade people and industries, that art is innovation.” Media arts should use it’s possibilities to strengthen their connections to the creative industries and also recongnise that much of media arts uniqueness has been assimilaited into contemporary viusal arts practice. Media art has not become a part of the mainstream arts discours yet. There is also convincing to be done that media art is an important way of making art. Also in the UK the experience is made, that artists, especially younger generations, don’t want ot be labeled media artists. Their choices should be respected just as much as those of the artists who still identify with this field. It is important to retain, conserve and archive new media and media art practice in much the same way as any other part of contemporary art for the future. This is why for FACT the fist priority is to make excellent exhibitions for a broad audience. It may become more and more important to prove, that media art does not want to re-invent an elitist culture, but that it’s knowledge lies everywhere. Democratising media production means that new forms of interdisciplineray collaboration and partnerships are essential.“

Eddie Berg: “The media art scene has to come up with a coherent set of arguments for their long term goals in terms of values, infrastucture, collection etc.”

Interviewees: Mike Stubbs, director of fact Liverpool; Eddie Berg, director of the british film institute in London

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The USA traditionally has scarce public funding for the arts in general and especially directly to artists. For media art there is no exception form this rule. Theoretically, media art is fundable by most existing funding mechanisms. Steve Dietz:

“There are probably fewer dedicated opportunities for public funding than 5 years ago, but there is an increasing acceptance of computational and networked media in any/all categories of art funding, although the actual ‚pay off‘ in increased support of such work remains unclear, perhaps due to the juries for such integrated approaches and a lingering hesitance to valorize such works in competition with painting or video or installation art. Still! There is an increasing amount of support in presentation/production support, but this still remains a relatively small percentage of total budget needs. Acquisitions do not really register.”

The competence and/or commitment of committee members in understanding media art seems questionable, judging by examples of denying support to significant art projects and accomplished media artists. Additionally, „creative industries“ are more and more prioritized over the arts.

A further observation by Dietz regarding the acceptance of media art in mainstream art discourse:

“In the U.S., while there are encouraging signs of institutional commitment, such as the Cory Arcangel Pro Tools exhibition at the Whitney (, these remain the exception and not the rule. Many institutions are adding a “media” curator, but the person’s knowledge of and commitment to computational and networked media is often negligible. “Innovation” funding,a significant funding area in the past decade, has moved from computational and networked media to both green technologies and an expanded definition of “creativity,” which shamelessly leverages “crowd sourcing” ideas to support banal ideas or are simply a way of promoting industrial creativity in place of art.”

Interviewee: Steve Dietz, New Media Curator

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This survey was commissioned by Les Jardins des Pilotes and co-sponsored by Institute for Cultural Studies in the Arts ICS of the Zurich University of the Arts. Conducted by Annette Schindler. Many thanks to all interview partners who have contributed so generously!

If you want to comment on or add to this survey, please, write to ab (at) with your remarks, or for wiki-access.

The association Les Jardins des Pilotes is dedicated to the presentation and production of outstanding pieces of art. It was founded in 2008 and is represented by Andreas Broeckmann and Stefan Riekeles.