LEA: more on the closure, and a move to save it

Linden Endowment for the Arts: Another World, May 2017

Following my post on the forthcoming closure of the Linden Endowments for the Art (see: Linden Endowment for the Arts to officially close), committee member JMB (Jo) Balogh posted a personal statement on the closure to Facebook.

As I’m not active in any capacity on that platform, Jo subsequently sent me a copy of her comments via note card, and since I have received numerous questions both in IM and via Twitter, etc., on why the LEA might be closing, I sought Jo’s permission to reprint her thoughts below.

At the same time, and for interested parties, there is a new in-world group for those would would like to see the LEA’s work continue into the future in some manner.

Jo’s Comments on the LEA’s Closure

Again, please note, as Jo states, these are her views on the LEA closure, rather than any form of official statement on the matter; nor do they represent the views of other committee memebers. Nevertheless, they may help shed some light on things.

This is a personal statement, not on behalf of the committee, just my point of view.

For quite a while it was obvious to the Committee that the LEA program as such was slowly dying. Applications for grants were way down and there were complaints that LEA had become boring and predictable. The committee had shrunk in numbers and giving up the right to apply for a grant made becoming a member a non starter for many good people. We spend months discussing it amongst ourselves and in meetings with LL. We concluded that it was not fixable within the current framework and that the only way forward was to step down and let a new group of people with new innovative ideas take it forward. Basically for LEA version II to be started from scratch again, just as it was in 2010. So that’s what we did. We stepped down and left it with LL.

So this is where it stands. I’m sure that LL would be happy to provide the regions again if some of you can come up with a solid proposal for promoting the Arts in Second Life and be willing to run it because it is takes work, a lot of work, trust me on that. It’s a labour of love because it is not paid work. In those years since 2010 Art in SL has changed dramatically and will continue to do so. Go for it! Make it happen.

JMB Balogh (Jo Balogh)

Linden Endowment for the Arts: Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor, April 2016

The New In-World Group Seeking a Continuance of the LEA’s Work

Potentially (but not necessarily) as a result of Jo’s comments, a new in-world group has started, called LEA 2.0 The New Future~ SAVE LEA! Which can be joined by visiting the group join boxes at LEA 5 (up until the end of August 2019, at least).

Founded by artists Tansee Resident and Riannah Avora, the function of the group is described as:

Join Group to SAVE The LEA Sandbox, AIR grants, Core grants and the future of SL Virtual Art and Creativity. Be Proactive. This is an opportunity for “Positive” voices to be heard and be a part of the continuing growth and innovation of virtual art and creativity at LEA with dignified and equal respect to all concerned artists.

Please Be specific with your suggestions. Offer reasonable solutions.

Suggestions can be sent to either Tansee or Riannah in-world or dropped into the green boxes placed on LEA 5 (again, at least until the end of August 2019). In an introductory note card, Tansee adds:

Be Proactive & Positive. Avoid Negativity. Write your suggestions and observations on a note card. Be specific. Be respectful. Offer realistic solutions and explanations why you think something will work and how you envision it working. We have 2 weeks to compile input & present to LL. The plan then is to have a meeting at LEA Theatre.

So, if you wish to contribute ideas of a realistic and positive nature for the future of the LEA – or some next generation LEA – now is the chance to do so.

Linden Endowment for the Arts – Love, Henry, July 2015

For my part, I would simply suggest the following regarding an future organisation akin to the LEA:

  • Keep things simple, keep them open. One of the long-running critiques concerning the LEA was its star-chamber like nature. Meetings were largely closed-door affairs, the by-laws tended to discourage guests  rather than welcome them (with some understandable reasons for doing so); the grant selection process came to be seen (and not entirely fairly) as biased in favouritism; the blog / website never really reported on committee activities, furthering perceptions that it was all somehow secretive, etc.
  • Revisit the AIR grants: these were set-up at a time when arts installations had to be largely built and scripted by hand, making them intensive builds. Times have changed, and as more recent years have shown, installations can be developed using prefabricated mesh elements that can be used in a transformational manner, rather than being built from scratch. So, are 6-month grants actually still required? Could they be reduced somewhat to allow a greater range of expression through a year? Need they all aligned, starting and finishing on the same dates twice a year, or could they be set to operate on a more rolling-style basis with smaller groups of them overlapping with start / end dates? Is 20 AIR regions actually too much to be properly managed, and would a smaller number be preferable?
  • Utilise outreach and engagement. This loops back to the first bullet point in some respects. For assorted reasons, it is not unfair to say the LEA often tended to be regarded as being “apart from”, rather than “a part of” the broader diversity of arts and expressionism in Second Life. Better engagement with the broader arts information groups (e.g. SL Art, Cercle Fafner, to name two of the more prominent groups) would therefore perhaps be beneficial.

There is a lot more on specifics that will likely need to be looked into – up to, and including, I would suggest – the Lab’s own involvement in any LEA-like organisation (and their willingness to be perhaps be more involved than has in the past been the case; but then, this is the Linden Endowment for the Arts – at least for the time being). However, I offer these points as more generic points for possible discussion, if deemed relevant.

Should you have ideas of your own, then please – as noted – contact Tansee and Riannah, or drop your feedback into the green boxes on LEA 5 while they are available; and if you’re interested in keeping track of what might come of this move, join the in-world group.

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10 thoughts on “LEA: more on the closure, and a move to save it

  1. I think the most important thing is NOT to just continue the program as it was. Create something better, something new and innovative and more inclusive. What about music programs, dance performance, Arts that no one has thought to include before? Although dance had crept into LEA over the past few years and one music program as I recall. When I joined the committee almost five years ago the set up was pretty much defined and at that time it worked well. 50 plus applicants for 20 sims was healthy. For whatever reason that declined so that for the last AIR round that we ran, Round 15 we had 21 applicants for 20 sims. Plus we had the 9 core sims to administer, 29 sims in all to fill. A smaller program with fewer sims makes much more sense in today’s climate. It’s sad to see it end but I certainly hope Tansee and others who become involved can come up with a great new program which will be a great success.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very much agreed on not trying to continue with the same formula or even maintaining the same number of regions, which can become unmanageable, I would suspect (and both of which I tried to hint towards in my comments around the AIR grants). Also very much agree on being more inclusive on all forms of artistic expression.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this Inara! There’s a new thread in the General Discussion Forum of the SL forums that takes your post as a starting point for a discussion of new ideas for ways in which LEA 2.0, or some other successor, might best be structured and constituted.

    Although only a few forumites are directly engaged with the arts in Second Life, they do represent a pretty broad cross-section of those whom the arts community needs to engage, and I know, too, that there are some there who have given this issue serious thought. Hopefully, the community there will have some useful contributions to make,

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  3. Thank you so much for getting this out there! Tansee and I are working very hard on this any help that any of you can provide would be greatly appreciated. If you have any input at all, do not hesitate to contact me inworld.

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    1. Hi Riannah!

      You’re welcome – Tansee actually has two or three n/cards from me, and I understand core ideas from the forum discussion thread have also been forwarded. I’ve also spoken to Tansee about how I might be able to help out going forward, if it’s of use 🙂 .

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  4. Just wanted to say Second Life would be so much the poorer without LEA sims or something similar and perhaps improved. Don’t think we realise what we have until we are in danger of loosing it. I, for one, have thought for a long time I hadnt the skills to showcase what i do in sl
    and would now say, having done it, for goodness sake give it a go! It’s amazing fun .. that’s if we get to keep our LEA sims in some form or other.

    Having said that, not all know of LEA sims and what happens there. My partner 1Earthling Rang has dropped a nc to say much, much more could be done to make people aware of the fascility and has given examples of how this could be done going forward.

    Many thanks to Tansee and Riannah for carring this movement to save LEA very much appreciated indeed x

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