The announcement of the LEA project closure has alienated those who, for various reasons, work in the SL artistic field.
I tried to understand the reasons for this bitterness, what went wrong in the LEA project, and what the artists expect from a new one.
To do this, I asked the question in my group dedicated to art and artists on Facebook, named “Art and Culture in Virtual Worlds Community.”
Exciting answers emerged that made me think about different aspects.
In this article, I want to talk about the LEA project, what it was, its criticisms, and the expectations that the community has for the future.
The LEA project
The original project involved a collaboration between some SL members and LL. The praiseworthy initiative started from some passionate art people and LL itself. The result of this collaboration was the management of 29 regions. Nine called CORE and destined to rapid projects, with short residence time, and 20 areas intended for the Artists In Residence (AIR), that hosted longer duration projects (up to at six months).
The statute highlighted the artists’ ideas of hospitality and collaboration with the gallery owners. Significant projects that have worked very well for a long time.
What went wrong
Then later, something has changed. The presence in the LEA Committee of bothering people added some Committee members had abandoned the project. Plus the tendency not to be accountable to the community for the decisions taken by the Committee has given the impression of a closed group, whose decisions seemed inscrutable.
Even the official LEA project website seemed to have been poorly managed from a communicative point of view. It did not allow people to be aware of ongoing initiatives and installations.
The weaknesses of the LEA project have emerged very well from my conversation with Roxy Gellar, a very active user in the relevant LEA conversations on Facebook.
Here is our conversation:
Oema: What do you think about LEA closing? Honestly, please.
Roxy Gellar: Closing LEA isn’t necessary, going that far goes to show just how distant from the community the volunteers managing LEA became, through ego and control issues. They were removed from the community and accountability.
That said, Eliana (Oema’s real name), it doesn’t have to stay that way. I’ve suggested quarterly “town hall” meetings open to all during which ideas could be discussed, perhaps a vote was taken on a policy if say, 2/3rds of the inworld group are present. If really pro-active? Survey Monkey votes could be an option. Transparency and accountability should be a part of the foundation for a possible revival of LEA.
Besides, shorter periods for volunteers on the board as well as for artists in residency. Again I suggest four months turnovers. Board member/volunteers and artists both could go on the bottom of a volunteer list that is kept open and growing. Fresh blood and shorter terms would help prevent things from going stale and also prevent egos from becoming unresponsive to the greater community.
Oema: true. What do you think about the LEA 2.0 project? Can be a solution? Or you think more can be done?
Roxy Gellar: I think if they revamp the idea towards less authoritative management and more community involvement, it might be a good thing. On the other hand? It could be that SL has had its day, hopefully not the case. If an active community involved in actually maintaining art in virtual reality isn’t possible? At least we still can enjoy the Mavericks who largely work independently in SL.
Oema: excuse ignorance, who are the Mavericks?
Roxy Gellar: Cherry Manga for one. And although they may have participated in LEA, Byrn Oh continues far beyond, Nina Camplin (no longer in virtual reality) could perhaps be courted, Kimeu Korg who I’ve largely seen outside of SL, Silas Merlin. I’d also try to incorporate TheEye Gallery, Diotima, among others.
Come to think of it, if six to eight regions were supplied to galleries to manage it could provide additional support and lessen the burden on a LEA volunteer board. On a rotation basis as well.
I believe Roxy has highlighted two important points:
- The LEA project failure may be due to the lack of involvement of the art community and to “keeping to oneself” the project and its choices;
- LEA could close an era that has run its course. If there is a new project, it is important that the committee is at the service of the art community and not aimed at its ego.
What the art community expects from a new project
I believe the art community expects to be heard and involved in decisions.
This aspect is possible above all through a rotation of the committee members.
Jonesy Bewohner explains it well:
I think those who are on the LEA staff should have at most a 1 year stint. That’s it. Every January 1st an entire new staff is elected. Those who were on staff before can remain as volunteers, but if you were elected before you cannot be re-elected again.
Also, Maria Duna Gant is clear:
I read the comments and I agree with many of them. The “committee” led by the LEA should not be perpetuated for years. LEA should be a participatory entity. All of us who work for years with virtual art are likely to be able to comment or participate in the project. Artists (all kinds of artists, 3D, photographers, musicians etc) gallery owners, bloggers, virtual art collectors. We have ALL helped virtual art remain in SL. Therefore, I think it would be very important to listen to all who had an opinion and choose among them the representatives of the LEA, and above all, for a limited time.
About her proposal:
My proposal, more concrete, for a future LEA is:
Invite ALL who have collaborated with virtual art during these years (I repeat, artists of all kinds of arts, bloggers, gallery owners, collectors)
When the group has a sufficiently large number of participants to be representative of the SL art world, ask all of them to voluntarily introduce themselves to those who would like to be part of the LEA work team.
If there is a larger number of candidates than the positions to be filled, take a vote (one vote per avatar) only open to the participants of the group, to choose which people would be in the working group.
My ideas and proposals
By now, I have been dedicating myself for several years to articles and videos about artistic events in SL. I believe that one of the essential aspects of a new project similar to LEA is communication.
In addition to inviting artists, being available, helping them in what is needed, it is essential to write and document, perhaps through videos, the artistic installations hosted. This activity will have the double positive effect of paying tribute to the artists and documenting the work carried out over time (which justifies the collaboration between LL and the artistic community).
I believe in particular that:
- One month is enough to prepare the installation; you can always agree on more extended periods, if necessary, with each artist;
- A month is more than enough for the show. A more prolonged period is useless because the visits begin to diminish;
- It is essential to ask the artist to be original and not to propose copy-installations of others already made;
- The creation of a professional site, rich in videos and content, is essential. The artists themselves could be given a voice, through interviews, surveys, etc .;
- Listen to the art community that expresses itself mainly on Facebook and the official SL page;
- Flexibility, or ability to quickly change one’s ideas to the needs of the artists;
- Advertising and promotion: the committee should take responsibility for promoting the installations, as well as the artists it hosts. Once again, communication is an important aspect.
The LEA 2.0 initiative
It was born from the idea of Tansee Trillium who wants to collect ideas and suggestions for a new project to be presented to the LL.
To send your suggestions to Tansee, go to LEA 2, where a box for ideas is.
Ask LL to join the new committee
If you want to present your ideas directly to LL asking to be part of the new committee, write to firstname.lastname@example.org, to the attention of Derrick and Patch Linden.
I believe a project similar to LEA should be having a Linden employee as a supervisor, to prevent the committee from being used to satisfy its ego.
Periodic rotation of members is also essential.
I gave my availability to the LL for the realization of a new project. I hope that many do the same.