Summary by Adam Rakestraw
To build off the prior assignments, the gift we are hypothetically giving to Renée Steenbergen’s is reflected in her own quote ”If we want to develop a culture of giving for art in this country, we first need to develop a culture of asking.” It is in this notion of changing culture, particularly in the arts, that we are concerned with in our gift. The gift itself, is of a framed copy of Renee’s book, “de Nieuwe Mecenas,” however the book cover will be seen as a blank canvas with art of it from an artist her research has benefited. To give a copy of her own book with art on the cover allows for reflection for Renee’s in her own work as well for us as a group exemplifies Renee as the researcher, for our fieldwork was mainly focused on; her, her work, and the outcome of her research. We think this artifact does symbolizes Mauss’ words of the “mutual interests” in that at the heart of our relationship with Renee the outcome of “mutual satisfaction” was the symposium, “Day of Arts Philanthropy“. This symposium was the culmination and the last of our experience with Renee. The symposium too, brought together several researchers in arts philanthropy to share ideas in the field and the money raised for attendance cost and book sales went toward funding Renée’s own research.
You can find a review of the symposium on our blog site for further information, but ultimately we believe “De Nieuwe Mecenas,” with beneficiary art tells a story about our ethnographic engagement with Renee and the field project. This story is of learning a culture that is being set up around art and art maintenance through researchers such as Renee. Whom, we generally feel are true advocates of the arts and of art preservation, which links back to our gift idea. For our group believes the world is perpetuating Neoliberal structures and policy, especially in state funding, and that now more than ever it is important for advocates for the arts in society.
Special thanks to Renée Steenbergen for the semester and experience.