My thoughts on the closing of Linden Endowment of the Arts (LEA)…
I have been asked by various people in Second Life on how I feel about the LEA sims closing and how it impacts art. I wondered why I was even getting such ims and questions, but it hit me that people remembered that I was on the LEA Advisory Committee and I have a big interest in the arts in Second Life, first with Kultivate and I am an artist in both worlds.
So here are thoughts which are all mine and no one else’s:
How do I feel about LEA closing?
I really do not feel anything to be honest, because I left the advisory committee and while I am grateful to have served in that capacity, plus I was awarded a grant of my own when I first started as an artist in Second Life, I have thought little to next about LEA since then.
But art will disappear without LEA!
I have been told this and this is further from the truth. There are literally hundreds of galleries in Second Life that are active and thriving. People will always find a way to create they do not need the LEA sims to display their artwork. Of course for 3D artists and community projects this may be huge setback to them, but there are options (more later).
So what about 3D art and community projects?
It is no secret that tier in Second Life is still very expensive, despite the recent cuts. 225 usd a month for a sim, is still very expensive for most to afford. The LEA helped of course because if you were awarded a grant you were given usage of a sim for either 3 months or 6 months for free. But not having these sims does not mean you cannot build your 3D art projects. Before I go on let me explain something a few things:
First being on the advisory committee for LEA, I saw a great deal of favoritism and nepotism. The same few artists were given 3 to 6 month grants over and over. Despite it being a policy that an artist could only be awarded a grant once a year’s period. In fact there is one artist who I will not name, who literally had a sim 2 years in a row.
During some of the committee meetings, it was stated that this rule was being broken because we simply did not have enough quality applicants. This is a phrase I take issue with: quality applicants. The old saying is true: “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” The same goes for art. What you may consider art, I may not and vice versa. And this lies the biggest issue with a project like LEA that is ran by residents in Second Life. No one could agree on what was considered art. Some on the committee only wanted artists who had a long history of real life exhibitions and a long real life art cv (not many of those in Second Life), while some only wanted Second Life based artists.
A few committee members believed we should just simply let people have a 3 month grant to see what they can do and if they are using the grant in a positive way then offer them a 6 month grant. Lastly some only wanted repeat LEA artists to have grants.
Of course toss in nepotism and favoritism and you had a mess. Lost in all of this of course were those Second Life 3D artists and community projects that did not fit any of the categories or were deemed not good enough for an LEA grant.
With such an attitude the entire community probably missed out on some great art and community projects that were never given a chance. So back to the original topic, while the cost of leasing or purchasing a sim, may hamper some 3D art and community projects, the way the LEA was ran, this was occurring anyways, even with free sims.
So what should a 3D art and/or community project do?
If you really want to build your 3D art and/or community project, seek sponsors. Talk to land barons to see if you can occupy a sim for a short period of time. Hold fundraisers, or save up real life cash to pour into Second Life or speak to friends and/or family in both worlds to realize your dreams. Also keep in mind that the cost of a non profit sim is cheaper than a regular Second Life sim, so if you are seeking this route, you may qualify for this.
And if you have to, get a small parcel of land. Ask yourself if you need an entire sim? While it is nice to have, with prim bonuses could you in theory utilize half a sim or a quarter sim? And ask yourself if your project is a vanity project for yourself or simply something you want to do? Does your project add value to the Second Life community. Now this is a hard one, because you are being asked to evaluate yourself and the goals of your project. If you have had a LEA grant in the past, was it successful? Did many people visit the project? Did you get positive feedback? Or was it an awesome build that sat empty on one of the LEA sims for 6 months, that was forgotten about once the opening occurred?
But Linden Labs should support the arts, right?
I agree that Linden Labs should support the arts, but I am biased. There are plenty of other areas in Second Life that I am sure someone will say needs supporting: merchants, sim owners, venue owners, live musicians, role play sims and communities, etc.. the list is endless. Linden Labs is the provider of Second Life, they are in theory a hosting company as they host sims and other services that we use on a routine basis. They are a privately held corporation and are under no obligation to offer free sims or anything to anyone.
This may sound harsh but how many other companies that you frequent on a daily or weekly bases also support the arts? How many other companies that you know of are giving away free items? 30 sims times 225 (current sim price) is 6,750 USD a year for Linden Labs, when sims were at their peak, the cost was over 10,000 USD per year and I am not factoring in the sim setup cost or other fees they make. Of course one will say they can easily afford this and I am sure they can, but end of the day it is up to them what they spend their money on.
If Linden Labs brought LEA back, how should they structure it?
I have been asked this too numerous times and my answer is this:
- First and foremost any new LEA has to have a Linden employee involved. Whether it is a full time Linden or a mole, someone has to be involved and why? Because if you do not have someone from the Lab leading the committee then you will end up with the very same things that killed LEA: nepotism, favoritism, a lack of disregard for the artists, and disagreements on what exactly is art.
- Do not have a resident ran committee: this is to prevent the nepotism, favoritism, and lack of disregard for artists. I have participated in the Second LIfe Birthday since 2013 and I will say that this year was the best because you had people who actually behaved themselves in chat and you were treated like an adult by the moles. This is because when someone sees that blue chat in a group in Second Life, they know it means someone from LL or someone who is on the payroll, so the respect will be greater.
- Utilize a detailed application process: this is important to determine if a person really wants a grant. The applicant should provide a timeline of their project, a detailed description of the project, and describe how the project is of artistic value. If a person takes the time to write detailed responses then they are dedicated and should be given a chance.
- Have shorter grants: People’s attention spans are not that long. An artist should not take months on end to build their exhibition. It should be 4 weeks to build then 2 months to exhibit. You also do not need 30 sims, this dilutes the grant process in a way, plus artists will compete to get promotions and marketing of their projects. 5 sims should be more than enough.
- How can residents fit in? By having mentors who can help a prospective applicant through the process of applying for a grant to help the artist market and promote their project. This is a way that residents can still be involved but are not actually running the overall program. Having mentors to greet new artists and do some of the sim maintenance such as estate management, would work perfectly. You also would not need a large committee to do this and potential volunteers should be vetted and made to apply for such positions
Well those are my thoughts. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop me a line in Second Life:
John Briann (johannes1977 Resident) in Second Life