Montag, 26. Oktober 2020

Some Considerations Concerning Judging Panels In Art Competitions

Recently I had the chance to talk to Asmita Duranjaya, who has got some LEA grants (Linden Endowment For The Arts) in Second Life as an artist and has also organised as a host around 10 art-competitions with participation of around 20 artists in the virtual world. I was specifically interested in getting to know, how the judgement process of a jury can made transparent and fair. Asmita had clear a clear imagination according to her experiences and I want to conclude that as follows:

1. To judge art will never be 100% fair or transparent, because too many individual, even emotional aspects and backgrounds will play a role.

2. Nevertheless it is in Asmita's eyes possible to make the judgement process transparent and fair in the sense that every applicant is taken for serious and is getting the same energetic attention from the judgement panel.

3. The judgement panel should consist of around 10 persons with a relation to art. They can be experienced artists, who had a grant already themselves or who have a certain reputation according to the media. They can be curators with a wide view on the artist scene in virtual worlds and they can be collectors of art with special interests, also art bloggers or art researchers. The more different the panel is, the better.

4. These judges will get a list of criteria and will give points for each criterium. There is a tool, called art grader in Second Life, which helps to automatize this process. The criteria have to be discussed in advance by the hosts of the event, for example the new SLEA hosts Tansee and Hannington. It would be of help, if the applicants could get the list in advance too, to have an orientation.

5. All 10 judges give points for each criterium of the list, let's say there are 10 criteria, then 10 times points, maybe from 1 to 5 (this is automatized in the SL tool). They add the points on the end and get a number of points for the specific application or applicant.

6. Then all the results of the panel members are added and that would be the final number for the applicant. The final numbers show very clearly the eligible applicants.

7. This process should be published for the applicants, so that they can find out, why they haven't been the first on the list and maybe even to start a re-thinking process, what they could improve for the next application. This is important, because otherwise there will be complaints due to intransparency.

8. It goes without saying that panel members cannot get grants for the specific round. And it would be wise to change the panel group before a new round will start. I think it makes a lot of sense to let the former winners of grants be in the judgement position the next time to change the angle of their view and to get a feeling for both sides of the coin. 

9. The SLEA hosts should not step into the same trap of the LEA commission concerning transparency. But I think in general, the LEA commission has worked according to these features, but did not publish the process, which was leading to an imagination of intransparency. It was in general not useful, that the commission remained the same over the many years. This was leading to signs of fatigue for the commission members, who had never the chance to apply for a grant themselves.

Fairness and transparency have to be the most important and obligatory principles of art competitions and decisions. No one should ever take over a dictatorial role to judge alone, who is eligible and who is not. A fair system of distributing points for relevant criteria is a must and should be communicated to the applicants for the purpose of transparency. These are basic ethics of democracy. Here are my considerations, based on longterm experience in about 10 art competitions, organised events and observing efforts all over the grid:

I cannot see this type of fairness in the new SLEA organisation, which wants to be a representation for the arts in SL, but which depends in the moment just on ONE person. If I look at the result of the dictatory judgement, I am not able to understand, how people, who are mainly circulating around themselves to feed their egos, did not contribute something substantial to the art community over the years and have even a huge financial background in RL to sponsor their own sim,  can get a full free sim without neighbours for 4 months and our sim community with 15 artists, most of them art professionals in RL and struggling with their existence because of covid 19, are not eligible to get a full sim for 3 months??? Is that the ethics of SLEA, which wants to be a representation of the arts in Second Life? If so, then I have my doubts about the whole system, which SL represents. I leave.

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