We are searching for arts institutions around the world that proclaim some form of ethos. This may be a clearly defined ethos (clearly labeled as such) or it may be communicated in other terms; mission statement, etc. Some institutions set out to define their identity through architecture, some succeed and others fail. Then there are institutions that are integrated into a wider institution (University, museum, etc) and may struggle to internally define themselves, let alone project an ethos out to the world. Then again, should an ethos be discrete, does it become something other when broadcast?
Ewb is also keen to find institutions that don’t ‘have an ethos’, or rather have not yet recognized that they already have the constituent elements of an ethos, or perhaps do not want to have one. We would facilitate a series of conversations with the appropriate (or interested) personnel to identify and reveal their ethos.
Is ethos enough, in of itself; is it still viable in todays increasingly market driven world? Can an ethos be shaped by pragmatic necessities, or does that corrupt it? Can you invent an ethos today, or do they have to be inherited, from history?
What is an ethos?
Chambers Dictionary definition; ‘the fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group; dominant assumptions of a people’.
For those institutions that have articulated their ethos, we wonder what their hopes are for that ethos today? Primarily an institution’s ethos is simply seen as a set of principles that they proclaim important; to be held up and lived by. But are there institutions (or groups) that want their ethos to be a buffer; to be an antidote to perceived bureaucracy – micro management, market and labour forces, funding restraints, or simply the expedient pragmatics of just getting the job done.
Have we abandoned ethos today, are they behind us? Does it vary across the world, are there still strong holds, are they still found in…mainland Europe, Asia or South America. Our intention is to find out; to understand what other conditions play a part in creating fertile ground for an ethos to flourish.