Director of ProChile Explains the New Government Policy in the Field of Visual Arts
Chile is not just a South American country with diverse, impressive landscapes, rich in copper, wine, seafood and fresh fruit. It is also the birthplace of great poets such as winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral, and today it is the origin of a generation of artists who are giving the world something to talk about in film, animation, music and architecture, as well as other creative fields.
For over a decade, the government of Chile has understood the importance of making Chile known as a country that does more than produce raw materials. Through its export promotion bureau, ProChile, it is carrying out a series of actions to bring its value-added goods and services to foreign markets. Its director, Alejandro Buvinic, highlights that it is supporting the internationalization of Chile's creative economies -including visual arts- on the understanding that this sector, together with its contribution to Chile's economic growth, raises the image of Chile in the world.
-Why has the government decided to support the international dissemination of Chilean visual arts?
ProChile, an entity that falls under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has been working for two decades to support the internationalization of different sectors of the country's creative industries. Since 1997, it has provided ongoing support for Chilean film, with increasing support from industry representatives and other government entities, such as the National Council for Culture and the Arts.
Over the last few years, this initiative has also supported the fields of publishing, music, video games, animation, graphic narrative, contemporary crafts, scenic arts and visual arts, among other creative fields, which have demonstrated that their product is exportable with high added value, contributing 2.2% of the country's GDP and helping to disseminate our national identity.
In the specific case of visual arts, we have confirmed that Chile has consummate artists who sell their work at very good prices in international auctions, and has large numbers of contemporary artists with potentially exportable work, including paintings on canvas, cardboard, paper or any other type of medium, with oil, acrylic, pencil, carbon, ink, watercolour and tempera applications, with no limitations to their artistic creations, as well as collages, sculptures, engravings and photography, among other formats.
-What specific actions has ProChile undertaken to achieve this objective?
Since 2007, we have supported the development of different activities to promote the internationalization of this industry, which include an initial study that enabled us to identify the state of the national industry and the products with the greatest export potential, as well as the organization of missions for Chilean artists to participate in thematic fairs in Mexico, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires. Soon after, we began to support the Ch.ACO Fair, as the primary space dedicated to the circulation of national art and to getting Chile’s name into international art circles, given the large number of curators, museum directors and collectors who visit the fair each year.
Alongside this, we have encouraged representatives of the sector to join forces and work in a coordinated manner with a clearly defined spokesperson. This resulted in the formation of the Association of Contemporary Art Galleries (AGAC), and soon after we began to work on the creation of the sector brand SISMICA, designed to carry out a joint international positioning strategy between the public and private spheres.
-Why was the decision made to support a brand that groups together Chilean contemporary art?
At ProChile, we believe that one of the key aspects behind positioning and valuing companies within the same sector is association, backed by Chile's image as a serious and reliable country, given that this helps them strengthen their products or services internationally. This is why we have a Sector Brands programme, which is a joint effort between the public and private sector to emphasize the attributes of the industry as a whole, beyond the individual specificities and differences of each company or artist.
-How did this sector brand project come about?
In 2015, after a joint effort between the public and private sector, AGAC joined forces with the Association of Contemporary Art United (ACA), Ch.ACO Fair, and publishing houses Metales Pesados and D21, and presented their project to the Council of Sector Brands.
This council approved the first stage of the project, which involved the brand design based on studies that identified the features and attributes that set this sector apart from its international competition. This stage finalized in November 2016, with the launch of SISMICA. The council has recently approved the next stage of the project, which involves the implementation of SISMICA for promoting Chilean visual arts in the United States and Latin America, specifically in Miami and Buenos Aires. The initiative also considers brand presence at the Ch.ACO Fair.
-Who will benefit from this brand? Can other gallery owners and individual artists outside the association be involved?
SISMICA looks to benefit the Chilean contemporary art industry as a whole. We invite everyone involved in the area - artists, gallery owners, collectors, curators- to approach AGAC and ProChile, to join efforts and help SISMICA reach its goal of internationally promoting Chilean visual arts.