2009 Roundtables

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The 2009 Roundtable & Workshop Programs

With the semi-retirement of Dr. Marshall Thomas, the foundation has made him available as a leader and participant in roundtables and workshop formats serving downtown forums, university and college campuses and professional conferences. For scheduling inquiries, please contact jim@7artsfoundation.org . Our Executive Director - Emeritus appears in both two-day and single-day formats.   THIS IS AN OFFICIAL STUDIO WEB PAGE OF THE 7 ARTS FOUNDATION. For schedules/dates, CALL: 7AF new all points number: 903.831.9219| M-Th 11-4 CST; Sa. 11-12N CST.

This page sponsored by ARTS ANSWERS. "After all, we are what we believe when we give, and nothing more." Dr. Marshall Thomas '00 Address

Is there new thinking in the arts, design, and culture-based destination district arena? Consider the following:

To Our Valued Artists, Designers, Teachers & Scholars: Suggestions as to what arts, design & cultural districts should be and remain



A district must be one, single republic - never an empire; and, always, a place of public service willing to join, from time to time, with other districts to introduce ripened innovations






District Artists, Designers, Teachers, Scholars

Convey what art and design and culture are; this reduces and disdains opportunities for professional cant.

No adopting word play themes of 'life', 'emotion', 'elite"...

Keep Districts singular by soberly simplifying a planned & sought out density of offerings

Eschew complex arrangements; reward austere free choices to help participants study, research, and pursue arts, design or cultural aims

Reward efforts to gain new knowledge, new interpretations while reflecting the best the literature on District offerings has to offer.

Short pursuits add to understanding

Aim for understanding, not necessarily scholarship in order to eliminate the 'standby' of Artists/Designers, & so they can deploy where needed

No surveys; no overworked & underused talent.

Be especially choosy about new projects

Use talent wisely. After all, all new projects are 'interesting;' all is wonderful, marvelous for months; then, three years along, they're old, dull... Discern what is essential.

No cross-District fertilizing, pollinating or 'exploring': the gain, too little.

Reward District advances across old boundaries made by individuals

Works advance learning, wonder... Working committees may enable understanding by study... Developing a learned society is preferable to all other learning-centered pursuits...

No room for thought-cliches

A District committee on subsidized projects works for the district & for themselves only through the District's preservation

To handle projects with one foot inside the District and one foot outside: Assemble a membership of intelligent, scrupulous, puritanical participants with large life insurance policies... They must always ask two things: What will any side-project contribute to teaching target groups how to better understand the work in the District & to pursuing the arts/design course; and, how many of its kind can we carry at any one time?

No logrolling; no tempermental attachments to the tried-and-true, the good-enough; Performance trumps prestige; no avoidance of 'housekeeping'.

Good District economy leads to a Eutopia, yes, Eutopia...

Weighing proposed programs, howsoever justly considered, always follows with actions that 'reflect' beliefs: excising production volume is useful only in teaching. Creativity and invention that lead to acclaimable outcomes are gifts, much idolized, and necessarily free, a gift of nature, not a tax due at regualr intervals from Artists and Designers. Consider this a Eutopia, from the Greek----'the good place.'

Guaging output like a factory exciseman comes from the factory, where it is proper; it is Benthamee and philistine outside it. Output is critically acclaimable from those close to the creator or inventor.

Prestige is self- consciousness gone amok

Ostentatious presentations are products of persons lusting for prestige... Districts furnish a 'public service' quietly... the destination site becomes a valued place for lasting change requiring no 'super-sizing' or hyperbole... Treasures show; they do not tell.

No 'ranking' of prestige; no 'surveys of excellence' that taste like TV ratings; no popularity measures of wisdom or lasting change or understanding...

Districts are patient institutions with their Master Artists/Designers

The perennial problem of Presence/Absence can be solved, improving pursuits. Paced pursuits promote shorter burst of brilliant work and help to eliminate inflated projects.

No frequent leaves of absence. Leaves largely granted to do work benefitting the District.

A District's philosophic minds sift, organize the mass of data in periodic assessments

A regular conspectus of the field is necessary; criticism & supplementation would follow to useful ends. The small works must be widely disseminated; in this way, readers and writers alike find their place and purpose in the arts/design world. Consistent, clear thinking would prevail--leading to unambiguous understanding. The self-conscious 'surveys of excellence' would disappear.

Districts are not guardians of arts/design knowledge... No indexes or computer statistical frequencies of approval or interest suffice on their own. Citation indexing is abandoned in favour of transmitting understanding.

Each District's learned societies turn serious about its significance

Masters and scholarly participants, on the whole conscientious, diligent, giving of themselves, recognize that learning to understand art & design demands continual thought about its seriousness in order to avoid both pedantry and mere business. Teaching aids verification; this truth deserves to be taught. Daily give-and-take among peers and interns, students and apprentices improves everyone's lot.

Works may be acclaimable and altogether misleading. No one can fully trust 'method' to arrive at the truth. No one-time surveys...

A District's Artists & Designers have a last duty to truth, which is to know that it is not seperable from expression

Lip service alone to 'good English' and 'responsible design' does nothing to promote art or elegance. Moreover, the point is to celebrate the truth - by means unambiguous, unconfused, and sensible. Making others toil at deciphering meanings violates the intellectual ideal of 'access' to wisdom, knowledge and understanding.

No professional cant... No reducing expressions as trivial compared with the 'real subject', as if it existed independently... Each subject is to be taken seriously, that is, taken as the opposite of solemn (on one side) and make-believe (on the other side)

Districts move toward these suggested objectives by showing ways to understand art, design and culture

Overcome the lack of literacy from the collegiate ranks downward. Establish or convert Institutes of Advanced Cultural Learning to benefit art, design and cultural pursuits. By bringing together for a year masters and emerging talents we can induce a rapport that adds to the great oral tradition of learning, we review the rudiments of pedagogy, and we reap the intangible benefits of artist/designer succession. Understanding is served.

No programs that eschew or avoid the assurance of continuity. No day goes by without give-and-take sessions. No programs that fail to invent an esprit de corps. No colloquia...

District Master Artists & Designers: create more estimable destinations

This singular focus helps reduce the teaching load and the number of district offerings, coerced commercial forays and project-making to done to gain attention/visibility. This focus yields a by-product - a different breed of artists/designers: an authentic participant in the culture he/she serves. This eliminates anxiety associated with searching for the right artist/designer. Accept the fact that the paragon does not exist, anywhere.

No watered-down oferings. No junkets merely to confer - only to create and invent. No programs to yield prestige, volume, visibility.

The proposed District austerity is secular, practical, therapeutic

Divesting District Master Artists/Designers from many unnecessary obligations keeps them out of the executive treadmill and working at their chosen tasks. Outside work will still prove useful to District Artists/Designers, so long as it is accounted a genuine credit to the District. The misuse of the District for a combination of political ends and 'scientific' pursuits endangers collapse of each destination served. It is easy to see how a District and its free-ranging Artists/Designers could surrender to one or more forms of subversion when they can be defeated so easily by specialists who often usurp the rank of arts and design Masters. For, intellectual defeat is always attributable to the semieducation of discontented intellectuals--even those of good report.

Never confuse appearances with acceptibility. Any loss to the District through the defection or depletion of Artists/Designers must be stopped, by the Artists/Designers or by the District acting on an ehtical conception of higher arts or design pursuits.

End of Section I

By Dr. Marshall Thomas, Chicago, 2007



The Politics of Cultural Despair, by Dr. Fritz Stern, Berkeley, 1961



De Quelques Idees Recues sur la Recherche et l'Enseignement, by V. Kourganoff, 1967

7AF | Workshops | Roundtables | 2008


William James, by G. W. Allen, New York, 1967



Science [periodical] vol. 156, May 19, 1967, 890

7AF Staff Editing for Webpage by 2007


Science [periodical], passim, article by D. S. Greenberg

Texas A&M University Intern


The American University, by Jacques Barzun, New York, 1968