London is awash with ‘artist-led’ initiatives that use ‘meanwhile’ spaces as temporary galleries, studios and all the usual stuff. There are many bigger companies doing this too. Nothing new here. Sometimes, like in the case of Bow Arts and Balfron Tower, for example, they are rightly called out for artwashing. There are many more cases of artwashing now than ever before. More and more people are getting interested in its cynical misrepresentation of arts and culture as a ‘community good’ when really art is used as a front for big businesses, national and local government ‘regeneration’, property investors and a whole host of other people wanting to make a profit from, what is for many people, social cleansing. Even artists are getting in on the artwashing act.
But why would any arts organisation want to set up its primary base in a tax haven - particularly one who claim to be all about supporting local people and local economies? And, why would Arts Council England and the Mayor of London (amongst others) be happy giving funds to a company that’s ultimately based in the Isle of Man?
This is the tale of one such case – V22, an ‘artists-led’ and, indeed, ‘artists owned’ arts organisation with a few different incarnations. It’s a bit complex, but that seems to be how they like it. It is one part of a mammoth case of interrelated artwashing that’s going on in London right now.