The past two days found me in a conference on the Uni's Artistic Productivity System (APS) awards. Just a week before that, the Uni honored 28 teachers for their continued artistic production. Butch Dalisay wrote about the awarding ceremony and about his thoughts on the Uni's initiative to reward its artists (read it here).
The two-day conference tackled revisions to the guidelines for this year's cycle of awards. Seems like the APS could do some tweaking. So we--administrators, artists, and jurors--sat down to review the general principles, guidelines, and rating scales for the different arts. And what a lively and heated discussion it was.
As Dalisay points out, the award is not for lifetime achievement but for continued production (the past five years for the first-time applicant, and the past three years for awardees who apply again). But the question is: how to evaluate artistic merit?
There is no quarrel that the APS should reward individual artists for their continued artistic output. But how to measure the quality of artistic production (because it's not just about quantity)? One answer is that the art work should be a significant contribution to the artistic field, if not provide new knowledge or push the envelope.
Here's how it works. Every year there's a systemwide call for applications across the different university campuses. Applicants --limited to teaching personnel in the past awards but to include the non-teaching personnel this year or the next --fills out forms (divided into different categories), attaches supporting documents, and submits four copies of these to their respective campus's APS committees.
A sub-committee of peers reviews the applications (per campus) and submits these to a committee of peers within the campus. After the committee reviews the applications, they recommend deserving applicants to the Chancellor who then forwards these to the university system's committee of peers. The Chancellor of a campus that lacks qualified personnel to constitute a sub-committee and committee of peers sends applications to the university system for evaluation. The university system's committee of peers reviews and rates the applications from all the campuses and recommends to the president the list of awardees. The university president recommends the list to the board of regents for the grant of University Artist I, University Artist II, or University Artist III.
But how do these sub-committees and committees of peers (distinguished practitioners in the different arts) evaluate each application?
The rating scales across the different categories (architecture/landscape architecture; film; fine arts; literary works; music and dance; radio, television, and related media; scholarly works in the arts; and theater) more or less exhibit common criteria:
Each artistic output by an applicant is awarded points (for different genres or different categories), with the total number of points as basis for qualification to the rank of University Artist I, II or III. The sub-committee and committee of peers (on the different levels: campus and system) determine the points awarded per output, based on what they perceive as the qualitative merit of the piece. An artistic output earns additional points for repeat performances/exhibitions as well as for awards and citations received. An applicant can also earn a total number of points from a combination of art works in different categories. However, an applicant earns lesser points for scholarly works since a premium is placed on artistic production.
Sounds complicated, right?
Not as thorny as a roomful of artists arguing about how to evaluate artistic output. At the end of the day (I mean the end of the second day), everyone agreed to go back to the drawing board to fine-tune the measurement instrument. Good luck to us.