The Rhizome Digest merged into the Rhizome News in November 2008. These pages serve as an archive for 6-years worth of discussions and happenings from when the Digest was simply a plain-text, weekly email.

Subject: RHIZOME DIGEST: 11.15.02
Date: Sat, 16 Nov 2002 19:57:46 -0500

RHIZOME DIGEST: November 15, 2002


+editor's note+
1. Rachel Greene: Fees -- Survey Results and Disucssion

2. reinhard storz: Announcement of a competition

3. gunalan nadarajan: Head of School of Multimedia Art

4. David Crawford: Stop Motion Studies -- Series 2 (new work)
5. m e t a: - panorama
6. doron golan: computerfinearts collection

7. Joy Garnett, Lee Wells, Jess Loseby, Ivan Pope, Jim Goertz, Andrew
Bucksbarg, Marcus, YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES, Nathaniel Stern,
Michael Crane, Eduardo Navas, Samantha Levin, Maresa, Susan, Vladis, Simon
Biggs, John Hopkins, Lewis Lacook, Daryl Watson, Eryk Salvaggio and Mark
Tribe: Rhizome Membership Fees

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Date: 11.15.02
From: Rachel Greene (rachel AT
Subject: Editor's Note

This Digest contains excerpts from Rhizome Raw dialogues about's
financial situation, and the prospect of our charging fees for membership or
certain services. Please read these excerpts, and take note of the related
survey's results (48% of respondents said they would pay some fees). Shout
out of thanks to our amazing intern Feisal Ahmad who compiled these threads
and the survey results for Digest -- thanks Feisal!

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Date: 11.15.02
From: reinhard storz (rstorz AT
Subject: Announcement of a competition

Announcement of a competition to select an Internet work on the subject
"Library/Internet as a means of archiving and communicating knowledge" for
the University of Konstanz

For the extension to the social sciences library of the University of
Constance, the state of Baden-Württemberg (Federal Republic of Germany)
announces an international "Kunst am Bau" (Art partners Construction)

The organiser wishes to receive work which makes use of the Internet and
addresses the subject "Library/Internet as a means of archiving and
communicating knowledge". The work(s) selected for implementation will
become part of the homepage of the library of the University of Constance.

The sum of EUR 120,000 has been made available for the competition.

Complete text of the announcement with entry rules

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Metamute continues with its specially commissioned series of articles.
The latest are Stewart Home on Martin Amis, Benedict Seymour on Border
Crossing, and Nat Muller in conversation with Palestinian filmmaker Azza
El Hassan.

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Date: 11.15.02
From: gunalan nadarajan (pups2320 AT
Subject: Head of School of Multimedia Art

LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts, South-east Asia¹s foremost creative arts
training institution, seeks suitable candidates for the position of Head,
School of Multimedia Art. One of six Schools within the College, the School
of Multimedia Art was set up in 1996 offering a wide range of courses in new
media art and technology. Specialisations currently offered include
Animation Art, Interactive Art and Video Art. Since its inception, the
School has undergone rapid expansion - student enrolment has risen
considerably and the courses have widened to include new areas of
specialisation. The School seeks not only to remain relevant to industries
but also to lead them into new directions by providing creative content
through its research initiatives.

The College is looking for a dynamic and enterprising Head of School with
demonstrated expertise in new media art, technology and education. As a
faculty member, you will be encouraged to continue your professional
practice and research with staff benefits including professional practice


Minimum Master of Fine Art degree or equivalent
Minimum 8 years of working experience in a teaching and/or research capacity
with experience in management
Demonstrated experience in generating pedagogical strategies and curricula
to respond to developments in new media art and technology
An active exhibition record, both national and international
The capacity to teach and supervise at graduate levels
A commitment and drive to develop strong links between the School and
relevant industries
A strong research portfolio in new media art and technology

If you have the expertise and experience for the above position, please
write in with a detailed resume indicating current employment and salary,
contact number(s) and enclosing a recent passport-sized photograph to:

The Human Resource Manager
LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts
90 Goodman Road
Singapore 439053

or e-mail your application to:
hr_manager AT

Applications should arrive no later than 14 December 2002. We regret that
only shortlisted candidates will be notified.

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Date: 11.15.02
From: David Crawford (crawford AT
Subject: Stop Motion Studies -- Series 2 (new work)
ps - file sizes are better now.

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Date: 11.12.02
From: m e t a (meta AT
Subject: - panorama

// realtime geographic collage application


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Date: 11.12.02
From: doron golan (doron AT
Subject: computerfinearts collection

- New works by Alexei Shulgin and Natalie Bookchin

- Visit "Dialogue" an interview by Anne Barlow of the New Museum of
Contemporary Art with Doron Golan of Computer Fine Arts

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David Byrne on northern european Blip Hop music and others in
LEONARDO MUSIC JOURNAL special issue no 12. on PLEASURE.
Orders from journals-orders AT for Table of Contents see CD features experimental music from
EASTERN EUROPE curated by Christian Scheib and Susanna Niedermayr.

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Date: 10.24.02 - 11.10.02
From: Joy Garnett, Lee Wells, Jess Loseby, Ivan Pope, Jim Goertz, Andrew
Bucksbarg, Marcus, YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES, Nathaniel Stern,
Michael Crane, Eduardo Navas, Samantha Levin, Maresa, Susan, Vladis, Simon
Biggs, John Hopkins, Lewis Lacook, Daryl Watson, Eryk Salvaggio and Mark
Subject: Membership fees for Rhizome

RHIZOME.ORG MEMBERSHIP FEE SURVEY RESULTS recently conducted a survey on the viability of a fee-based
membership structure, asking for member input on our current fiscal crisis.
Needless to say, the survey has sparked some lively debate on the nature
and future of our organization, and whether membership fees will
strengthen or compromise the integrity of We¹ve compiled
the results of our survey and offer them below, along with members'
thoughts and the responses of Executive Director Mark
Tribe. Both have been edited, but the original posts are available on The details:

The survey was conducted on the web site. When members
logged on to the site, they saw the following message:

It costs about $400,000 a year to operate That comes out to
around $20 per member. In the past, most of our revenue has come from
foundations, but foundation support is shrinking.

We have tried asking for voluntary contributions, but so far this year
only about 1% of our 19,000 members have made gifts. In order to keep
Rhizome going, we may have to charge a membership fee.

Would you pay a sliding-scale membership fee to access Rhizome if it
were necessary to keep Rhizome alive?

140 respondents, or 9%, said they would pay $21 or more 252 respondents,
or 15%, said they would pay $11 to $20 393 respondents, or 24%, said
they would pay $5 to $10 847 respondents, or 52%,. said they would not
pay fee Total respondents: 1632

In total, 48% of respondents indicate that they would pay some form of a
membership fee, while 52% said they would not pay a fee. Based on these
results, would generate between $80,000 and $120,000 per
year, depending on how many of our 20,000 members are active. By
comparison, about 400 members have contributed to the community
campaignso far this year, for a total of about $15,000 (we're still


From: Jim Goertz (jgoertz AT

Rhizome, delivers a marketable service that includes sense of community,
information, intellectual stimulation etc. I as an artist, cultural
worker, independent, I find value in the service you provide. I would be
more than willing to pay for it. It would not be wrong to ask for a fee,
nor would it be wrong to introduce a sliding scale based on the level of
services the user requires. A free trial or guest login would be good
since many who browse the material are students ( I teach and often
direct my students to rhizome)?This co(uld be a factor for international
members: A charitable donation is recognized only in the country of
origin, the US. In other countries, that reciept is useless. However, I
could claim 100% of the cost of a membership fee at tax time. It is
time we stop the freewill offerings and freeloading, and recognize that
there is a cost to this wonderful service that you have been breaking
your backs to provide to the wired world.

From: "marcus" (marcusbastos AT

As part of the 1% who made a (small but) volunteer contribution to
Rhizome, I´m writing to let you know that I´m ready to contribute again,
if necessary. I believe on the symbolic importance of Rhizome´s free
membership. Of course people pay for magazines, CDs, books and events.
This is the logic of mercancy, the logic of competition. But one of the
greatest things about being online is the possibility of producing and
distributing content with another logic, the logic of cooperation. That
may seem naive, but I believe in the power of dreams, specially when
they are shared by a considerable number of people! I would be happier
to know that this wonderful community of 19,000 values Rhizome enough to
voluntarily contribute with it than finding out that paying for
membership will be necessary.

From: Andrew Bucksbarg (andrew AT

I would be willing to become a contributing member to Rhizome. There
should be transparency in Rhizome organizational and financial
operations if so, and perhaps membership is like a co-op. Rhizome should
find ways to involve members more in the process of the organization in
some democratic fashion. Perhaps there should be different levels of
membership?Keep the membership fee as low as possible (initially you
said you would need $5.00 a member, but then proposed a fee starting at
$11?) Eliminate things that don't make sense, or do not benefit your
larger member base, unless they have greater merit?I think it is a good
idea to have a fee, Rhizome can model itself on the concept of a
"society for..." or organizations like the College Art Association?For
the cost of going to a movie, sure I want to support Rhizome, Rhizome is
important to me. Make people proud of their support for Rhizome, you
know, "Rhizome is yours..."

From: "Michael Crane"(mcrane01 AT

The current enlightened paradigm for evaluating museums that make a
difference considers four main areas: Purpose, Capability, Efficiency,
Effectiveness?Your capability is obvious. Efficiency I hope so, too.
$400,000 is not a radical or ridiculous amount of money for an NFP's
annual budget?Your fundraising goal of $100,000 (even thought 100K is
large) is also not out of line?that would mean users are only being
asked to come up with 25% of the total needed to provide the service
they seek/use. Getting the other 75% by other means is no small feat,
and will continue to take a lot of hard work to accomplish. The really
important factors--purpose and effectiveness need to be answered by you
and the board, AND by each and every user/subscriber. I am not sure I
could ascertain Rhizome's purpose when I jumped into Raw (and then back
out again)--but it didn't take long to realize that Rhizome was an
important portal to my research and continuing search for good an artist, curator, observer. So that purpose is certainly
in sync with mine?So I guess I just answered 'effectiveness' for myself
too. Hibernation? No way--may as well choose sudden instant death. So
my bottom line is, yeah, I'll ante up the basic fee and more. I want
Rhizome to stick around.

From: Eduardo Navas (navasse AT

Everything needs to be funded. Period. The economical superstructure is
way too strong and decentralized for it to change drastically ­ at least
in the next few years. And so, people in the arts need to function
along with other economic entities at a level which can let them be
productive in some cultural form. I do not need to state that funding is
needed for this activity?If fees are inevitable, then the way these are
to be applied can become the next form of outproduction. That is, fees
do not need to be applied in conventional ways, but rather in a
"rhizomic" sort of way. Here are my suggestions on fees: 1) All those
who are currently users should be asked to pay up a fee, as they have
already shown their interest on the site. 2) This fee should be based on
region. Those living in countries with not as much income should not be
expected to pay as much as those living in the U.S. 3) All new users
should be able to use all areas of Rhizome for at least six months. This
is more than enough time to decide if they want to become permanent
members. The last point is probably the most crucial, because in this
way Rhizome can still deliver content to anyone who is new to the site.

From: Samantha Levin (binnorie AT

My suggestion is to: 1. Keep Rhizome Digest free. I am willing to pay a
small fee for this, but I would want to be able to continue forwarding
it to others. 2. Keep some pages free- people will join once they've
gotten their feet wet. 3. You won't lose many members by charging a
membership fee- especially a sliding scale. You should, however, make
the payment process as easy as possible. 4. Make allowances for some
deserving artists/groups who can't afford to pay for services they need
to access. Thank you for providing a truly wonderful and powerful art


Hibernation is perhaps the wrong word to use for scaling back Rhizome.
The banal word redefinition might be more apt for Rhizome's core
activities: the site, Raw, to which we would add Rare and the Digest,
plus maintenance of the ArtBase (and an office in a lower-rent
neighborhood?). Admittedly, more easily said than done?It's bewildering
and disheartening that the great New York art institutions, which shovel
piles of money into art shows and purchases, can't spare a dime for such
a worthy cause. We would gladly pay an annual $20 membership fee or
more to keep Rhizome going, and we encourage all new media artists,
curators, critics, lovers, and the like to take the same attitude.
Rhizome and Rhizome alone stands for what we believe in: Net art.


From: Nathaniel Stern nes212 AT

Would I pay $5-10 for rhizome - absolutely! Does that mean you should
charge it? Not sure. You might lose a lot of members abroad if you were
to charge a fee. Granted: -we pay to subscribe to magazines, to enter
museums and to see performances. But subscription online 'zines don't
last (except porn), museums and galleries are often a suggested donation
(though they make you feel bad if you don't give anything, I go almost
exclusively to those when I am low on cash), and performances are a rare
and major treat for the artist with no flow.

From: Maresa (espanz AT

I've subscribed your mailing list since 2 years and i'm really
interested in rhizome as a research project. By now, I know I cannot
afford to pay a fee ?virtual spaces should work on different levels than
commercial, even if there are material persons behind that?the scenario
you presented me in your letter is really sad, but i'm not in the
condition to stand it, neither for so few money. I'm sorry.

From: Ivan Pope (ivan AT

You will certainly lose a majority and possibly a large majority of your
members by introducing a fee. The issue will not necessarily be the fee
itself, but the perceived effort needed to pay it. Imposing a fee
immediately raises the question in the mind of the user: what is the
value of this service to me? Would I care if I didnt have access? And a
lot of people will from that point drift off elsewhere?I cant see what I
would really, really miss if it went. I dont know about commissions. The
email discussions I would probably be better off without at this stage.
Publications I dont see. The Web site is a good resource, but will be/is
replicated elsewhere. Events? Dont see them. The main thing that I crave
is real community among artists. And that I don¹t get from Rhizome or
anywhere else, except in a very loose generic sense. So would I pay for
Rhizome to continue? Yes. But thats the sort of person I am. I wouldnt
rely on the mass of other subscribers to be that bothered.

From: Susan (susanobs AT

No access without paying is absurd?Get the museums to pay. What would
they do without you? It would cost them plenty to find the net artists
on their own. Threaten them with shutting down. And of course the on
line classes and pricey host provider didn't work. Artists don't need
either one, and at least 99 percent of us are broke?It doesn't make
sense. Limiting the audience to those who pay, deciding what artists
get funding, that's elitism, exclusivity?Rhizome can be defined as an
inclusive place like you claim on your site, not claiming to be the last
word on the subject, or completely changed to be exclusive. There is no
middle ground. Imagine, "Members Only" on the homepage and what?
Members only access to your Fact Sheet? It would be so embarrassing to
be a "rhizomer"! No, I just wouldn't ever send anybody to
ever again.

From: Simon Biggs (simon AT

Charging a fee would have a negative impact on that tenet of the
organisation. It might also compromise its charitable status?.If you
look at what has happened in the UK you might find some enlightening
data. Once upon a time all public museums were free. Then, under a
neo-conservative government, grants dried up and the museums had to
start charging. Museum attendance fell by several factors. Not by a
percentage but by factors. I do not have the figures to hand, but
audiences shrank to 20% of what they use to be, or something like that.
Even though the museums now had independent and increased income the
effect was to isolate them from their communities and this led to a
melt-down in their status and effectiveness. I am a big supporter of
Rhizome. It serves a function in my life (although I only subscribe to
Rare, Digest and Net Art News) that I would miss if you put it into
hibernation, so I do not support that option either. I just think you
might live to regret charging (a very hard decision to reverse, I fear)
and perhaps you should think further on other options.

From: Vladis (realunderdog AT

I live in Russia and I'm a student and young artist. I work...but I
should pay for my education and so on (including expensive and very bad
connection). I, and our group, don't earn money on art, as usual we
should pay for everything: materials and so on. So I think that it will
be very bad situation for me - pay for membership. $11 - it's a price
that I pay for month of connection to Internet, so it will be looking
like I pay for Internet twice...

From: John Hopkins (jhopkins AT

Go into hibernation. Rhizome has become an institution, a centralized
broadcast system, a mechanism for attracting money and redistributing
it. this has nothing to do with networking and everything to do with
traditional run-of-the-mill art-world institutions. I'd say hibernate,
ESPECIALLY if hibernate means getting back to distributed systems and
decentralizing the flow and not aiming to be something other than
another node in a living system?.I, for one, need no centralized
distribution system to "participate" in my network. I don't rely on
nettime, rhizome, 7-11, neoscenes, or any other system. I rely on
point-to-point dialogue, sustained and attentive. I liked rhizome better
when it represented less than a handful of en-faced people. Now it is
an institution. I don't need any more institutional influences in my


Daryl Watson wrote: Membership is fine. Payment is a pain.

Mark responds: Sure is!

Daryl: As a current member based in Australia, and as a member without a
credit card, my main concern is how can I pay in a way, that I don't
have to run around. Postal order? Snail mail? If there is a way around
this it would encourage me to pay a fee.

Mark: Postal order (also known as money order) is one option. Snail mail
is another. perhaps the best option is paypal. Paypal is a secure online
payment system that is available in 37 countries. to set up an account,
you need either a bank account or a credit card. Sorry if this sounds
like an ad for paypal, but i think it's a great service. More info at

Lewis LaCook wrote: I would pay the fee...I mean, if rhizome needs it, I
would do it...i know it's not exactly the most popular stance in the
world, but there comes a time when you have to REALLY stand up and
support what you believe in... of course, i would demand a full
accounting of where the monies were going which i believe you guys do
anyway, right? legal requirement...

Mark responds: Several people have brought this up, so I thought I'd
clarify. My understanding of US law is that nonprofits are required to
provide financial statements upon request, but not to post financial
statements. We nonetheless had a pdf our tax return on the web site
until we redesigned the site. unfortunately, the link to the pdf somehow
didn't make it into the new design. You can still find it at as we get our new audited
financial statement from our accountant, it will go up on the site
(should be within a few weeks). it will cover the fiscal years that
ended june 30 2002 and june 30 2001.

Eryk Salvaggio wrote: Why not. But I don't think $5.00 a year will
really do it. Do you?

Mark responds: $5 might work if it were the low-end of a sliding scale,
assuming the average gift would be higher. If we set the threshold too
low, we risk losing money on the smallest transactions, because it takes
us time and thus costs money to process each transaction (we're actually
working on automating this, but it's pretty complicated as it involves
both e-commerce and database applications). If we set the threshold too
high, we risk excluding people. The survey we're running on the web site
this week should help us figure out the right level.

Eryk: Concerning charging for raw, I think charging for raw is a
reasonable idea, and for the sake of reaching out and being idealistic,
what if we waived fees for Raw for those who donate intellectual
capital? For example, if you make a piece and it is donated to the
artbase, or if you print something that the superusers deem as
publishable, etc, etc, it could earn you credits towards using services
at rhizome. Or if you are a super user. It has to be a small portion of
the overall subscriber base. Not to mention that at this point, if
those people didn't donate money then there is something bad happening.

Mark: I've definitely considered this, but it would be difficult to
implement and manage. More importantly, I'm not sure it's a good idea.
We contribute our work because we want to communicate, because we want
access to an audience, because we want to participate in a community.
When we post texts to Raw, contribute art projects to the ArtBase or do
work as SuperUsers, we are donating intellectual property but we are
also getting something in return. What I'm getting at is that value is
gained on both ends of the system. Members who contribute content are
among the most devoted members of the community and are likely to be
among the most willing to pay a fee because, although they contribute
the most value, they also gain the most value.

Jess Loseby wrote: What worries me is what seems to happen is a small
number of people end up doing all the work to keep the thing running but
then, the rest enjoy the continued presence and remain uninvolved (while
the few burn out - and for no money). Also would possible funders
increase/continue future funding when it has been 'proved' that rhizome
can 'work' with a reduced remit and volunteer-based set-up? It seems
more likely that funders would see a membership fee as a positive sign
that rhizome is seeking to become self-supporting and their money would
be used to fund new initiatives, work and writing rather than (the badly
needed but funding un-friendly) office supplies and pay-rolls...

Mark responds: Yes, that's exactly right. The more we support ourselves,
the more fundable we become.

Jess: Perhaps, what the users of rhizome really need (and what would
make rhizomes packages 'different') is a package targeted specifically
for net. artworks/projects... a 'bottom-rung' package That is a one off
payment including 1-2 yr domain registration and setup and $0 monthly
hosting and (typically) 20 ­40 MB space. No frills no service

Mark: Great suggestion. I'm looking into it.

Jess: Second thought: I would pay a 'ticket' fee to hear some of the
guys on this list talk in a live webcast/chat on say, flash design,
java, streaming media etc Or really get inside some of the 'named'
artists work, with debate and questions alongside....

Mark: Nice idea, but riskier than one might at first think. My concern
is that it would be time-consuming to organize and might not attract
enough users to do much more than cover the costs. One of the keys to
our success has been that everything we do is member-driven, scalable
and efficient. Our earned income programs need to leverage our existing
strengths in ways that allow us to continue to focus on the core
program. That's why we developed our web hosting and online education
programs through partnerships. We just can't afford to invest
significant resources in unproven ideas or to reinvent the wheel.

Jess: Last thought (promise) Personally I think rhizome needs some more
promoting (from my own experience) in the uk. There are particular
channels that artist go through here locating resources, opportunities
etc and rhizome just isn't there.

Mark: Great idea! I think you just volunteered to promote in
these channels... ;-) Seriously, if you send me your address I'll send
you a stack of post cards and a few press kits.

Pall Thayer wrote: An annual fee is fine. I would be willing to pay up
to say $15. But what about access to the ArtBase? I think that should
remain free. I think some of us who have work in the ArtBase look at it
as sort of a venue for our work. I for one get lot's of hits on my site
from Rhizome and am concerned about what might happen if only paying
members were allowed access to the ArtBase.

Mark responds: Allowing new members to try for a week before
they have to pay a membership fee would solve that problem, no? I'd
appreciate feedback on this from others who voiced the opinion that the
ArtBase should remain free.

David Goldschmidt wrote: I'll pay. although i think the sliding scale
should be based on where one lives. americans and west europeans should
pay more while folks from less affluent regions should pay less (or

Mark responds: But how would we implement this? Sniff IP addresses and
look them up in a global location database? Honor system? I don't think
this makes sense. As long as we set the low-end of the sliding scale low
enough, it should work itself out.

Liza Sabater-Napier wrote: Rhizome can choose to go the way of
having certain content for free and then make juicier parts available
for a fee. I'm not sure that making RAW free would be such a great idea
because it is probably the single most used service offered by Rhizome.

Mark replied: Actually, Raw is one of our least-used services. While
usage of every other list and feature has grown exponentially, Raw has
hovered around 450 subscribers for over a year. By comparison, Net Art
News grew from 1,200 to 3,700 subscribers in the same period. Yes, Raw
gets lots of posts. But that's partly because everything anybody posts
goes to Raw, even if the poster doesn't subscribe to Raw.

Jess Loseby wrote: What resources (in all fairness I've not spoken to
Mark about this so I may be jumping the gun)?? I know a stack of
colleges (and I'm sure many artists wanting to learn more about
rhizome/net art, 'meet' the people etc) that would jump at getting their
art/media students involved in a 'virtual internship' working for
rhizome doing just that..for no money but the cv credit and experience.
Our local galleries and arts organization have almost half their
administration/publicity run in this way, with 1 -3 month student 'work
placements' with a specified agenda. The resources we would need are a
well structured 'brief' (eg basic outline could be to identify
media/art/digital agencies, contact and promote rhizome) and someone to
co-ordinate the 'interns' over email. I still think rhizome just isn't
thinking global enough, ironically consider how much influence it has on
global artists.

Mark responds: We do have a virtual internship program and invite
international students to apply, but you underestimate the time involved
in selecting, training and managing interns effectively.

Lee Wells wrote: What was the founding mission statement in the business
plan? Has Rhizome expanded its mission from that original statement?

Mark replies: Yes, we have expanded our mission. Originally, it was
focused on discussion, which we described as "the exchange information
and ideas related to new media art." Our current mission statement now
reads thus: is an online platform for the global new media
art community. Our programs support the creation, presentation,
discussion and preservation of contemporary art that uses new
technologies in significant ways."

Lee: Raw, Calendar, and Opportunity listings for the most part can run
themselves through the software that has already been designed. Big
thumbs up by the way the new architecture is impressive. But now that
the software is in place. Does Rhizome need to continue developing the
site, very expensive right?

Mark: Not so expensive if we do it gradually. Francis Hwang is our
Director of Technology and he does everything himself (with help from
interns and volunteers). It is important to keep fixing bugs, refining
and improving features, updating interfaces and static pages as the
organization and our programs evolve, and undertaking major renovations
every few years.

Lee: Rare should go although it probably doesn't cost much to operate.
Digest of course stays

Mark: Actually, in my hibernation scenario Digest would go but Rare
would stay because Rare is filtered by volunteer SuperUsers but Digest
is edited by Rachel (would be hard to get a volunteer to do this in a
really consistent and reliable way).

Lee: Net Art News: I'm sure with a little hunting Rhizome can find a
primary corporate sponsor. I'm sure providing this content service for
Rhizome is very costly.

Mark: Yes, it is relatively expensive. We have had little luck with
corporate sponsors. To be honest, I'm almost glad. Corporate sponsorship
almost always comes with strings attached. And I do feel it creates a
compromised atmosphere for art. This is not to say that I'd turn a
sponsor down. Just that we aren't actively seeking corporate sponsorship
right now.

Lee: Put all commissions on hold.

Mark: That would be a real shame. The money is there. If we discontinue
our commissioning program, the funders of our commissioning program
would likely support other media. There are already so few sources of
funding and professional recognition for new media artists. To lose this
opportunity would be a real loss for the community.

Lee: Do not do any events without complete sponsorship to cover all

Mark: We've taken it one step further: we only do events in partnership
with organizations that cover all costs and do all the work. Our role is
to help conceptualize, contextualize and promote the event. This is how
Rhizome-L.A. works.

Lee: Does Rhizome have to offer so many programs? Maybe its time for
all of us to take a survey defining how we use Rhizome.

Mark: We started a strategic planning process a year an a half ago by
doing a community survey. In the survey, we asked our members which
programs they value most and asked them to evaluate some new program
ideas. Based on this survey and a bunch of individual interviews, we
defined a set of core programs. We then evaluated these programs in the
context of three key strategic objectives: community growth,
community-based revenue and scalable efficiency, and selected the
programs that best meet these objectives. These are the programs we
offer now. From my perspective, they are all either essential or of key
strategic value. The recent site redesign, and the addition of new
features (such as the calendar) and new programs (such as the
commissions) are a direct result of the strategic planning process.
Since we've made these changes, traffic and membership have grown more
rapidly than ever before. So I think it's working. The key is to get the
community to cover a significant share of the cost. Even if we trim back
our programs and thus our costs, we still need the community revenue. So
the key is to strike the right balance.

Lee: Out of the 19,000 members how many people actually could be
considered active viewer/users vs. Passive viewers vs. someone who
checked it out and signed up and forgot about it.

Mark: Hard to say. We don't track usage by user. But we do know that the
web site is now used by over 50,000 different people (unique users) per
month, and receives over 115,000 visits per month. That means that the
average user visits the site 2.1 times per month.

Lee: As for me, I primarily only use Raw and very rarely go to the

Mark: You are the exception.

Lee: Bring back the splash art and have artists donate their work again.

Mark: Splash art was not listed as a priority in the survey.

Joy Garnett wrote: Rhizome is certainly not alone these days as a
non-profit art org in search of funding. Just about everyone in NY,
including the older established non-profits, seems to be scrambling.
There always seems to be a combo of benefit dinners, silent auctions,
foundation grants, corporate sponsorships, private gifts, that have to
be achieved year after year, in order to survive. Of that list, what
fundraising process has Rhizome yet to approach?

Mark responds: We've done or tried all except an auction. Auctions work
well for organizations whose members or friends make art that people
want to buy. Unfortunately, there is little evidence to support the
hypothesis that people want to buy new media art, which is what our
members and friends tend to make. So I don't think an auction would make
sense for us. Last year, we did a party-style benefit. This year, we're
doing a sit-down dinner. More on that in a few weeks. We have done well
with foundations (better than any other new media art nonprofit that I
know of). We haven't done so well with corporate sponsors, partly
because they seem to prefer older, more established organizations. The
fact that we are mostly online (no wall to write their name on) seems to
inhibit them as well. But as I said earlier, not having corporate
sponsors could also be seen as a mixed blessing. We've done our best to
attract private gifts from major donors--last year we got about $7,000.
I guess we don't have enough rich friends... ;-)

Joy: I'm no expert on fundraising, but there are definitely experts
nearby, in New York. People who've been doing this for a while. Why not
call upon the directors of arts organizations that have managed to hang
in there over the years (decades) such as White Columns and Artists
Space? I'm sure they would be happy to share their expertise. Call them
up, buy them lunch, pick their brains (if you haven't already). What
about pooling resources/knowlege? That would be rather rhizomatic...

Mark: I have done that with more comparable organizations such as
Franklin Furnace, and have also sought advice from various funders
(mostly program officers who have themselves run media arts
organizations and understand funding from both sides of the equation)
and a terrific consultant by the name of Greg Kandel (he helped us with
our strategic plan). Lauren Nuzzi, our Development Director, has over
10 years' experience. Our board is another valuable resource. I don't
want to sound defensive, but I do think we know what we're doing when it
comes to fundraising. We wouldn't have survived this long--almost seven
years--if we didn't.

Joy: As for charging fees from Rhizomers, it would definitely change the
nature and demographics of Rhizome, for better or worse. For every one
person who pays, how many would just leave?

Mark: That's what we're trying to find out with our online survey...

Joy: And would Rhizome suffer or benefit from their absence?

Mark: I think Rhizome would suffer for the loss of members, both in
terms of critical mass and in terms of diversity. The more the merrier,
as far as I'm concerned!

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Rhizome Digest is filtered by Rachel Greene (rachel AT ISSN:
1525-9110. Volume 7, number 46. Article submissions to list AT
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