Interfund report

Subject: [Interfund] - Create Your Own Solutions
Date: 03.12.98, 21:54:24

Interfund meeting  {AT}  Xchange Unlimited, Riga November 29, 1998.

During the Xchange Unlimited Baltic New Media Culture Festival in Riga a meeting was held to discuss the creation of the Interfund. The participants were Diana McCarty, Rasa Smite, Manu Luksch, Pit Schultz, Eric Kluitenberg, and others.

What is the Interfund?

The Interfund does not actually exist yet. The Interfund should be many things at the same time, a self funding project, a tool to create open spaces for sovereign experimentation in the digital networks, neither a network, nor a community, it should be a means for collaboration and exchange.

The Interfund was envisioned in Riga as a co-operative, decentralised, non-located, virtual but real, self-support structure for small and independent initiatives in the field of culture and digital media. What follows is a summary of the ideas that were discussed and the problems raised in connection with the possible shape of the Interfund.

First of all the Interfund is an idea to create better ways to access funding and create funding possibilities of itself. The Interfund can also act as a redistributor of financial resources from the affluent enclaves to the impecunious. Funding and financing, however, is only one of the tools the Interfund will employ to achieve its aims.

The Interfund should rather act as a "Resource Pool", shared by each of its members. These resources encompass a wide range of tools:

- knowledge & know-how - skills (a.o. translations in local languages) - software - open source development - access to servers, especially for streaming media in the net - reserving bandwidth and protocols (for example the registration for web   multicasting, domain names, etc.) [- providing informal and mobile frameworks of enhancing and exchanging    skills, technical and theoretical, artistic and pragmatic. - embrace rather modular and distributed than monolitic and centralised    system architectures - how about legitimizing moderators and representatives though some   kind of vote? /pit ]

- support in dealing with official structures;    
- finding appropriate funding for projects    
- visa requirements    
- official letters of support, both in English and the local language    
- official invitations    
- official endorsements
- access to surveys and information sources about activities in the field of culture and digital media

One practical way in which actual funding might work is that the Interfund creates its own capital to give micro-funding to individual projects. The organiser can then claim that the project in question is supported financially by the Interfund (complete with a letter of acceptance by the "board" of the fund). Funding may be as little as US$ 10,- for a project, but can help to create interest from official institutions and structures. Moreover the actual amount of funding by the Interfund need not be specified in all cases.

The possibilities for acquiring donations (not sponsorship) to extend the financial basis of the Interfund will be an area of attention.

Important is that there should always be a variety of models which should be investigated to support individual projects, based on the local situation in which the project operates or is set up.


Some general goals have been proposed for the Interfund:

- to enhance small independent cultural and new media initiatives, - create a pool of shared resources, - promote co-operation between small organisations in this field, - offer support (practical, financial, legal and moral) to find means to produce art and culture projects in the field of new media, - to educate policy and decision makers about the importance of supporting independent media culture.

The Interfund can also serve as a forum for the critique of (the inefficiency of) large institutions, particularly in the field of new media and culture, and large and overfunded ICT development programs.


Though the Interfund will not have a fixed physical location, it should become a real virtual organisation (it is not a simulation). For this purpose a letterhead and design for the Interfund will be developed, as well as a web-site, e-mail address, a logo.... and... (a local Latvian speciality) an official Interfund stamp. All graphical elements will be made down-loadable from the Interfund site for its members (PDF files). The Interfund will be run as a strictly virtual office (a decentralised centre).

Possible legal forms and their implications for establishing the Interfund as an international state-less entity are currently investigated. Should it become a registered society, a charity, a foundation, or yet something else?

Projects are prime

The Interfund initiative also wants to address the need to create less bureaucratic structures. By dealing with official structures the Interfund is an attempt to prevent artists' run and independent initiatives from becoming institutionalised themselves. It should act as an effective bureaucracy protection shield.

The emphasis of the Interfund will lie on horizontal co-operation, which is anti-hierarchical and fundamentally decentralised. Nonetheless the question cannot be escaped who will take responsibility for making the structure work, co-ordinate activities, deal with requests, etc. (who is doing what?). This division of responsibilities should be worked out. The Interfund will have to be multi-nodal. To develop the Interfund as a democratic structure a voting system will have to be considered, for instance when accepting individuals to the "board" of the Interfund. The membership of this board would then be temporary and rotating between members.

The Interfund should always be open to new members. However, every new member has to commit him- or her-self to contributing to the shared pool of resources in some way, by donating skills, knowledge, non-propriety software, financial means if possible, and a willingness to multilateral co-operation.

These issues of membership, representation and expertise have to be clarified.


- Contacts will be established to other cultural activists in the new media scene, via networks such as Xchange, Syndicate, Rhizome, <nettime>, etc.
- In the local Nordic/Baltic context, where this initiative was discussed, connections will be established to existing and emerging cultural networks in the region (BIN, PCC, Nordic Arts Council, etc.), and other parties who share similar or related interests (a.o. the EFF).
- For the Next 5 Minutes conference, March 12-14, in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, a meeting will be prepared to lay the foundation for the Interfund.

Contact: Rasa Smite <rasa {AT}> Diana McCarty <diana {AT}> Eric Kluitenberg <epk {AT}>

------------The Interfund initiators finally wish to make the following claims: -----------

- Work of artists and independent cultural initiatives in the field of digital media, including innovative technical experimentation, should be considered as valuable in and of itself. This work should not be supported solely if it fits within an established policy framework (like social innovation, employment, etc..).
- Technology should be seen as an integral part of contemporary culture.
- The Interfund demands less politicisation of culture. What independent new media culture needs is support, not political rhetorics or questionable historical narratives.
- No competitions.
- Create your own solutions.

Thank you very much for your attention.

        [*The Interfund*]      (under construction)

A Report by Eric Kluitenberg