benefits of doubt is an artwork and game made by multi-disciplinary artist, Gen Townsend, that explores the power dynamics in the artworld. In this participatory card game, players are invited to uncover the beggars and choosers in the art world.
There are two main teams in the art world: beggars and choosers
Choosers are corrupt gatekeepers who unfairly rejected a proposal. Choosers want to shift the blame and avoid an accusation (or risk losing their social status and job). This team includes the Committee Members and Executive Assistant.
Beggars in the art world are uninformed and angry. Beggars want to work together to expose the corrupt Choosers. This team includes the Artists, Administrator, Anarchist, Copyright Thief, Art Educator and Community Consultant.
An outsider in the art world, the Anonymous Artist, is so desperate for attention they want to be (falsely) accused of corruption. Any media attention is good, right?
The chooser team includes:
*There are no people of diverse cultural or linguistic heritage among the board members, award panels and executives in more than half of Australia’s arts and cultural organisations. Source: Shifting the balance: cultural diversity in leadership in Australia’s arts, screen, and creative sectors, released in August 2019 by Diversity Arts Australia:
The beggars team includes:
*According to the CoUNTess report, a benchmarking project and online resource on gender equality in the Australian contemporary art sector, 74% of visual art graduates are women and 60% of artists represented by galleries are men.
*“Terms such as ‘diversity’, ‘multiculturalism’, and ‘culturally and linguistically diverse’ only normalise whiteness as the example of what it means to be and exist in the world.”
~ Tania Canas.
The outsider includes:
The player with this card wants the beggars to think they’re a chooser and the choosers to think they’re a beggar.
It’s a solo team but victory is glorious. If the Anonymous Artist is accused – that player wins and everyone else loses!