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Today, we have the honor of unveiling Red Hat’s support of the Tate Exchange program at Tate Modern. You might wonder what a champion of open source software has in common with a champion of arts and culture. Quite a lot, as it turned out. With the launch of Tate Exchange, Tate Modern is inviting everyone who enters its doors to not just admire art, but to participate in it.

In April 2016, when I heard about Tate Exchange for the first time, the new Switch House extension of Tate Modern was not complete yet. I remember talking about the project during my visits to the construction site, all the way on the 5th floor, where the program is hosted today. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.

Tate Exchange is an annual program that brings together artists, businesses and the general public to collaborate and create new artwork together. The program strives to make art more approachable, allowing exchanges between different types of people and inspiring the artist within themselves. For example, in April, a fairground is being set up at Tate Exchange. Historically, fairgrounds were sites of exchange that enabled traders to buy and sell their goods, but that also drew together diverse populations in carnival, excess and play. With this initiative, unusual stalls, unexpected tours, and pop-up performances will take place with plenty of opportunities to get involved and collaborate.

That participation at the base of the program is what makes it so powerful. Just like in open source software, anyone can contribute, anyone can bring new perspectives, anyone can make a difference.

As the artist Tim Etchells crystallizes in his conceptual work that engages the audience, that exchange can happen in several ways – between generations, economies, cultures, institutions, strangers and friends. We live in a time where communication is easier and we have a chance to build on each other’s ideas to create innovation if we seize the opportunity. This, again, aligns to what Red Hat is doing in IT, promoting collaboration, creating and nurturing opportunities to solve challenging problems that could be hard to tackle without the exchange that open source offers.

Tate Modern is acting as patron to collaboration in the arts and I anticipate that the Exchange program will be a success. The response from the public so far has been enthusiastic, with visitors to the gallery not just coming to look but to actively get involved. In open source, like in arts, society is ready to engage in a collective participation, pushing ideas further than the original plan. I firmly believe in this concept – there should be no barriers to creativity and creation – and that’s why Tate Exchange and Red Hat are well-suited. Open source can transcend technology, and Tate Exchange is another example.

Next time you’re on the London South Bank, stop by Tate Modern and get inspired by this collaboration that can democratize access to the world of art for millions of people. There’s a good chance I’ll be around and I look forward to seeing you there.

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