An artist working in a bureaucracy



I titled this chapter ‘an artist working in a bureaucracy’… so I feel I should say something positive about bureaucracy. Everyone requires the sense of law and order and security that the United Nations represents… and not many people understand how long it takes to find agreement among so many nations to put in place internationally agreed laws. For example it took ten years of discussions to create the ‘Convention on the rights of the child’. To most people in the West it is a list of ‘common sense’ ideas expressed as articles that many nations already have in place. To others however it has been adopted into their own legislation since for many countries the very concept of legal rights for children is still foreign.

The gap between what is law and what people understand to be law is still very great and needs be continually addressed. As much as we praise the creation of international conventions as the highest agreed ideals for humanity, we still have to remember that in order for these to become ‘real’ tools for improvement, they not only need to be agreed on by our intellectual and legal representatives, but they need to be popularized and practiced by every community. It is here, in this roll of popularization that the work of a communicator comes into play. An essential part of that communication team is the Artist. In the negotiation process, the last thing a bureaucracy needs is an ever-changing creative mind…but it definitely needs an ever changing and adapting creative mind in the explanation process.

Note the dates 1990. From this moment on at that first Animation for Development meeting, more jobs were created in UNICEF to help improve our visual communication outreach. Even in HQ where some staff were skeptical, the world of visual communication was changing around them. People were not just listening or reading about how people lived around the world, they were seeing how they lived on an unprecedented scale. An understanding of how much more visible UNICEF had to become in order to keep being noticed, was also spreading.

George McBean 2012