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Is there a need for a joint Capacity Building program within Art and Entrepreneurship on the regional level in East Africa, driven and run by the cultural field? If so, what could a program look like?
Those have been questions discussed on the second meeting with representatives from cultural organizations as well as artists from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda. The meeting in Kampala on March 6–9, included several large questions.
What kind of competence building is needed among artists and cultural organizations? Is the perspective of livelihood a useful one? What are points of similarities in the context and cultural scene in the different countries, and what are the differences?
Three intense conference-days, with visits of cultural organizations in Kampala, ended in the conclusion that this process, discussion, and concrete ideas need to continue.
Three concrete points already happening is:
1) the GoDown Arts Centre start a term 1 course in Creative Entrepreneurship in May.
2) it might be possible to hold a facilitators’ course and training-for-trainers with regional partners sometime between May and August,
3) another meeting on the East Africa level will be held, probably in August, this time hosted by either Tanzania or Rwanda and with local artists invited.
On the meeting in Uganda artists within performing arts, writing, and visual art was participating, as well as representatives from Bayimba Cultural Foundation (Uganda), Femrite (Uganda), 32°East (Uganda), Autumn Ventures Africa (Uganda), MUDA (Tanzania), Ishyo Arts Centre (Rwanda).
The meeting is part of the project ”East Africa Capacity Building Program for Creative Entrepreneurs and Artists” funded mainly by the Swedish Institute and is a cooperation between GoDown Arts Centre (Kenya) and Nätverkstan (Sweden).
What does the Norwegian author Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906) have to do with Crowdfunding?
This week when Max Valentin, founder and CEO of the Swedish crowd funding platform Crowdculture, gave a lecture at the International Culture Project Management education Kulturverkstan, this is what it looked like.
Perhaps it was due to the fact that Ibsen earned his main income from performing rights, which gave – according to Wikipedia – around 3.357 euro in yearly income in 1899.
In 1898 he had a top yearly income of 9.983 euro, of these 8.469 euro was money from the rights of his collected works.
On the other hand, this doesn’t say much about funding by crowd funding…
Kulturverkstan invites professionals within art and culture, business and corporate field, voluntary and societal organizations; project managers, artists, professors, directors, officials, and many others during the education to always have the voice of practice within the education. During the two years the education lasts, a wide range of people have been invited who also serve as a good network for the students after examination.
High voices are raised in Sweden with pros and cons on the CCI – but few have checked any facts or bothered to do analytical distinctions before continuing an agitated talk.
Now the Region of Västra Götaland has published a small booklet written by David Karlsson at Nätverkstan with answers and questions on CCI in a try to sort things out a bit. The intriguing title is: How long is a piece of string?
In Swedish, but an English version is perhaps on it’s way. Download here: Hur långt är ett snöre.pdf.
During some winter months Nätverkstan, together with Sture Carlsson who is former CEO of the Göteborg Symphony Orchestra, Swedish Performing Arts and more, have dug deep into the situation of Wermland Opera.
Opera is probably the most expensive art form and operas around Europe are facing the same problem: increasing costs and lowered or stagnant public funding.
In many countries in Europe the tradition is to put a high degree of public funding into opera and concert halls. Today the situation is changing and for Italian opera houses – the cradle of the art form – the situation is acute. The accumulated deficit for Italian opera houses is enormous 300 million euro.
Wermland Opera, a small opera house situated in Karlstad in Region Värmland, is no exception. Although already getting a relatively large amount of the regional cultural budget (72%), the reality is that they have had to cut in expenses (mainly staff and productions).
Wermland Opera has showed impressive artistic results in its productions. In 2011 they put up the full Wagner Ring trilogy – something even large opera houses find challenging – a production that caused ripples far outside of Värmland with Wagner fans from all over the world traveling to the city and the national press praising the effort.
The opera house has managed to show high artistic quality opera in a small format, something that perhaps can be described as a new model of working for small opera houses with relatively limited budgets in Europe.
But they also face challenges. They can’t cut more in the economy without endangering the artistic quality. At the same time, getting such a high amount of the regional cultural budget as they do, leaving crumbles for other cultural initiatives, they also have a large responsibility. They need to open up for cooperations and to a larger degree see themselves a regional cultural resource.
Read articles in Swedish Television Värmlandsnytt, Swedish radio P4 Värmland or download the following articles here: Articles_WO.pdf. Read also the article ”The End of Italian Opera: Will They Wait for the Fat Lady to Sing?” in Newsweek. Read related post here.
Göteborg International Film Festival has taken over the city and people are rushing through snow and sleet to see films; join events, seminars, price ceremonies; or just do celebrity spotting.
On Saturday evening large crowds went to the big arena in the city to see the documentary from 1982, Koyaanisqatsi. The documentary was directed by Godfrey Reggio, photography by Ron Fricke, and music composed by Philip Glass, and quickly became a cult movie.
In a unique cooperation between the Göteborg Symphony Orchestra and the International Film Festival, this film was shown on 20 meter large screen with live music played by the Symphony Orchestra, the Symphony Orchestra Choir, Philip Glass, and the Philip Glass Ensemble.
The film with a title meaning ”Life out of balance” in the Hopi Indian language, shows exactly that – a life out of balance – as actual today as thirty years ago. Or even more so today.
For those who saw David Guggenheim’s documentary on Al Gore’s campaign to educate people on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, might find similarities. Both try to show a disastrous development for humanity and nature that just can’t go on.
But Koyaanisqatsi is more than a documentary. The film photo, the silent ongoing fast pace, and the live orchestra music in combination goes beyond any simple messages.
DIY (Do It Yourself) is almost like an invitation, a command, to not sit around and wait for things to happen. Instead: Take Action!
Meet up with colleagues, experts, friends, academia, practice, interested folks; create a space, combine your expertise, and solve a problem, found a new idea or make innovations.
DIY Days Gothenburg, taking place this week (18-26th of January), is full of creation, ideas, hot spots, talks, and exchanges. It’s an interesting combination of low thresholds, an open and inviting attitude, and a willingness to share.
The goal is set high: How do we create a sustainable city for the future?
Described under the theme ”Future Cities – Sustainable and Playful Design with focus on Water” people pitch in their ideas such as Tikitut, the community-based tourism or Halo, working on sustainable architecture, or the mix between Hackathons, game industry meet ups, world cafés, crowdfunding, and mentorships and advice.
So take action and pay a visit!
As the bus with the musicians from Wermland Opera leaves Karlstad to go to the evening concert in Karlskoga, darkness comes early and fast. Most of the trip goes through the woods of Värmland in pinch black darkness and in poring rain.
The orchestra at Wermland Opera, normally based in Karlstad, does tours like this now and then to small cities in the region to let opera and classical music reach out to the different corners of Värmland. The concert this evening is arranged by Karlskoga Konsertförening and is this year’s Epiphany Concert led by conductor Henrik Schaefer.
Karlskoga (Karls Skogar/Woods of Karl) got its name from king Karl IX who saw these woods as his royal woods and is a small city of around 27.000 inhabitants. Between 1970–2010, the municipality of Karlskoga was second on the top list of municipalities in Sweden loosing most inhabitants.
When the bus stops at Bregårdsskolan, the location for the evening concert, the musicians eat, change, rig the stage, do the sound check, and start in no time. Around 150 people have found their way to the school assembly hall, average age being sixty plus something, to listen to the tones of Richard, Josef, and Johann Jr Strauss, and composer Constanze Geiger.
Karlskoga born opera-singer Anna-Maria Krawe sings and on Oboe is Malin Klingborg. Conductor Henrik Schaefer guides the audience through the concert in a pedagogic way that inspires, and the story of how he digged deep in the library in Vienna to find a suitable piece to perform by female composer Constanze Geiger is open and inviting.
After the concert, everything is packed back in the accompanying small trucks, musicians in the bus, and within thirty minutes or so the assembly hall is empty as if nothing has happened.
Research has been done to try to prove what art and culture mean to us human beings. At University of Gothenburg you find Centre for Culture and Health, a centre focussing on research and statistics to show the positive connections between culture and health.
It’s hard to say if the audience of this concert got healthier after listening to the orchestra. Or if people are more willing to stay and live in Karlskoga thanks to events like this (another large discussion in Europe). If so, these effects are secondary. First and most, it was a wonderful moment of music.
Writing a few words on an empty piece of paper can be the most difficult thing. The choices of words, constructions, meanings are endless. It seems like an impossible act to write anything of meaning. And yet, when you read a text that just flows it seems so easy. The choices of words and how they are put together becomes like a magic formula that touches your soul.
In the daily Dagens Nyheter last spring (27/4 2013), literary critic Åsa Beckman did an open analysis of one of Swedish poet Birger Sjöberg’s (1885–1929) poems: Varje ord skall andas (my translation: Every word shall breathe). The poem is a beautiful text on the meaning of each word and how they should breathe, live, be strong. ”At attention, each phrase!”, he writes.
Perhaps this is when words become so dangerous to some.
Two Persian poets are now in prison in Iran for what they write; Fateme Ekhtesari and Mehdi Moosavi. And they are not the only ones. ”Poets are highly dangerous”, says the Chair of the Swedish PEN Association, Ola Larsmo, recently in the daily Göteborgs-Posten.
In many of the world’s dictatorships writers, poets, journalists are in prison. The situation for writers around the world has worsened, Ola Larsmo states.
Let the new year of 2014 be the year when they are all set free.
Poem by Birger Sjöberg:
Varje ord skall andas
Varje ord skall andas och sin bröstkorg häva,
varje sats skall kunna ränna kring och stå,
skyldra, gå på tå,
svimma, trängta, sväva.
Det är ej så lätt, att liv av prickar väva,
att i typers prassliga små buskar
låta friska kinder sticka fram.
En sats skall ju bli ett träd, som ruskar,
en en fisk, som spritter,
en ett fågelkvitter,
en en sorgehögtid allvarsam.
Nu giv akt, vart ord!
Dra ej med er slarviga soldater.
Samlas på mitt bord,
alla, friska, starka, levande kamrater.
And a try for a quick translation, without any claim of poetic qualities but just for the English speaking readers to get an idea of the content of the poem:
Every word shall breathe
Every word shall breathe and its chest heave/every sentence shall run around and stow/arms present, tip on toe/faint, yearn, leave/It is not so easy, to life in dots weave/to in types’ rustly small bushes/let fresh cheeks stick out brave/Why a sentence shall be a tree, that swooshes/one a fish, that jitter/one a bird twitter/one a mourning sermon so grave/Now, stand at attention, each phrase!/Don’t pull with you careless soldiers/At my table embrace/all, healthy, strong, living comrades.
A study from the Arts Grant Committee (2010) showed that women within art generally have lower income than their male colleagues. Men’s part of income also increases with higher income figures.
At the same time, women within the art field are more highly educated than their male colleagues, and in comparison with women in the population as a whole.
Looking at income the following are shown.
Visual art have the lowest salaries and are dominated by women, while music has the next highest median income level – and to 70% consists of men. Theatre seems to be the most gender balanced art form with the highest median income level, but also the art form with highest differences in salary due to gender.
A lot more needs to be done when it comes to equality within art and culture, something that the New York-based group Guerrilla Girls have picked up. The following art piece could be seen at this year’s GIBCA (Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art).
So stand tall, fellow Guerrilla Ladies, and don’t let gender and equal rights slip away unnoticed!
Arts Grant Committee, Artists’ Income from a Gender Equality Perspective (Part 2, 2010)
Tayga is an experimental platform for people within arts and cultural in central St Petersburg.
A group of artists managed to convince the landlord to let artists use this large empty building for art production, meeting-places, and networking, instead of leaving it empty and rundown. Art studios, a small shop, meeting rooms, a garden for music and other events, media, video showroom etc have been built up since then. And the deal is simple: The artists pay low rent to keep the facilities in shape.
One of the artists work with video art and mapping in the artistic collective Tundra. Sasha Sinitza has worked with different projects with Tundra, for example they did the interesting piece Void to try to visualize emptiness.
Mapping is becoming more and more interesting and the Tundra has explored this art form to the full extend, showing work both in a four-wall room with four projectors simultaneously working, and on buildings outside.
When Judy Ogana takes the floor to welcome us all, the warmth and pride shines in her face. In the audience are friends, colleagues and partners from East Africa and abroad gathered to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the GoDown Arts Centre in Nairobi together with her, Joy Mboya, and the rest of the staff.
The story of the Godown is impressive, and as Joy Mboya takes us through the vision, steps, ideas, persistence, you realize that this is what running a cultural organization is about: the awareness of the context and society you are part of and your role in it; the dedication for building a strong, vivid, interesting cultural scene; empowerment with capacity-building on the grass-root level; participation, sharing, and networking.
Joy Mboya lifts a few aspects that has been especially important in the GoDown success, which she describes as ”some steps of victory and some steps of challenges”:
1. Getting a space; a multidisciplinary center for the local art and cultural scene in the local community
2. The regional linkages with colleagues in East Africa
3. The strategic plan 2005-2007 as a tool which also set the aim to create a public, innovative, dynamic, and vibrant space
4. Training and development, mobility, exchange, and exposure
5. A strong community orientation
6. Being a mirror of society. The post-election violence in 2007 was a starting-point where the exhibition Kenya Burnings was important. The need for artists to look back and reflect on what’s happening in society.
7. Sustainability and capacity-building focus on artist livelihood
8. Discourse and research
9. The role of cultural spaces in urban living
10. The Creative Entrepreneurship Programme
After the celebrations and the outline of the GoDown Arts Centre’s history and important steps, the East Africa Arts Summit continued discussions with focus on how networking, sharing knowledge, and building a strong art and cultural scene on a regional level could be enhanced.
Nätverkstan and the GoDown Arts Center have been cooperating on capacity-building since 2009, support has been mainly from the Swedish Institute Creative Force programme.
After about one and half hours with bus from St Petersburg on the highway towards Estonia we arrive in the small town of Kaykino. Here Olga Gracheva, former fashion designer and now project manager and business consultant, and Victor Grachev, a sculptor, have decided to live and be part of working for a lively and interesting society in rural areas.
Their home is their project. From the house and garden cultural projects are created, ideas developed, and sculptures formed by artistic hands in material such as stone, wood, metal.
And they involve their neighbours, the children’s culture school, the Agriculture College, and others in Kaykino. It’s about involvement and creating possibilities, because the simple fact is that agriculture is dying and young people move to the big cities.
During a four day visit to St Petersburg, we spend a lot of time discussing what this means. We meet with the Art Academy (Stieglitz), Kuryokhin Center, and the Children’s Culture School in Kaykino as well as the Agriculture College.
The visit was initiated by NGO Creative Project Kaykino in St Petersburg and is supported by the Nordic Culture Fund and included invited guests from Not Quite, Tou Scene (Stavanger), StoneZone, and Nätverkstan. The visit ended with a seminar with invited authorities, a report will be written as the end of this exchange project. A former post you find here.
Kulturchock packed the suitcases with Swedish cultural journals and travelled to Helsinki Book Fair that just took place.
On the airport they met the first (that we have seen) print-on-demand machine for buying periodicals and journals, Meganews. It’s time to check what the deal is and how cultural journals can be part of this very modern way of buying journals.
Sarah Thelwall, a UK consultant on cultural entrepreneurship, took a deep dive into small arts organizations’ difficulties to communicate the value they contribute to society – a value that is rarely counted in profit or money, but in other things.
It’s a difficulty art organizations over the world can recognize.
Put any cultural organization next to statistic measurements, economic outcome, and evaluations with a quantative focus, and culture comes short. So how do you measure intrinsic value?
Many of us within culture are already initiated, we know the value but come short in describing it. It’s like the Swedish artist Staffan Hjalmarsson once said about the lack of measurement methods for culture,: it’s five squares of sorrow. It referred to a report by the Region Västra Götaland where the consultants had evaluated the work within the region’s five focus areas. The other focus areas had facts and figures, but culture glowed all empty and became according to Hjalmarsson: Five squares of sorrow.
Riksutställningar, The Swedish Exhibition Agency, decided to pick up this dilemma of showing the value of culture and has put focus on this during 2013 in seminars and discussions.They have invited Sarah Thelwall to talk about her report and discuss with others in two larger events: Supermarket 2013 in February and now Samtidskonstdagarna in Göteborg on October 18–20.
She wrote the report on commission of Common Practice, an organization based in London and with the aim to focus on small art organizations’ situation.
Riksutställningar translated, in cooperation with Nätverkstan, some of her work into Swedish in a book that just came from the printing presses. Everything to bring light and perspectives on the continuous discussion on describing the value of art for others than those already initiated.
Read also this blogpost on the same book (in Swedish).
Take the tram fifteen minutes from the center of Göteborg – and you arrive in the periphery. At least that’s how many feel if you live in suburbs or areas around the city center. Hammarkullen is one such area outside Göteborg and where many initiatives have started with the aim of bringing the art, culture, and social work done in the area into the spotlight.
Ten Russian visitors representing culture, art, business, and the authorities in St Petersburg is on a tour in Göteborg and Region Västra Götaland with the aim of discussing the role of art, culture, and social work in the rural areas and to address the question of the center versus periphery.
One stop has been meeting people in the area of Hammarkullen, with visits to different initiatives such as Hammarkullen365, Folkets Hus, and the local radio. Another Nätverkstan located in the city center, and then visits to the artistic workshop for sculpture, textile, ceramics, to artist Lukas Arons and his sculpture precincts, and Gerlesborgsskolan (School of Gerlesborg) along the coast-line. And today the visit is to the artistic collective Not Quite in the very small town of Fengersfors, a two and a half hours drive NorthEastly from Göteborg.
The visit was initiated by NGO Creative Project Kaykino in St Petersburg and is supported by the Nordic Culture Fund. Next step is to Stavanger in Norway, and the project ends with a seminar in St Petersburg in November.
See here a former post on the topic of center vs periphery.
Today the Scene for Literature opened, or the Literature House, as Madeleine Bergmark put it in her opening speech of the inauguration in Lagerhuset (Warehouse).
The road to a new literary scene in Göteborg has been bumpy and particularly around where it should be located. Should a new house be built or is it a better idea to let it rest among already existing initiatives? And if so, with which existing scene? Glances were sent to Norway, where an ambitious new House for Literature in Oslo was opened in 2007.
In 2011 Ingrid Elam, a well-known literature critic in Sweden, got the assignment from the Administration of Culture in the City of Göteborg to investigate the possibilities of establishing a House for Literature in Göteborg.
The reason was that the conditions for literature are changing in a rapid pace and establishing a scene for literature seemed like a proper cultural policy action (also on state level this was done in 2012, a public investigation called Läsandets kultur, Culture of Reading).
Ingrid Elam came to four different suggestions, where two of them was weighing pros and cons of building a new house or building on already existing initiatives with focus on the independent and small-scale literary scene.
Lagerhuset (Warehouse), an old warehouse in central Göteborg right by the canal, for many felt like the natural location for a scene for literature. The building is already part of a vivid small-scale and independent cultural and literary scene housing several cultural journals and small publishing houses; a larger membership-based production space for journals; the Poetry Festival; education; and in the ground floor the scene for young creators, Frilagret. It’s a house that since 1999 host small cultural organizations with focus on cultural journals and literature.
It was also one of Ingrid Elam’s four suggestions, although not the main proposal. The Cultural Committee decided to place the House for Literature in an already existing structure: Lagerhuset. The House is organizationally under the City Library, they got two trial years and 1 million SEK (approximately 116000 euro) per year. Then the idea is that the independent scene in Göteborg takes over.
Last week and week-end the yearly literary event in Göteborg took place; The Nordic Book Fair.
As always, Nätverkstan was there with our cultural journals in focus. The audience magnet was no surprise. We had the honour of having the two journalists, Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye, in the stand talking about there newly released book from 438 days in Ethiopian prison.
It’s sometimes awakening to look at your own organization with critical eyes to see what will crystallize. Are we doing interesting things or just reproducing old stuff?
The risk is always to start reproducing and react, rather than producing and be proactive as the organization is passing the pioneer times to the more stable middle-age. Although ”stable” is not the most proper word within the cultural field; a field surrounded by uncertainties, flexibility, and changing political strands. But nevertheless. Self-criticism can be useful.
On the Nätverkstan Kick-off this year, the gathering of all staff-members to kick-start after vacations, this was on the agenda.
What norms and assumptions exist within the organization that effect how we work, who we work with, and what we do? The perspective was norm-criticism which means that we focus on the structure, rather than individuals. We look at power, which means questioning the norms that exist which influence our judgement on what is considered normal and therefore unreflected is considered desirable.
Around ten different norms where put up on large charts of paper, and we then discussed what is behind these norms? Are they true or not? What visible effects might they have? Is that good or bad?
Useful times spent with a great group of people at the magic Kärlingesunds Gård last week.
Learn more of Nätverkstan here: NV_English_2013.pdf.
A weekend in Göteborg full of films, seminars, discussions, and art works on the water situation in the world. The inauguration film Friday night, Like Fireflies, a film describing the consequences and human tragedies due to privatization of water resources in Chile, was the first of many important voices shown Friday through Sunday.
The festival, Voices from the Waters, is an initiative from Bangalore Film Society and has been running parallel in Göteborg this year with Nätverkstan, Världskulturmuseet (Museum of World Culture), Sjöfartsmuseet Akvariet (Maritime Museum & Aquarium) and funding from Region Västra Götaland.
Today was the final day and the festival ended with a debate on the situation of water with EU Parliamentarian Isabella Lövin, and researchers Henrik Svedäng and Sverker Jagers.
First gathering of the Culture Incubator after Summer breaks started today with focus on relationship building and marketing your project idea. Invited guest was freelancer David Andréas, now working as Art Director at an agency in Göteborg.
The Cultural Incubator is a project run by Nätverkstan, which is part of the larger project called Projekt Utveckling Nordost (Development North East), and aims to support people with ideas. The selected eighteen people come in with their ideas and over a six month period they get a chance to develop these to be more sustainable.
The project started in beginning of the year, and the development of each of the different ideas is really exciting. In November all projects are presenting their ideas for a larger audience of decision makers, representatives from the authorities, and other stakeholders.
Read more here.
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