Archive for april, 2008

New ideas

On the website you find ”Ideas worth spreading”, a collection of inspiring talks from of all sorts of people and celebrities; speakers that talk about everything from the story of the long tail, design as art, digging for ants, health-care issues, the new generation of African leaders, climate changes, the building of US design firm IDEO and many other things.

On links below you find for example Charles Leadbeater, researcher from London-based think tank Demos; David Kelley, who started the Design firm IDEO; and Chris Anderson, editor of Wired and author of the book ”The Long Tail”.

David Kelley

Charles Leadbeater

Chris Anderson

25 april, 2008

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How big is your world?

How do world cultures relate to the multifaceted process that we call globalization? Can we achieve greater knowledge and awareness of these issues in our own activities through interdisciplinary thinking and intercultural cooperation? In what way does globalization influence national cultural policy?

These were issued discussed at an interesting seminar with the titel ”How big is your world? Cultural Policy and Globalization” a at the Museum of World Culture in Göteborg, Sweden, on April 10th. The seminar was based on the project The Cultures and Globalisation Series, which has resulted in impressive first and second volumes of ”Conflict and Tensions” and coming ”Cultural Economy”. Several speakers were invited such as Yudhishthir Raj Isar from the American University of Paris; Stefan Jonsson, writer and journalist in Sweden; Mikael Franzén, a Swedish political economist; Chris Waterman from UCLA School of the Arts in Los Angeles; Zala Volcic from the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies at University of Queensland and several others.

The first and second volume of ”Conflict and Tensions” and some information of the publication is found at the following website:

18 april, 2008

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Innovation and gaps

Everything in Turkey is self-organised from low to top level, from artist to the state” an artist tells us with a sigh. The biggest challenge in Istanbul for artists today is sustainability. Economic sustainability. There is no public funding for art and no social welfare system for artists. The art space we are shown by two artists, is only very temporary, they use it for free until the landlord needs it. With other jobs _mg_4893p.jpgon the side they can pay their living costs, but their main focus and identity is the artistic work. They do projects that in the local context both educate an audience for contemporary art and stress the situation for the artists and society. They are pushing limits, putting forward issues ignored by political structures and exploring phenomena in society.

Many of the artists we meet talk about their extremely difficult situation. There is no infrastructure for art and culture. There is hardly an audience. This needs to be educated along the way. Most cultural initiatives that find economic support, do this among private money. Everything from small projects to the new Istanbul Modern Museum is supported by private money. There is no infrastructure – and there is no control. Unless, of course, you do something in the borderline of Turkish law saying that you are not allowed to offend the nation of Turkey or the ”Turkishness”. Many authors are still today, 2008, prosecuted according to this law.

Urban growth in Istanbul exploded after the 1950s and has created an organic growth of the city – something that must be every city planners’ nightmare. What was a few years ago small cities in the periphery of Istanbul, is today part of the city. It puts pressure on the infrastructure where public transport, shops, medical care need to be built in order to be in reach for all citizens. Around seventy percent of all buildings in Istanbul are either illegal or partly illegal constructions, we are told. Each year half a million people decide to move to Istanbul to look for jobs or change their lives. To try to count all inhabitants is impossible, figures _mg_5179.JPGvaries from an official 10 million people to a more unofficial number of around 20 million people. There is a lack of basic infrastructure in society and it’s definitely lacking for artists and cultural entrepreneurs.

Cultural innovation grows in gaps in society. Where there are rapid changes, unfixed structures, there are room for entrepreneurs. The economist Joseph Schumpeter called this “creative destruction”; when old structures are destroyed, new things grow. He even said that old structures need to be destroyed, to let new ideas, knowledge and structures grow. Entrepreneurs are essential; people open to change, with a creative drive and visionary ideas. People that do the unexpected and push traditional limits. Like the artists we meet in Istanbul.

What is the connection between Schumpeter’s theory of creative destruction and the artistic entrepreneurs in Istanbul? If cultural entrepreneurship is part of building a society in transformation, what infrastructure is needed to support this? What decisions need to be made by politicians? Creative industries are widely considered as a driving force for transformation of rundown cities. But not much is done. As Dr Justin O’Connor in Leeds (UK) say ”…scratch the surface and it becomes clear that very few policymakers are paying proper attention to the health of the sector – an attitude that may have direct economic consequences”.

The seminars and study visits in Istanbul, Turkey, in February 2008, was part of the Nomadic University, Nurope. Istanbul was the fifth oasis. Information is found on: Photos taken by Reino Koivula, Turku, Finland.

The quote from Dr Justin O’Connor is found in ”Creative cities. The role of creative
Industries in regeneration”. Renewal Intelligence Report, Northwest, April 2006.

10 april, 2008

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Where will I be when I grow up?

In the European net magazine Eurozine you can read a very interesting article by the sociologist and freelance writer Klaus Ronneberger:

“Interns, temporary agency workers, people on job creation schemes, and pseudo-freelances make up the vast reserve army of workers in precarious employment. For the majority, standards such as productivity or flexibility have become second nature. In this respect, they are the avant-garde of post-Fordism, constantly opening up new avenues of self-exploitation.”

It was written a bout a year ago but when I read the last report from the Swedish Public Employment Service Cultural department it came back to me. We are closely approaching the end of an era. If you work in the cultural field you must be a freelancer or a self employed. Some statistics:

From Sweden:
In the cultural field the self-employed staff is increasing by 10-15 % every year (p 6-8). All of the growth within this sector is with and by self-employed and freelances.

From Germany (From Ronneberger):
In the 1980s over 80 per cent of musicians had permanent jobs, but within twenty years this proportion had dropped to 54 per cent. The number of actors with full-time jobs dropped from 76 per cent to 58 per cent during the same period.

The trend is clear. When I grew up I will be self-employed or a freelancer. Is that a problem? Well If you are a liberal and believe in choices this is a problem. If an entire sector is filled with projects run by self-employed each and every organisation will lose its memory. Further on will there be problems if the University and other educational institutions don’t provide the skills necessary for the workforce they educate. In this era new skills are needed:

•  Mobility
•  Networking
•  Competence for organising your own work processes
•  Strategic marketing of Yourself as a brand
•  Relational skills and social competence necessary for the “I- company” to stay on the market

We run an education,, which is in the middle of this situation. We are small, quite new and unhierarchical. Do we like this situation? Well, it is much like the Greenhouseeffect. In some way it is contested, i.e. does it really exist? But if you have the feeling that the weather becomes worse and worse it might very well be so. The political changes the last 30 years has put us in this situation. The end of the Keynesian era, globalisation, the neoliberal revolution and the postpolitical dilemma are all true facts. It has changed the working market forever. Of course are there both pro’s and con’s. It has in some ways increased the possibilities for social mobility class wise. On the negative side: How are people supposed to pursue long-term goals if they constantly have to re-organise their lives and re-orient themselves?

Or to put it in an other way – We must learn to understand the dialectics of the postfordist society. We as an education must be in the forefront of this understanding. Otherwise will we loose both ourselves, but more importantly the future of our students.

The title of this text is an adaptation from the Swedish painter Peter Tillbergs ”Blir du lönsam, lille vän?”. This painting is in many ways the best description of the school politics of the fordist society. A remake of today would describe a single individual in the classroom. The face will surely look the same but today the collective is gone.

Further reading:
Klaus Ronnebergers text in Eurozine:
The long-term report from the Swedish Public Employment Service Cultural department (in Swedish):

Peter Tillbergs painting is available to buy as a poster from Moderna Museet in Stockholm:

4 april, 2008

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Lotta Lekvall
Director of Nätverkstan, a Cultural Organisation in Sweden. Nätverkstan provides services …

Cultural and Social Entrepreneurship

On this blog we would like to explore entrepreneurship from a cultural and social point of view. Or rather put forward entrepreneurial initiatives within these two fields.




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