Archive for juli, 2008

Composers in Lyon, France

If you walk into the backyard of Rue de Garet in Lyon, you find Grame, a center for production, creation and in-residence grame.JPGprogrammes for composers and musicians. Grame is part of a larger structure for contemporary musicians and composers in France, Les Centres de Création Musicale. By putting together composers and musicians with new technology, the capabilities of Internet, and with artists from all sorts of artistic professions, new music is created. The composer, they argue, is no longer a solitaire, alone with an empty sheet of paper. New opportunities has opened, which have widened their role. The centers work with several activities in combination; the process of creating music, research, residence programmes, training, production and realising projects like festivals and concerts, international exchanges, and cooperation with a wide variety of artistic groups.

Lyon is also hosting the next conference of the European network Encatc, on ”Intercultural Dialogue and Project Managament: New training programmes in a context of major challenges” on 16–18 of October. On the last Board meeting, placed at Grame in Lyon, the final planning was made.lyon.JPGboardmeeting.jpg

24 juli, 2008

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Migration and entrepreneurs

”Heeey, let’s see who we got here….” the hip-hop performer on the Californian hot spot Venice Beach looks around ”Now, who do we got here…I like all people, no matter what color of the skin you have”. He takes another glance and starts moving around, pointing with energy at the crowd slowly gathering with some hesitation. ”White people”, he shakes a man’s hand ”Black people, just like myself. Ahhh, asian img_6526.JPGpeople…Welcome!” He throws a great smile at an Asian guy ”And Mexican people” looks around again and put out his hand for another handshake ”and Mexican, Mexican and Mexican again…many Mexicans” A smile, the crowd is giggling ”You’re all very welcome to my show!”

Mexican people holds California under its arms. And you find them everywhere; in the crowds on Venice, at construction sites, as nannies, cleaning hotels, running Mexican foodplaces, pruning treas at vineyards, emptying trashbins, cleaning pools, driving taxi. Mexican immigrants represent the largest immigration group in United States, according to statistics. For many the situation is difficult, especially for those who came over illegally somewhere along the 1,125 kilometer long boarder between the US and Mexico. Between 1990 and 2002, the legal population from Mexico roughly doubled, while the undocumented population grew by 165 percent. In 2006 more than 11,5 million Mexican immigrants resided in US. Most came to California, Texas, Illinois and Arizona. As long as Mexico has a high unemployment rate, people will continue to try their luck in the larger country in north.

The average Californian inhabitant pay the paycheck to her Mexican poolman with one hand, and with the other put up a warning finger as she talks with friends of what will happen if Mexicans continue to come to US in the same speed. And as they drive in cities and on streets with spanish-sounding names, probably more the heritage of the Spanish rule than the Mexican, they don’t take notice of the spanish-speaking people struggling on the highway side cleaning it. It’s one of those contradictions where in the mid eighteen hundreds, Mexican Governement for a short period of time ruled California and gave away land to the California Mexicans to settle. They lost their land fairly quickly and today, immigrating to the US in legal ways has become nearly impossible. Ilegally, people still try, even though it’s a life-threatening action. Most of the boarder is an unwelcoming desert, where you without water have no chance to survive. The American Governements solution to this problem and to stop the constant flow of people illegally climbing over, is to build an even stronger and higher fence along the boarder.

Mr McNulty from the Americans for the Arts said on a seminar earlier this spring (read here) that 40% of all small businesses in the US is formed by immigrants. In Sweden the figure is about the same. If a country would like to promote entrepreneurship, taking care of the multicultural society seems to be one way of making sure that new businesses will start. For a country with economic crisis, as America is in right now, new small businesses can be one way of creating new jobs and hope for the future. Immigrants have a key role in this. Mr McNulty was very clear on what he saw as necessary, and asked ”What blocks need to be removed in your society to welcome these people?” What blocks need to be removed? Not, as in the case of the American and Mexican boarderline, the building of new ones.

Read articles ”The Great Wall of America” in Time, June 30 2008, and ”A turning tide” and ”Living together” in The Economist, June 28-July 4 2008.

At Migration Information Source researchers, policy makers and journalists write on immigration trends in the world. Read ”Mexican Immigration to the US: latest estimates” and Mexican Immigrants in the US.

Also watch the movie ”Babel” directed by Alejandro Gonzáles Inárritu, which deals with this issue.

16 juli, 2008

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Web, technique and alternative thinking

Two days after the visit in the Apple store in Colorado to get help with a broken computer-battery, we got an e-mail in the inbox asking if we were happy with the service we got. A link to a website was provided, which in a few seconds directed us to a fill-in form on the web, where we easily could write down our opinion and send it back. As a customer you felt they were very interested in your opinion, in our case even though we never bought anything. We got the battery for free.

When Barack Obama, the Democratic Presidential Candidate, set together his campaign organization, it’s said he wanted it to be different than traditional ones. He wanted the organization to be ”buttoned up like a business” combined with a voter-friendly grass-root attitude. A look at the website of Barack Obama shows that you can contact him, or the campaign organization, through e-mail, Facebook, Linkedin, Myspace, Flickr, BlackPlanet, Twister and other web networks. One of the factors behind the success of Obama’s campaign so far, is said to be his openness to critique and direct feedback from people on the street, from participants on convents to colleagues at his office. The tool for public use is an interactive and informative website where access to the candidate never appears to be far away. You get the feeling he is actually interested in your opinion.

Three components seem to be essential in an innovative approach, no matter if you run a cultural organisation, a business or build a campaign organization for President. Three entities that combined have the potential of creating new things: The latest in technical solutions and the World Wide Web; An open and low-hierarchical top-bottom organizational structure; and a creative working atmosphere.

At Pixar Animation Studios, the high profile technical solutions and constant pushing of new mathematical solutions for animated moves on the screen, combined with a continuously challenged creativity and open atmosphere, is said to be the key factors for success. At Namac, a small art and media organisation in San Francisco, the new website is built according to the newest ideas of interactivity. This is hoped to better involve members between meetings and to get direct feedback on their activities.

The working atmosphere and low levels between top and bottom is put forward by businesses like IDEO and Pixar Animation Studios. A working atmosphere of being casual, but deadly serious about quality and getting the work done is something many refer to as a typical Silicon Valley attitude. And you find it in many of the most innovative companies in US today. Apple started in Silicon Valley, the idea of Google was formed at Stanford University in the same area and the Design firm IDEO was founded there. It’s not suprising that Barack Obama showed such an interest in Google and in November 2007 decided to unveil his innovation agenda at one of their offices. The Campaign organization that he runs is most certainly inspired by the Silicon Valley attitude. It’s said to be open for initiatives, relatively casual, and deadly serious about quality and getting the work done on deadline.

Read about Barack Obama’s Campaign Organization in Rolling Stone, issue July 10-24, 2008.
Read about our study visits to Pixar Animation Studios, IDEO and Namac on this website.
Apple at Wikipedia and Google at Wikipedia.

12 juli, 2008

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Pixar Animation Studios

For the movie Finding Nemo, 43.536 storyboards were presented during the three year period it took to make the film. The full movie was screened five times for an invited audience until the result was satisfying for the team. At Pixar Animation Studios they are constantly creatively challenged. The storyboarding process is all about building an idea, pitch it for the creative team, get critique and re-do it. img_6138.jpgWhen screening the films, the interaction is direct. Critique is not about being polite, but say what you think. Details are important. An idea is finished when they feel a hundred percent sure that the result is exactly what they want. Intuition is a driving force. In the book The art of Wall-E Andrew Stanton, director and writer , describes the process: ”If you challenge yourself with each artistic endeavor, always aiming beyond your comfort zone, you invariably become a student of your own work…”. On the team directors, artists, sculptors, actors, writers, designers, editors and animators work in collaboration: drawings are done by several people and a story is very much a product built with team-work.“The atmosphere at Pixar is casual. But deadly serious when it comes to quality”.

Eric Pearson, Post Production Manager, meet us in the lobby. Two things strikes you when stepping in through the doors at Pixar. The lobby is a very large open space at the center of the building. It’s planned as the meetingplace for both visitors and the employees. img_6094.jpgIt’s a place where you eat lunch, meet over a cup of coffee in the lounge sofas or just run into each other as you move around between the film theatre, the second floor, coffee and drinks, and the reception. The second thing is how quickly they put up exhibitions of the work behind the films. Wall-E, the newest film, just opened at the film theatres in US. Walking at Pixar, everything is already exposed in the exhibition: example of storyboards, sculptors, products, sketches and small stories of how the film was built.

In New York Times’ Sunday Book Review there is a review of the new book telling the story of Pixar The Pixar touch. The Making of a Company. Writer Michael Hirschorn, argues in the article, that what is striking about Pixar’s history is that the whole thing with computer animation in the beginning seemed provisional. The entrepreneurs starting it kept on working, even though no-one believed in it, driven by an intuitive feeling that this was what they wanted to do. They were, as Hirschorn puts it, “entrepreneurs seeing clarity where others saw only fog”.

Also look at New York Times’ critic A.O. Scott, where he is reviewing Pixar’s movies.img_6099.jpgimg_6110.jpgimg_6129.jpg

2 juli, 2008

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

Cultural and Social Entrepreneurship

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