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To get more views of the on going financial crisis, have a look at two articles in The New York Review of Books. One by Paul Krugman, Professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton, and Nobel Prize Winner in Economics in 2008, on the title What to Do. The other by George Soros, a financial speculator, investor and Chair of Soros Fund Management (and known for breaking the Bank of England in 1992) on The Crisis & What to Do About It.
Combine our former note on the newly released book The Cultural Economy, by reading the interview of one of its editors, Yudhishthir Raj Isar. The interview is found on the blog of Tobias Nielsén and Emma Stenström (unfortunately this interesting site is only in Swedish).
”The application forms for European Structural Funds, regional development funds and local authority funds demand a justification for our activity in a language better suited to the creation of a business park, requiring us to present art not as an intrinsic cultural expression but as a measurement of economic activity”.
Clymene Christoforou writes the reflection in the new volume of The Cultures and Globalization series, The Cultural Economy. She is director of ISIS Art, a visual arts organisation in the North of England, and ends her short comment with ”(–) I wonder what new languages we will need to learn to create a space for art in the future”.
In the second volume of the series the editors Helmut Anheier and Yudhishthir Raj Isar is addressing cultural economy and have asked people from mainly academia but also practitioners, up comers and artists, to address a set of critical questions following the topic. The result is over six hundred pages with twenty-eight contributions from different perspectives and contexts together with an ambitious part of ”Indicator suites” with figures in different diagrams. In the very beginning Stuart Cunninghan, John Banks and Jason Potts line out four models of the relation of culture and the economy in the chapter ”Cultural Economy: The shape of the field”. The welfare model, the competitive model, the growth model, and the innovation model suggest an interesting analytical framework for anyone who would like to try to understand the area of art, creative economy, cultural economy, creativity, innovation and the relation with the economy as a whole.
How does cultural economy relate to the rest of the economy? Is it at all discussed outside the cultural field? Last weekend world leaders from the twenty most significant economies in the world met in Washington to discuss the financial crises. The Swedish journalist Erik Ohlsson noted in his article in the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter that the outcome of the meeting was perhaps not so thrilling, but still it was historical. It showed the beginning of a new era, where the western society countries have to move aside and give place to their former colonies, now countries with growing economies. Perhaps culture could have a more significant place in this new economic order?
“Innovation has no large-scale production capacity, it happens in the small-scale initiatives”. Bo Öhrström, developer and cultural planner in Göteborg, describes his work finding the “white spots”, initiatives not visible at first sight, in a local milieu. What significance do they have for an area? In 2006 the project Faktor X started, run by Bo Öhrström and Annika Ottosson at the Region Västra Götaland to look into what the X factor in a local context was; what was the factors making some milieus flourish while others didn’t? The “white spots” were of significance, the study showed. “It’s like looking for the sparrows of the recession”, Bo Öhrström said, and made a comparison when he as a young student were looking for small-scale entrepreneurial initiatives within culture in a time of financial difficulties in Sweden. People around him wondered what on earth he was doing and why he didn’t but his effort into something more lucrative.
Yesterday (Nov 11) the Region Västra Götaland held their first conference with the 49 municipalities of the region invited. 450 people, politicians, civil servants and cultural practitioners, were gathered to discuss and listen to the capacity of culture in the local municipalities and on regional level. The winners of the day were the artists and project managers running projects against all odds, like meeting-places for youngsters in the suburbs that had been put down by politicians, and artistic processes in small cities (around 3600 inhabitants) like Bengtsfors. They were the white spots finally get the spotlight they deserved. Let’s hope it also means some money, so they can continue their work. As the project manager Merima Muharemovic put it on the question of what do politicians need, in form of character or to be good decision makers? “The question is not what they need, the question is: What need politicians do to win my confidence back”.
Read the report from the project Faktor X (In Swedish) here: fyrbodal-faktor-x-slutrapport.pdf.
Should libraries be run as entreprises? And what does it mean for library services if they do? On a conference arranged by Axiell Library Group at Dieselverkstan in Stockholm, librarians from Sweden, Finland and UK have spent the past two days turning and tossing these questions. Examples of libraries that are run with a more entrepreneurial style, as Dieselverkstan in Stockholm, was put forward, as well as examples from London (UK) where changes of libraries has been on the agenda for some time. The goal is genereous opening hours, more visitors and to get people to loan more books.
Perhaps the most interesting and challenging work was done by the Library Manager, Rebekka Pilppula, from Joensuu City Library in Finland. Joensuu is a small region on the border to Russia in North Karelia, with only a about a hundred thousand inhabitants. They are facing a decline in inhabitants, young people move out, the staying inhabitans are just getting older, and unemployment rates are high and growing. The situation for the library was, thus, difficult and they have had a challenge in motivating politicians, renew, and find new ways of being relevant to the inhabitants. They did an amazing job in turning the situation for the library into a positive trend.
Nätverkstan held a contribution to the conference, on the topic ”The interaction between culture and entrepreneurship”. The power point is found here: CultureEntrepreneur081107.pdf, the script can be downloaded here:Library Conference081107.pdf.
With Barack Obama in power the future looks a little bit brighter. But the challenges for him are huge, to say it mildly. One of the greatest challenges for him and other global leaders are The Millennium Development goals. The goals in itself is not controversial today – but the question is how to get there. Some says aid, some says trade. Others are more radical. Many puts a great blame on the European agricultural subsidies. A very interesting and thoughtful campaign is Help Sweden. By reversing our way of thinking (especially on Africa) it helps us to understand what’s at stake. Please check it out and, if you agree, sign.
Change has been the leading word for the campaign of Barack Obama, who last night (Swedish time) was elected new president of the USA. It has been interesting to follow his campaign, and in the Rolling Stone Magazine earlier this year an article described the thoughts behind his campaign organisation. Obama had at a very early stage decided to run the campaign in an untraditional way, and set it up more as a business organisation. He also wanted a strong focus on being accessible to the public and with user-friendly contact points. New media had a central role in this. On the Swedish radio this morning, a Swedish man called in and described with pride in his voice, that he had just gotten a thank-you mail from Obama. He had at an early stage become a member on one of the web-possibilities, where he could send in emails, ask questions and show his support.
The email this morning was from Obama to personally thank him for his commitment. Although the man was well aware that millions of people probably got emails like that, and could not be personally written by Barack Obama, he was very touched. It made him feel appreciated and his very small involvement in the campaign recognised by the newly elected president. Digitalisation is sometimes described as a threat to personal meetings and empathy, talking about the risk of people and organisations becoming more and more anonymous. In this case it apparently had the opposite effect.
A short text on Obamas campaign was published here in July this year.
After circling around the area for quite some time, looking in all small streets, our driver finally finds Kathalya. We are welcomed by three of the active women, and more drop in as our meeting goes on. The office is set in a residential area in Bangalore, where they have room for an office, a small library and a roof-top area for larger meetings and workshops.
Kathalya focus on storytelling as a pedagogical method in schools with small children. They work in the state of Karnataka, in both rural and urban schools, although focus seem to be on the rural areas outside Bangalore. Storytelling is not a new thing, it’s an old tradition in the Indian society (as in many others), but to use it as a pedagogical method to understand and help in schoolwork is relatively new. Imagine to understand math through a story of animals, or start talk about environmental issues through a short story of water, rain and children wanting to play in the puddles. The experience from Kathalya is that this works very well and is a help for many children in understanding and relating schoolwork to societal issues.
Kathalya also offers workshop for teatchers, to help them use storytelling more in teaching. Every story is very well planned; context, schoolsubject, age of children and so forth are weighed in the planning process to create the best result.
The delegation to Bangalore is part of the newly formed exchange of knowledge and experience between the Swedish Region Västra Götaland and Karnataka.
Nätverkstan will during the period October 2008-January 2009 assist LSU (The National Council of Swedish Youth Organisations) in a training project. We will assist the Swedish TPT- team in a process of development from a group of competent individuals to project team. Tackling Poverty Together is a project with the aim of realizing the millennium development goals. The Tackling Poverty Together project aims to strengthen the role of young people in poverty reduction strategies. Twenty-eight youth participants have been selected to attend the workshops, four from each of the following countries: Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Sweden, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Nätverkstan will only work with the Swedish team. From Nätverkstan is Olav Fumarola Unsgaard in charge.
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