Archive for april, 2009

Skifte – Reflections around work and everyday life

How do we look at work and employment? What is our relationship to working? How does time linger after people left? How do our perception and dreams change as we grow up? Are we prepared to do anything to reach our goals? What is meaningful work?

Skifte is a collective digital exhibition with filmmakers, animators, photographers, artists and poets, who all reflect on the theme work. Nine pieces showing different aspects and expressions, putting forward questions rather than answers. The exhibition is part of Medieverkstäderna i Väst, a collective of digital workshops in Region Västra Götaland, where members are visual artists, editors, photographers, poets and film makers.

Curator has been Stina Karlsdóttir Vestrin, who is also a student at Kulturverkstan. In the folder coming with the exhibition she writes:

”The fact that our work is one of the things forming us, building our identity and creating a community in a social context, we can all agree on, work is a central part of our lives. I would like, with this exhibition, to do some pounces in everyday working life and lift reflections around its structure. What is a job? What is a good job? Why do we work and what makes an honourable day’s work? The same occupation can in some cases be a job and in others not. In today’s society it’s more and more important to be adaptable and flexible on a more and more demanding labour market at the same time as the boarders between working life and leisure is erased. Working conditions is  constantly shifting and each time as its problems to solve.

The war of ants has disappeared from our TVs. The digital era has its own noise, its own war, other ants. Internet is today an obvious part of labour market. Fifteen years ago you hardly knew what it was, yet it has since changed labour for many people all over the world. It also affects those workers who don’t have access to computers. A shift has taken place. Changes can sneak on you slowly without us understanding a shift is on its way. What happens to our jobs? The new is growing out of the old, breaking out from it, against it, want to be free. It is in this contradiction that we find other ways and tramp our own tracks.”

The exhibition will be touring in Region Västra Götaland and is on Internet 25 of April to 24 of May 2009. Look at www.skifte.se and click for English. Download (in Swedish) the catalogue here: skifte_katalog.

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27 april, 2009

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Forum for Creative Regions and Cities

Committee of the Regions, a political assembly giving local and regional authorities within EU a voice within the EU structure, arranged a two-day meeting in Brussels on 20 – 21 of April. More than four hundred participants gathered, together with a hundred invited ”young talents” from many parts of Europe, to discuss what makes regions and cities creative, what would make Europe more creative and together with practical examples both in panels and study visits around Brussels.

The first panel discussion addressed the question ”What makes regions and cities creative?”. A crucial question for EU-Commission if the aim of the year of creativity and innovation is supposed to give results in more innovation and affect economy in a positive way. Many things were put forward, both by the panel, and also by the many young entrepreneurs, cultural practitioners and students in the audience. Why doesn’t education in Europe have more ideas about how to foster creativity? How come the visionary eyes of the young child is gone in the eyes of grown-ups? What happens going through the educational system? Many Art Educations are quite conservative, how could these change? How can Artists and politicians work more together? Are there educational tools to be used? Where do you turn to if you have ideas of something to start?

On the question ”If you get to choose, what is the priority action at EU level?” the answer was unison: Get rid of the blocks in EU, make access to EU money less bureaucratic!

A crucial question if the hopes of creative economy is to come true. There is also a close link between the year of intercultural dialogue in EU last year, and the year of creativity and innovation. If new creative ideas are to happen, the wide variety of competence, skills, cultural and ethnic backgrounds need to be addressed and taken care of in a different way than is done today. There are hopes that the creative field will be the new savior in the financial crisis. Perhaps it will be. But only if you do a correct analysis of the field, understand how running organisations, Artistic practice, projects work, using the competence in the field to find the right incentives to catalyze the potential – there are of course an enormous potential. If you don’t, and get stuck in policies and the overestimated perception of what creativity and innovation is, it will be more difficult. There is a balancing act that needs to be performed.

Artist Jörgen Svensson represented Region Västra Götaland with the project Art and Politics and the project Community Art Lab formed together with Nätverkstan, a project based on using creative processes as a tool for city development. Interesting projecs were for instant FIRST innovation Park in Brno, Czech Republic, and the housing project led by Territorial and Urban Development of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain, led together with Mia Hägg, an archtiect in Paris running Habiter Autrement. Urbact, European Programme for Urban Sustainability, just launched a report that can be found on the website.

The Community Art Lab project will soon be posted on this website. Other posts connected to this are for instand Robert McNulty from America for the Arts, on Migration and Entrepreneurs, the seminar in Barcelona in January on the same topic, and examples from India. A programme of the seminar can be downloaded here CreativeCitiesRegions16-04-09. Encatc had a smaller seminar in the afternoon of the 21st of April to continue the discussion, with interesting inputs from Pascale Bonniel Charier of experiences from Grand Lyon and Donato Guiliani from Region Nord Pas de Calais. Download the programme for the Encatc seminar here seminar_encatc090421.

23 april, 2009

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The Legacy of Mourning

Venu Dhupa, Jane Wildgoose and the Memorial Library

Jane Wildgoose’s home is to the brim filled with collected things of different sorts. A horse cranium is placed on a shelf together with Indian statuettes, a prisma of glass, medical pots and a small replica of the coffin of Lord Nelson. Over it all, a stuffed raven enthrones together with a crocodile. All rooms in her typical English terraced house groan with memories.

”I have been thinking a lot about the history of mourning and in which way things can create support and comfort. Twenty years ago people didn’t want to speak about this, but now lots of people come here, some in mourning clothes.”

She started building her Mourning Library eight years ago, the collection is still growing. Starting point was that she wanted to use hair in her Artistic work, and she discovered how many memories the human material was carrying. Memory and death have since been her main theme. It’s very Victorian, which gives an extra dimension: The societal idea about death and sorrow that is now lost.

Jane Wildgoose has, Venu Dhupa says, in a very conscious way showed the power of pedagogic; on how you can work with existential issues with a planned working method. That’s why she five years ago could convince National Endowment of Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta) to put in project support in the Wildgoose Memorial Library. This is a difficult issue, Venu Dhupa says:

”You always need to create a structure, but it doesn’t have to be a scientific one. It might as well be a structure that is created as you go, by following your heart. We are not aiming for the results, but what is happening during the process.”

img_0074The Wildgoose Memorial Library was the start to continue the reflection of how you create creative environments that can handle risk and uncertainty. That is why Venu Dhupa, on the assignment of British Council, created a competence development course on issues like how you deal with risk and create an environment that can handle uncertainty. How do you deal with risk in a responsible way? How do you adjust to different – sometimes extremely difficult – circumstances?

”It is now, today, we are creating the inhabitants of tomorrow. And in the contemporary society you have to be able to deal with a duality, and not rarely also sorrow and sentimentality, and still, in the 21st century these are taboo issues in society.”

The secret, Venu Dhupa continues, behind creating a creative working climate and creative leadership is called ”mixed groups”. The people in India know this best! Why is someone in London telling what is best in China?

”I am working with small teams all around the world and send their results back home. In that way we have created a real global working method. I am working with six different groups in six countries. Each group consists of a large amount of different nationalities. I say it again: Think outside the box!”

After working with multicultural issues for over ten years, Venu Dhupa has a clear picture of what is needed to do to: From a bottom-up perspective achieve a heterogenic society that consists of many voices.

”We treat the ethnical groups like consumers, not like creators. The measurement is consumption! But what happens if we are serious with everyone’s possibility to create on equal terms?”

We don’t give our politicians time enough to reflect on these issues, she says, and therefore we get the response from politicians that we deserve.

”We don’t get intelligent answers from our political sausage machine! George Bush (who was) the busiest man of the world played golf 95 days out of his first year as president!”

The text is written by Ylva Gustafsson, secretary at Region Västra Götaland. The visit in London on March 3–6, 2009, was part of a study visit by politicians and civil servants from Region Västra Götaland. Nätverkstan was a connecting partner for the Region on this visit. Related blogpost is on Other Art and other practices and Bangalore.

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17 april, 2009

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Cultural Leadership

”Running cultural institutions and cultural projects of tomorrow into the 21st century will put new demands on leaders. Competencies as flexibility, risk taking, courage, intercultural awareness and international outlook are increasing in importance for leaders in organisations.”

Eight leaders of important cultural organisations and institutions in Sweden gathered in a think tank last November to discuss leadership omslag_2within Art and culture and the idea of a Cultural Leadership Award in Sweden. The results are put forward by Nätverkstan in the newly published report on cultural leadership: ”To lead Art into the Future. An idea to develop leadership within culture” (in Swedish ”Att leda konsten in i framtiden. Om en idé för utveckling av ledarskap i kulturlivet.”).

Leadership within the field of Art and culture is an ignored area, and possibilities are few for development. Management-courses are many, as well as courses in laws and regulations, staff management, economy and likewise. But how do you develop the leadership role? This has to do with personal skills as well as a continuous interest in reflecting on experiences. The model for the idea put forward in the report is from UK; the successful ”Cultural Leadership Awards” run by Venu Dhupa, which at the time was put up by Nesta. The award was dedicated to exceptional leaders within Art, technology and science and showed to be an innovative way of developing leadership. As Venu Dhupa says ”an investment in leadership is necessary for the future of cultural life”.

Leading Art and cultural institutions and projects is difficult and put specific demands on leadership. Again you are expected to be an all-area-Artist. And there are, argued by people in the field and Art Management researchers, specific conditions in the cultural field you have to handle. The main goal is rarely profitability, but rather human, Artistic, social or aesthetic goals. It is therefore more difficult to show when goals are achieved. It’s easy to put economic figures on paper, but how do you measure social or aesthetic goals? For many working in the field, money is not the main goal. This means motivation, drive and belief in higher values are important factors for anyone working in the field and a factor when motivating staff. It is a production-driven field, research shows, and not consumer-driven as in so many other areas. Another factor is that Art production doesn’t follow the logic of competition and is often unprofitable. All these factors put demands on the leader, who also has to adjust to a changing society where flexibility, risk taking, resilience and resourcefulness are necessary personal skills. Interestingly the same skills were put forward in an article in the Hindu, in October last year, when discussing necessary skills when working in the Indian context. Read a short version here.

The report was written by Karin Dalborg, Manager of Nätverkstan’s training programme Kulturverkstan, and Lotta Lekvall, Director at Nätverkstan. Download the report (in Swedish, a translation is hopefully published soon)  kulturledarskap2009. You can have a look at the model for the Swedish Cultural Leadership Awards on the attached images, just double-click to make them larger.

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13 april, 2009

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Development tendencies and education in the 21st century

”Will all of us working in the cultural field adapt to new tendencies in society or will we create alternative views and solutions?” The question is put by Lena Stenmar, Coordinator at Kulturverkstan, and who just published the report on development tendencies and educational needs within culture in the 2010 era. The study is based on interviews and seminars with people within the cultural field in Sweden.

omslag-rapport-kulturverkstan1Several of the interviewed stress that society is becoming more and more instrumental, culture and Art are expected to solve other problems in society and the boarders of commercial and non-commercial is changing. Full time jobs at an institution are declining, the employments will be project based and on free lance basis. Cultural practitioners and Artists will be forced to find other sources of funding than, in the Swedish context, traditional public funding. Skills and knowledge expected of people within Art and culture are within a wide range; you are supposed to be flexible and a sort of all-area-artist, doing everything. Skills expected are communication skills, writing skills, social competence, leadership, economy and law, organisational and administrative, understanding of Artistic processes, political science and a professional way of working. This combined withthe necessity within Art: a high quality level of Artistic work.

Some overall tendencies are found, that will affect cultural practitioners and Artists, and educators. There will be more expectations of working across traditional boarders; internationalisation, regionalisation, globalization is becoming more important, you are expected to work on international basis; more work on every level in society will be project based; professionaliing the sector is expected, which puts more demand for continuous education and training possibilities; funding from many different sources; entrepreneurship; and, finally, leadership development.

The report is written by Lena Stenmar, Coordinator at Kulturverkstan, and can be downloaded (only in Swedish): kulturutbildning10-talet.

7 april, 2009

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Monumentalverkstan in Malmö

Sweden has since the 70s a series of smaller and larger artistic collective workshops (Konstnärernas kollektivverkstäder) around the country. These were mainly formed and run – and still are – by artists to let available the expensive machines and large working areas needed to do Artwork within for example sculpturing, graphic arts, bronze, ceramics, textile. Much of Sweden’s public art have been done in one of these workshop areas.

Since the seventies society has changed drastically and funders are putting more and more pressure on these workshops to professionalize, more effectively use of the often large localities they have and add other services. An interesting dilemma appears. These localities are formed to let the large monumental Artistic work take form and the administration is run on a volunteer basis, with small income from funders. In Malmö the collective of Artists have thought differently, though, and started a process of renewal and change, where Kristian Körner, Artist and President in the board of Monumentalverkstan describes the double role of the collective:

”As an Artist I work individually and the whole point is that I decide what, when and how an Art work is to be presented. This is an inward way of working and needs to be this. The collective, on the other hand, can be open and think differently. A collective is formulating the interest of a whole profession, not the individual.”

On the meeting in Malmö, KKV Textiltryck, KKV Grafik and Plan3 participated. It was a network-meeing between the collective workshops in Skåne and the funders Region Skåne and Malmö Stad. Nätverkstan and the overview of the Artistic collective workshops in Sweden, commissioned by Stiftelsen framtidens kultur (The Foundation for the Culture of the Future, and performed by Nätverkstan was presented.

3 april, 2009

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

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