Archive for juni, 2009

PV-FV=NPV • Project work in Kenya

An article in Kenyan paper the Nation (June 27, 2009), written by journalist Gitau Gikonyo puts forward a new tendency he sees. As the middle class is growing in Kenya, the engagement for social issues is declining. The middle class seem to be happy with their lives, driving the car back-and-forth to their jobs, living in houses, children going to good schools, and as the number within this class grows, the interest for politics and to work for a better society for all diminishes. The only ones left to lift these issues are either the elite or the very poor, the article states. In India the middle class accounts for around 200 million and is the economically most dynamic group on this planet. But overall they don’t care about politics or social reforms, Gikonyo states. They are well as it is.

People we meet in Nairobi are very committed. They want to see change, take the opportunity. But for the Arts in Kenya one major question is: Is the Art sector ready for change? In Kenya Art and culture is not described in economic terms, as it is in Europe. And to reach changes, basic needs like img_9212food, electricity, sanity and infrastructure have to be in place. Working with culture without a conscious mindset also on social and societal issues just does not work. ”Freedom of Speach is not recognized in this country since Art is not recognized” one person tells us.

Culture have a mindset towards society. How does this fit with private investors’ interest? The complexity rises. Investors have another rationale and value system than the Arts. The market value chain also looks different. The traditional industry is a linear process from origination to consumption, in creative industries it’s a disruptive process. It doesn’t follow linear expectations, rather you need to in every step from origination to distribution and consumption think in several different options (for more, have a look at Donna Ghelfi’s report below). Time value of money, opportunity cost, as well as net present value counted in the figure: PV-FV=NPV is all investors talk, which has to be layered with cultural production and entrepreneurship if you want these to different fields to meet. Without loosing the value of the Art, the Artistic integrity and the social aspect so closely linked to Artistic work. How should this be done?

The project is a project funded by the Swedish Institute and Strömme Foundation and run by Pratik Vithlani at Mangowalla Ventures in cooperation with Godown and Nätverkstan. Below you can find some of the reports used in the environmental scan for the project.

Read the much debated report on the post-election violence in 2007 written by the Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence, the Waki Report: wakirep.

For information about culture in Africa, have a look at Obervatory of Cultural Policy in Africa. Another interesting initiative is the Arterial network, which started with a conference in Senegal in 2007. The report can be downloaded here: arterialconferencereport.

Read also the reports by Dominic Power, at the University of Uppsala, Sweden, on creative industries, intellectual property and so forth, download here one: dominic-power_-revisied-cluster-theory-for-cultural-industries. Download Donna Ghelfi’s, Programme Officer at Creative Industries Division, interview with John Howkins, a leading thinker on creativity and intellectual property, here: cr_interview_howkins. For an economic perspective on Eastern Africa, look at the report prepared for the investment company Swedfund in 2009 by Peter Stein: reporteastafrica-publ

Check out this fantastic presentation by Hans Rosling, Professor of International Health at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm at ted.com (or below) where he gives perspective of global development.

30 juni, 2009

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The funding gap • Project work in Kenya

As we in the project team pursue the question of interaction between business and cultural field during our sessions, several things emerge. And as we get in to the thought of investors investing in cultural businesses to make profitable returns, a few more things get clear.

Many of the people we meet talk about the potential of creative industries in Kenya, people from both business and cultural side. There is an opening, a collective thought is, a potential, which should be addressed. But how? How would you do to catalyze this potential and at the cost of what? What are the trade-offs?

Samuel Muvelah, at Zimele Asset Management Company Limited, has long experience of project work in different parts of Kenya, venture capital and is now a money manager for those who put in around 50 dollars and want their savings to grow. ”The reason the creative field is not seen, is that it’s lacking sufficient institutional organization to integrate with formal capital structures”, is his major point. ”The field is disorganized, so how do you find talent? How do you begin to cooperate with creative industries?” ”To catalyze the potential you need an entry point!”

Muthoni Udonga, on the other hand is musician and a real entrepreneur. She runs festivals with a variety of the top East African Artists, run workshops, and she does this with the perspective of both doing excellent music events, and do activities that develop the field. All this at the same time as she runs her own music career. ”Film, tv, music are really taking off here in Nairobi. On small budgets and very entrepreneurial”, she says. Together with producer Robert Wawawei, they describe a growing and bubbling music life with many upcoming new Artists. It’s a growing field, but one also struggling with skills gaps. ”Artists have to think like entrepreneurs, but that doesn’t happen here”, is Muthoni’s point. Together with few funding bodies, lack of investment money and an unpredictable audience, it’s hard to come forward. Hard – but not impossible.

So how could this funding gap between investors wanting to invest in creative industries but don’t know how, and a creative field wanting to be able to live on their content be resolved? How can bridges be built? In September the first meeting will be held in Nairobi putting these partners together to find concrete suggestions to come forward.

But in such a complex project there are many things to consider, and the team of Godown Art Center, Mangowalla Ventures and Nätverkstan, have been digging deep in to these discussions. A few things has emerged, perhaps not so new, but still very evident.

1. Investors expect an economic profit in their investments. Considering the creative field, which consists of a wide variety of activities from the Arts to design and media, only a few will be in consideration. Only a very small portion of cultural businesses and organizations has the chance to make these sorts of profits. They exist, of course, and there is a point to build bridges so they can meet, but for the cultural field as a whole, this will not be a solution.

2. Majority in the creative field are single Artists, small-scale cultural entrepreneurs and organizations that run not-for-profit entities. These might not be in the viewpoint of the investors, but are important as job creators. Here future jobs will be created.

3. Content production and symbolic value are becoming more and more important in the business world. The business field needs the creative field to be able to sustain the value of their products in a world in fast transition.

4. The Artists and investors have one common denominator: they both live on taking risks. The Artist takes risk to create meaning, the investor to create returns.

5. What are the trade-offs? For the investor one such is perhaps the relation between the higher expected returns, the less quality of the Artistic work, if you in the ”quality”-word also put in the aspect of uniqueness. This relation might not be binding, a film production selling very well and generating a large profit might also be of high quality. But for most cultural entrepreneurs striving in the field, there will not be large amounts of money to be made, unless you put less amount of time into increasing quality or your Artistic talent or do something else.

So for the Artist on the other hand, the relation between Artistic value and survival are true. Will you be able to live on your Art? If you want to earn money, is there a trade-off on your Artistic value?

The project is a project funded by the Swedish Institute and Strömme Foundation and run by Pratik Vithlani at Mangowalla Ventures in cooperation with Godown and Nätverkstan.

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27 juni, 2009

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Project work in Kenya

The post-election riots in Kenya in 2007 with many people killed and injured is still an open wound in society. Even though troubles between ethnic groups have been seen before, the strength and cruelty of the reactions in 2007 shook people from the ground. How could it happen?

At the opening of Kenyan Artist Peterson Kamwathi’s exhibition at Goethe-Institute in Nairobi on June 23, both of the inaugural speakers talk about the riots and the fact that no-one, still after two years, has been put to justice. Kamwathi’s exhibition ”Sitting Allowance” is a direct reaction of the environment before and after the election in 2007. In a text the Artist himself describes his work:

” The composition of these drawings is inspired by formal photos. The formal posture is meant to depict the rigidity and conformity that at many times is prevalent within institutions. Institutions are champions of formality and while there is nothing wrong with that, at times formality can be at the expense of humanity”.

Many we meet talk about the riots and the importance of building a positive development. Next election is in 2012 and the fear is that the same will happen. At Godown Art Center Art and culture are important factors for development, both societal and economical. The Art center is still a work-in-progress, Joy Mboya and Judy Ogana tell us as we walk around the compounds. They managed to get a hold of localities in an industrial area in Nairobi and have made it into an Art center with studios for Artists, renting out places for music studios, dance company, puppet maker. They also have an exhibition hall and a performance stage. They wanted to – among many other things – give Artists a sense of belonging, a place where they could go to perform, paint, and exhibit.

We are here for a week to prepare for a project and event that aim to bring investors, donors and businesses together with cultural entrepreneurs and organisations from Kenya and Sweden. The funding gap between cultural field and funding bodies is universal. But there is also another side. As the creative field is growing and becoming more important for economy there is a growing interest from investors to find partners in creative field. But they have a hard time finding where and with whom to invest. So what will happen if we bring these two together around the same table?

The project is a project funded by the Swedish Institute and Strömme Foundation and run by Pratik Vithlani at Mangowalla Ventures in cooperation with Godown and Nätverkstan.

Reports and links on Kenya will be posted on this site. For now, have a look at African Colours, an Internet portal for African contemporary Artists.

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24 juni, 2009

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The Art of living on Art

The summer academy ”The Art of living on Art” started this week and we just got back from three interesting days of work in Steneby, Dalsland. The academy is started by Göteborg University, Academy of Music and Drama, in cooperation with Nätverkstan, and turns to those who are, or aim to be, professional Artists. It’s about Art and entrepreneurship with a bearing thought that Artists know more about entrepreneurship than they (and others) believe they do. One of the aims is to make Artists aware of the competences and resources they have and catalyze these by reflection, discussions, good examples and guidance. It’s about taking power of your own lives. If you want to make a living on your Art – what do you need to do? What actions do you have to take? What hinders are there on the way?

There are no easy solutions or quick ways. On one hand report after report show that creative industries are a growing field, this is where you will find future jobs and new entrepreneurial ideas. At the same time other studies show that the income level among Artists is very low. So how do you do if you want to live of the income from your Art? The idea of the summer academy is to create a room for reflection and to start look at the resources you have; ideas, competences, skills; and to look at your network and relations. And ask yourself ”What do I lack or what is stopping me from doing what I want to do?”

The models used are workshops for self-reflection. The Artists have the competence; the teachers are  putting up the framework and leading the process of reflection. Many of the workshop-themes and models have been done in cooperation with Sian Prime, who was one of those running the incubator Creative Pioneer Programme at Nesta in London a few years ago, an incubator specifically within the Artistic field.

Three intense, hard working and fun days. Now the course continues with group and individual coaching. Next gathering with the whole class is July 10.

The Summeracademy is running over the summer and in August each student will have a three-year action plan on how to live on their Art. Read the Swedish website Att leva på sin konst (The Art of living on Art). On this website you can find many reports of creative industries and the incomelevel of Artists, look under the category ”Reports, articles and books”.

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17 juni, 2009

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After the Crunch

Read more about creative industries, creativity and thoughts of the current state of the economy and how the field we work in should respond in order to create a better future. Several different contributors has given their thoughs and ideas in ”After the Crunch”, a project started by John Holden, John Kieffer, John Newbigin and Shelagh Wright, their common work is also expressed in creative-economy.org.uk.

Download ”After the Crunch” here: after_the_crunch.

14 juni, 2009

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Creative industries – a new direction?

Professor Justin O’Connor at Queensland University of Technology, Creative Industries Faculty, in Australia has written two interesting papers on creative industries. Developing a Creative Cluster in a Post-industrial City: CIDS and Manchester and Creative Industries: A new direction?. Both can be downloaded here. Read also a note on the website of Arc Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation.

Downloads: cciextended and cids-revised.

9 juni, 2009

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Community Art Lab

On a café in San Francisco close to Union Square, in a rest between meetings with cultural organisations and Artists, the Artist Jörgen Svensson together with a few of us from Nätverkstan started a discussion on how Artistic competence could be an asset for city development. It was June 2008 and the European Commission were assigning the coming year as the year of creativity and innovation. The question intriguing us was: What boosts creativity? And how can an Artist’s competence be used in real life challenges, not only as an Artistic project, but as an asset for city developers? The project Community Art Lab took form.

The idea is simple: Put together people with different competencies to create a creative process which will enable new perspectives and ideas to form. This will become a resource for city development and innovative ideas. In this project we want to have local authorities, Artists, Art University and other expertise working together. The process is led by an Artist, and starts by the city authorities presenting a real challenge they are dealing with. All participants in the process are equally important for creativity to take form; the working method is to work in a genuine and long-term cooperation in a group of the different competencies, and through the process created catalyze ideas and find alternative solutions to challenges.

The project start with a five day Lab in the city with the partners involved. The starting point is the presentation by city authorities and where the invited group are seen as an asset to find alternative solutions and action plans. An intense five working days in a Lab-form starts. The process continues over time, between three to six months. A process leader leads the Lab and is a guide and mentor in the continuing work. The Lab-form is flexible and new competence and expertise can be added as the work proceeds.  Read more of the project in the outline: community-art-laboratory_090603.

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To read more of the study trip to San Francisco, look under Category with the same name. A quick look can be done on ”Thought on the road” and ”Public art and entrepreneurship” . The democracy project the South Bank Process in Göteborg, can be found on ”Transformation: from Warehouse to Cultural Center” and ”Democracy projects”. Read also about the Encatc Working Group ”Creative Entrepreneurship and Education”. Also read about the Artistic group Berlin, working with process as a method, and also the project Art and Politics in Västra Götaland.

4 juni, 2009

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Democracy projects

In the last post where we talked about the transformation of the warehouse in Göteborg to a cultural center, we also described the democracy project South Bank Process (Södra Älvstrandsprocessen). The process was thought to involve inhabitants in the city together with experts of different areas to come with new ideas of how the south bank of Göteborg should change. To this a  website was formed, to make information available and to facilitate participation from people in Göteborg. And for openes and transparency. The process died after the presentation of the groups and was never taken seriously in the political process.

A few days ago a note in the daily, Göteborgs-Posten, suggested that also the website had been closed down. It was not longer available for inhabitants, researchers and other interested people. A contact with the company that took over the site after the process was finished (the company formed to continue the work with changes on the south bank side), suggested that they had closed it down. So much for democracy and transparency.

Now the site, alvstaden, is opened again through the means of the internet journal Alba and Nätverkstan. In Swedish, but still. Read the former post about this and the new cultural center here.

1 juni, 2009

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Authors

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

Cultural and Social Entrepreneurship

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