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The fact that the Cultural scene is complex and consists of multidimensional relations, networks, and processes is nothing new. Most people, from Artists to politicians, agree that getting an overview of this area is more or less impossible. On a theoretical and general level, that is. When it comes to writing policies, discussing development of the field, and the role of creative industries, all seem forgotten. The awareness of the complexity goes down the drain. When it comes to policy the consensus around the Cultural field is overwhelming.
What are the consequences? Misguided and ill-substantiated proposals are formed; that, if really bad can endanger the Cultural life rather than catalyze it’s potential. This was evident not least in the work done by The Committee of Inquiry of Cultural Policy in Sweden, and the report presented by them last February.
David Karlsson, Chair of Nätverkstan, puts the light on this in his new book A Cultural Policy: money, art and politics to be published on February 12. David Karlsson was part of the Secretariat connected to the Committee for one year, after which he left because of bad management. The book is in many ways his respond to what should have been put forward in the report on Cultural policy presented by the Committee. But it’s not only that. It’s the first attempt in later years in Sweden of taking a grip of the whole area of Art and Culture.
The fifteen chapters cover a whole range of areas and processes such as Culture, Economy, Industry, Figures, Democracy, Production, Quality…All areas with it’s own complexity, and put together, even more diverse. Together with very concrete examples of consequences for Cultural policy, he reaches his own thesis (a conclusion of a reasoning in the first part of the book, my translation): ”Firstly, every political action directed towards the Cultural field, to have any prospect of leading to results, have to build on an understanding of the complexity of the field. Cultural policy needs to become more complicated to be able to operate less complicated. The second conclusion is that a free and independent Art is an absolute condition for all activity within the cultural economy”. This is one reason why it’s necessary to separate Art from Culture and discuss different policy within the different areas.
One of the other discussions is that of Cultural Production. All Cultural products that can be digitalized will be digitized. These products will be for free (which follows the thought of Chris Anderson in his book Free). Cultural life is torn apart in two areas; one where digital Cultural products goes towards being for free, the other being that productions such as concerts, theatre and dance performances will become more expensive.
Several posts have been written at this site before on the topic of Cultural policy. Look under Swedish Cultural Policy, ”Time for Culture”, Culture should mainstream all policy, Art and creative industries, The Creative Industries: Ten years after, and many more.
A stream of people hurries in from the cold through the revolving door. The big staircase in the centre of the Museum of World Cultures is filled to the rim. Everyone sit squeezed together, some stand up in the end of the stairs, others hang around the reeling at the second floor. We are here to listen to the Göteborg-based choir Amanda singing Haitian songs in support of the catastrophe at Haiti.
Culture has the power of gathering people in joy or grief, in hope or disaster. Last week Swedish dailies showed photos of people in Port-au-Prince at Haiti gathering in the streets to sing in an act to find the strength to endure. The event in Göteborg gathered hundreds of people wanting to show their sympathy, solidarity and grief. I wonder at how many places around the world things like this take place right now? Where culture becomes the bridge and channel to get the strength to go on, feel hope, or just mourn.
Downstairs is the last day of the exhibition ”Vodou”, the culture and religion based in Haiti, which was brought by African slaves transported to work for the colonial powers. Haiti was the first of former colonized states gaining independence through slave rebellion in 1804. And then run by former slaves. The exhibition shows Vodou to be one of the strong sub cultural forces from which slaves got their collective power to fight their oppressors. Song and music from drums is a strong element in Vodou. In US, the power African Americans got from gospel and spirituals, music in connection with strong religious ideas, played an important role in the change from slavery to civil rights in the late 1800s. At Haiti the Dictators Papa Doc and Baby Doc to run political terror between 1957 and 1986 used the same Vodou.
Song, dance, music. Cultural expressions and collective power. The people leaving the museum after the concert today felt a sense of hope. It was an act of solidarity. In Europe, our Cultural Departments at all levels are working towards a more quantity-based measurement of the results and effects of culture. Results of people’s cultural experiences are to be shown in economic figures. Effects should be formulated in measurable, long-term incentives; they must be quantified. So, how do you measure the effect of this?
Today tickets are released to the next Göteborg International Film Festival, a festival visited by around 200.000 people every year who during ten days go to films, listen to seminars, hang in the festival tent or take part of many of the other events connected to the festival. For a small city as Göteborg it’s quite a thing to host, as said on the festival website, the fifth largest public film festival in Europe. It’s a time when you can see film otherwise not reachable for the public and from all corners of the world.
This year there is a section ”Beyond Bollywood”, a very concrete result of the three-year cooperation between Region Västra Götaland and the southern state of Karnataka in India. Bollywood is the largest film industry in the world, economically it’s way past Hollywood. According to about.com, fourteen million Indians go to see these ”Masala” films, the films produced according to the format with dance, song, love, a hero and a happy ending. But what are produced beyond Bollywood? What questions are the ones of today’s modern India?
The films showed at this year’s festival aim to show a wider perspective, the other films produced. Reading at Wikipedia, India has two official languages, unofficially up to 300 languages are mentioned. In a republic with over one billion inhabitants, of many religions and beliefs, twenty-eight different states, with an incredible economic growth rate and urbanization that is said to be one person per every other second moving in to the cities, the varieties of stories to be told are enormous. In discussion with filmmakers in Bangalore, the lack of quality film education is put forward as one obstacle as why it’s so difficult for the alternative film industry to grow in India. The festival will be visited by the well-known Karnataka film director Girish Kasaravalli and film maker Prakash Belawadi, where questions like this will be discussed.
For more on the cooperation and discussions on film, film education between Region Västra Götaland and Karnataka, look at the section ”India” on this site.
Göteborg University is planning a one-year master on Art an Entrepreneurship. The idea is that students start in Göteborg and do part of the education in Bangalore, India. Hopefully the part in Bangalore would be Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology.
A base for the cooperation would be student exchange, where Indian students go to Sweden and the other way around. For Swedish students there are great opportunities in learning a completely different environment, spend a longer time in a different context to get input about Art and entrepreneurship by mixing the theoretical with social practice.
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