Archive for september, 2010

Art living on Art • Mombasa, Kenya

Fourteen artists within music, visual art, dance, theatre, sculptor, and cultural organizations from East African countries gathered in Mombasa the past two days for the workshop Money–Meaning (or The Art of living on Art), arranged by the GoDown Arts Centre.

In what during the night was transformed to the hotel nightclub, we during the day used as the room for reflection on how to be able to live on your art and what changes that need to be performed to reach your goals and visions. Lively discussions were mixed with small groups and time for your own reflection. The question of how you balance between money and meaning (the artistic work or integrity) in your daily life led to intense discussions on where the fine borderline is where you feel you loose your artistic quality.

We started of with questions and expectations of the workshop. Things like: More knowledge of how to manage one-self, a sceptical attitude towards the money and meaning concept and a curiosity to know more. Also: Understanding of how to run an organization, how you can survive as an artist, and how to be more business-like within the artfield. Not everything was answered, but getting time to in a structured way reflect on your situation and how to be able to live on what you do, is useful. Two wonderful, energetic, and interesting working days.

Read more of the workshop under category The Art of living on Art on this page.

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30 september, 2010

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Google and the future

When we first talked about inviting Google to a seminar in Göteborg, people, not the least from the publishing houses, saw red. Why in the world would we invite someone who is ruthlessly digitizing literature without proper concern of the public domain?

Santiago de la Mora, Head of books and libraries at Google in Europe, had his message clear. It’s the user who decides the need for Google and its products. There are today 1,8 billion Internet users, he says, where Google want to reach more readers, more revenue and engagement in Internet. Reading habits have changed since the introduction of the web, from the printed newspaper reading from cover to cover to more individual articles on specific topics. It’s a browsing mentality and more scattered reading. The user has a choice, the representative from the absolute biggest search engine on Internet emphasizes. You can choose other search engines if you would like. For Google the foremost goal is the user experience and for example the thought that you should be able to read books anywhere at anytime. ”It’s an enabler, not something instead of”, says de la Mora.

The informal motto for the company is ”don’t be evil”, which implies that they could be evil but decide not to, moderator Mikael Löfgren pointed out with the question: ”What is it that you are not doing that could be evil?” Answering this question as for others of that caliber, Santiago de la Mora was vague. That was neither surprising, nor the most important with the afternoon.

The five-headed panel of experts from the fields of publishing, journalism, library, European cultural journals, and archives, reflected on the presentation by Google, making several interesting points and posed some crucial questions:

”The dichotomy is not between digitization or printed texts, it’s about how to finance quality content in the future?”

”The state and the public domain have not taken their responsibilities in dealing with digitization. This has left the floor free for other innovative solutions like Google”

”Make a national all-inclusive cultural policy for digital times. We have to stop talk about preventing or compensating.”

”What do an open democratic society want to promote concerning digitization?”

Perhaps it was not a surprise that publishers were not present in the audience. Also politicians were glowing with their non-presence, except for two parties (m) and (fp). But it was a mistake. It’s obvious that the politicians have to lift the discussion to include the democratic and public domain view into digitization discussions, not only copyright laws, something it seems to be little awareness of. And the publishers have to dare to look this new threat to their traditional business models in the eye and start thinking of new ways to continue publish books. This seminar provided that opportunity.

The seminar was arranged by Göteborg Book Fair and Nätverkstan, together with Stampen, Göteborg&Co, Västra Götaland and Stiftelsen Framtidens kultur. It’s part of two conferences on this theme, the other one can be found here. Mikael Löfgren has written a report to introduce the topic (in Swedish) found at samladeskrifter.se.

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23 september, 2010

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Cultural Observatories in Europe

The urge to measure culture and all its aspect is growing. Everything that can be put in figures should be, seems to be the new motto. Qualitative arguments for why to put money into culture seem to have less value, quantities instead more. An instrumentalization of art and culture has been blowing as a wind over policy offices. Culture should be good for something, and it has to be proven.

In Sweden a range of public authorities or agencies offer studies and observations, the most used is probably Statistics Sweden, who produce statistics of most things in society. The problem with culture is that it has traditionally  fallen into the same category as sports, which is a much larger area and therefore the more specific knowledge of culture disappears. Instead other authorities are taking this role, such as Swedish Arts Council, Swedish Arts Grant CommitteeSweCult, and of course universities and many others, that has the ambition to also put figures into a context. The difficulty is still definitions, validity and reliability, and a vagueness is there. Is these facts trustable? Have the right thing been measured? A classical problem in any research, but with huge consequences for a small area like the cultural field.

Since some years cultural observatories have grown around Europe, some independent, but most connected to the public authorities. Many of them struggle with challenges such as: Who is the actual audience for the produced statistics? Should there be a common framework for these observatories? How do they cooperate and how do we deal with differences in methods, measurement, definitions?

These questions were discussed in Bilbao recently, where University of Deusto together with Encatc initiated the project and think tank The role of Culture Observatories in the Future in Europe.

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11 september, 2010

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Kick-off at Nätverkstan

During two intense days at the guesthouse Slussen, placed right by the ocean side, Nätverkstan gathered all staff to discuss the coming year. In the sunny August-light, the focus was the future vision aiming for Nätverkstan the year 2020.

Two positions were explored, inspired by a method used by Cristina Ortega Nuere, University of Deusto in Bilbao. The first was to envision the catastrophe. Everything had gone wrong. Two and two we discussed things like: What happened? What were the factors leading to the catastrophe? What was missing? The second was to envision the success. Nätverkstan was the most talked about cultural organization in Europe, everything turned into to gold in our hands. What had gone so well? What were the factors leading to such a success, what had been in place? What were the success criteria?

To envision the organization in such terms, pretending it was 2020 and looking back on these two scenarios, opened an intense discussion on where the organization is now, the content, projects, economy, workload, joy and so forth. We ended with a list of conclusions of things we could see were important for the planning of activities in 2011.

We also took help of communication consultant Kent R Andersson and talked about different communication methods. Everyone ended outside on the porch in preparing a small presentation of a colleague. Intense, a lot of fun, and important!

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3 september, 2010

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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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