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Yesterday the newly formed Swedish Council for Cultural and Creative Industries gathered and the nine members headed by the Chair, Sven-Olof Bodenfors, met for the first meeting.
In 2009 the Swedish government presented an Action Plan for Cultural and Creative Industries (Handlingsplan för kulturella och kreativa näringar), where the objective is to create long-term sustainable conditions for entrepreneurship and enterprise within these industries.
The action plan was the first of its kind with a cooperation between Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communication, two ministries with completely different roles, objectives and missions, but with the mutual interest on one hand (Ministry of Enterprise) to create good conditions for small-scale enterprises to grow in all areas of business, and on the other (Ministry of Culture) find ways of sustainability for artists running their own business, organization, or working as freelances. The possible collision in these two interests are obvious and worries are evident in cultural life that the state hereby take away all responsibility from the artistic core, research, the non-commercial side of culture which is so important for any society.
A worry that increased when the Minister of Culture, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, decided to abolish the guarantees of income to artists. It has since it was established in 1966 been a guarantee awarded to artists with high artistic quality and who has been of great importance to the Swedish artistic scene. A small (and for the state cheap) way of showing appreciation to artists that usually have had lousy economic conditions during their productive time. Today 157 artists have the guarantee and on May 26 2010, the government voted for abolishing this.
The newly formed council is formed by nine members with different backgrounds; from fashion creator, to media, from advertising, to performing and sculpting art and to small-scale cultural organizations. The first meeting was promising for future intense discussions of the conditions of running small-scale businesses, being an entrepreneur, the potential in the field of cultural and creative industries, as well as the paradoxes that always are present in a complex field as art and culture.
In the end, the government bid should lead to incentives adjusted to the specific conditions of running something within the artistic and cultural field. And, in the best of worlds, of course, these must reach and be appreciated by artists in their studios, rehearsing room, and by their desks. For those within art and culture that want to find ways to explore and develop the enterprise side, the system should be inclusive rather than hostile to cultural entrepreneurs.
Download (in Swedish) Handlingsplan för kulturella och kreativa näringar: b0159c17.pdf.
It looks like the politics on creative industries started by the New Labour in 1997 has come to an end. The incentives started in the late 90s were new and has contributed to create a market for small-scale cultural businesses, models that have been exported in Europe, all the way to Shanghai in Far East. UK has long been seen as the cradle of creative industries.
When Chris Smith was appointed by Tony Blair in 1997 to be Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sports, he could continue a process started in the 80s centred around Greater London Council (GLC). GLC described the cultural scene in London as the new ”industry” being important for creativity, social inclusion and economy. It was an attempt to describe cultural initiatives as the new industry and redefine a term first used by the two critical theorists Horkheimer and Adorno. The two were upon their arrival to the US in the 1940s chocked by how popular culture was produced in almost a factory way producing standardized culture goods. It was like an industry, they said in disgust.
The Greater London Council changed the understanding of cultural industries in the 90s, to instead describe the small-scale, cooking, multi-skilled cultural life with a potential and importance for the economy in London. Chris Smith could pick up and continue on this road, creative industries have grown and has become an important part of society and, many reports have confirmed, contribute in a substantial way to economy.
This is an epoch now being buried. Tomorrow (Wednesday, Oct 20) is Axe Wednesday, as it has been called in UK, where the government will announce massive cuts in all sectors of society. TV-news is showing expected figures of 500.000 public jobs being lost. Culture is expecting around 40% cuts in funding.
Two large factors have completely reshaped the scene: The financial crisis and the Conservative government.
The present government is reinterpreting creative industries to mainly concern media, dismantling what most understand as the large contribution of cultural industries; social inclusion, regional development, and labour market.
Several effects are expected in the cultural field, such as a total dismantling of cultural policy where for example the Film Commission has seen its last days, a complete dismantling of the regional level, a probable redefining and change of creative industries, cuts on most cultural development agencies, enormous cuts in the universities which means more focus on employability and less money on research and long-term learning.
Will this mean that we see the end of creative industries?
Interviews done in London, 18-19 October 2010, a project commissioned by Region Västra Götaland (Sweden) to do a small knowledge and research survey. Interviewed were Paul Owens at Burns Owens Partnership, Tom Fleming at Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy, Sian Prime, Director of MA Creative and Cultural Entrepreneursip at Goldsmiths University, and Gerald Lidstone, Director of Institute of Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths University.
I was invited by The Goethe Institute. They have arranged a trip for journalists, publishers and other persons connected to the publishing world. Our group was a very international with guests from Pakistan, Palestine, Ukraine, Malta, Qatar, Tajikistan, Myanmar and Norway. The persons in the group were very interesting and we learned a lot from each other. With a little bit of luck there will be some cooperations in the future. Nätverkstanwise my main task for this trip was to look at the current debate about the digitization of the bookworld. Some conclusions:
Digitization is here.
It was the main topic of many, many discussions. At the fair they had a special subfair about digitization. It was called Hot Spots and the main theme had the title “Where Content meets Technology”. Before the fair actually started there was a conference in cooperation with O’Reilly media and their annual conference Tools Of Change. The programme was very impressive and many of the discussions where spot on for the Swedish debate.
Two years ahead of Sweden.
The international (mainly the US) development in the book market is two years ahead of Sweden. Here can you have a look at the changing consumer patterns, new devices and other future trends. This does not mean that what’s happening in the US will happen here, but it will give you some indications. The figure about actually selling e-books was probably the most interesting. The expectation for the US Christmas market is that e- books will have a market share of 12% of all sold books. And it’s increasing. The reason is simple: Reading devices.
Ipad is still #1.
At one of the Hot- spots there where an exhibition of reading devices. For a tech- geek it was like Christmas. Many Korean and Chinese companies showed their latest products. Sadly enough they where not so impressive. The Ipad is still #1 in each and every way.
Magazines/ journals for the iPad
This morning my wife woke me up with the question: Do you want the morning paper or the iPad? Of course I wanted them both. But this will not be the question in the years to come. At this year Frankfurt Book fair many of Germanys leading morning papers had iPads at their stand. The result wasn’t too impressive. My main conclusion is that they have not used this new format enough. It’s still the traditional morning paper, but on a led screen. But to be fair, the iPad was released April this year. The future is here, but the very interesting is still yet to come.
But what about the books?
Jonathan Franzen. Freedom was the major book on this fair. After reading the first 200 pages I must say: Believe the hype. It’s like the film American Beauty, but on acid. It has everything that made The Corrections one of my favourite novels. But Franzen is few years older and a more mature writer.
Trends/ hype. The next big thing after Stephanie Myers Twilight epos is “Vampire erotic with sex”. When Myers is a little bit puritanical, the next writers in this genre are not.
But my best buy at this book fair was made outside the gates. Our guide Stefan took us to a small antique bookshop in the centre of Frankfurt. There I bought a signed copy of Theodor W. Adornos Zur Metakritik der Erkenntnistheorie. Studien über Husserl und die phänomenologischen Antinomien. Thank you Stefan for showing me the long tail!
Text & photo: Olav Fumarola Unsgaard
Sunny cobblestoned streets and a vivid cultural life was the first impression of Lviv, Ukraine, after spending a couple of hours there. 3 days later that impression had even deepened and expanded along with our mission – to observe and to create a workshop for future.
An hour after arrival at Lviv Airport – a beautiful building more alike a train station than the airports we earlier have experienced – we meet Ihor Savchak from The Centre for Cultural Management. He is at the moment arranging a conference on cultural entrepreneurship and with his perspective and knowledge we where put in touch with culture personalities in the city. This turned in to be a multi faceted experience of project managers, artists, programmers, curators, directors and a poetry translator.
Since our main goal to visit Lviv was to develop and plan a future workshop, we focused on carefully listening and tuning in organisations and culture entrepreneurs and they soon grew into sources of inspiration. Day by day our work was processed and we found ourselves mind mapping and discussing lively how to shape a workshop influenced by the environment that surrounded us and at the same time develop possible new grounds to explore.
Palace of Arts has every reason to call itself a palace with its impressive 9000 square meters stuffed with exhibitions, screenings, conferences and events. Transformator is a project on electronic music, sound art and media installations and at the same time a mix of workshops, exhibitions, lectures and discussions. This year it will take place in November 26-28. The Ukrainian-Polish Radioschool, is about to launch a live on-line radio program and we also had the great opportunity to spend time with Lev Hrytsyuk, a Ukrainian translator with emphasis on Swedish poetry.
The last night was spent at a barbeque-party outside the city with over 30 culture entrepreneurs from all over the country, sharing culture experiences and Ukrainian hotdogs by the open fire. We also learned the meaning of the expression “Swedish family” in Ukraine. “- It ´s like ABBA. You live however you like and with who ever you like. Men and women mixed and more than two. When you spend a lot of time with friends or live together with friends we call it a Swedish family.” A perfect wrap up for a perfect stay in Lviv. We look forward to coming collaborations.
Text & Photo: Helena Persson and Carl Forsberg, Project Managers at Nätverkstan
The white plastic chairs are put in nice rows in the theatre hall, the stage is ready, and the lighting checked. All is ready for tonight’s performance of Independent Woman, written by Ibrahim Chitayi at the Little Theatre Club in centre of Mombasa, Kenya.
We are shown around the one-leveled building, built sometime around middle of 1800s in what were at that time the outer parts of Mombasa. Today the theatre lies in the middle of residential buildings of apartments and small houses. We ask if that means that the local inhabitants also come to the theatre shows, but it seems like the audience is not found around the corner, but rather appeal to people from other parts of town.
The building is a cultural heritage bungalow. The outside of the building cannot be changed or rebuilt due to this. Despite the cultural heritage mark, the authorities have not been interested in restoring it and it’s very run down, we are told. A lot of renovation has been started inside by the organization running the theatre, a slow process relying on short-term project money. The visions are high and the leading team are hoping for a well-equipped hall for dancers and theatre auditorium, dressing rooms, costume storage, and hopefully in the future guest rooms for visitors.
A staircase takes us up to the lighting room, close to the ceiling. We step into a room that takes us back in time. A small opening where you can peek into the auditorium to see that the lighting works is the only opening in the otherwise dark room. The theatre’s right hand and person responsible for lights shows us how it works, how he handles the control sticks of the fifty-year-old lighting system manually each night for each performance.
We go down the stairs after the demonstration to the next pride of the theatre: The costumes. Money has been put into purchasing a wide range of costumes, characteristic for the time they represent. It is a pride for any theatre to be able to have such storage of costumes. Real treasures are found in the pile of coats, dresses, shirts, skirts, shoes, and three time-characteristic military coats are pulled out. A cloud of dust fills the air as they are dashed on the table on the outside.
We have the days before the visit been part of the conference The Economy of Creativity, gathering around a hundred well-known artists, civil servants, politicians, business people, and representatives of cultural organisations, discussing the potential of the cultural and creative industries in East Africa. The conference was the second arranged by GoDown Arts Centre in cooperation with Mimeta and Swedish Institute.
The interest, willingness to engage, and interesting discussions are all in place among participants and speakers. Many memorable inputs are there, not the least on the talk shows where established artists are asked about obstacles and ways forward in their careers. But when it comes to the question of money, how the field of culture is to be funded, it’s quiet. And the main suggestion put forward by authorities is: Engage the corporate world.
There is no lack of creativity at the Little Theatre Club. Nor is there a lack of drive and resolution. There is one major shortage and that is resources, economic resources. To only rely on the corporate world as the solution of how to sustain an interesting artistic and cultural life and to promote cultural industries is naive.
Read more from the conference Economy of Creativity 2009 here.
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