Archive for november, 2010

RUHR.2010

Ruhr area is described as a metropolis in Germany. For the first time an area has become the European Cultural Capital of 2010 (one of them), an area of 53 cities (se comments), where five cities are put forward as central: Dortmund, Essen, Bochum, Oberhausen and Düsseldorf together form the metropolis and the base for activities during Ruhr.2010.

But at the tourist office in Dortmund, they are not sure. Information of Ruhr 2010? No….we don’t know. The only thing going on in Dortmund that evening is the Philharmonic playing Haydn and Brahms at the Concert hall, we learn (a beautiful concert!).

dortmunderu2The next day we find the designated place for Ruhr 2010 in Dortmund, only a few blocks away from the tourist office; the U. The Dortmunder U is an old beer brewery now becoming a centre for art and creativity. It’s not finished yet, plans are it will gather cultural education, media center, museum, and exhibition halls in one building.

The Ruhr was the center for old coal and steel mining industry in Europe and as such been the zone for conflicts and wars. Here the EU was born, the first steps were taken around 1950s with the Schumandeclaration. It was crucial in Europe to make peace, not war, and therefore necessary to find ways of cooperation around coal and steel mining.

Today this industry is closed down and many of the old mines are now museums. Other buildings are left empty and the hopes are that these will be filled with other activities and businesses. Such as art and culture.

Is the artistic community dense enough to be able to talk about a creative industry? Will this create the new jobs? And does the ambitious programme of activities in Ruhr 2010 include the community so that changes and ambitions will continue after the Cultural Capital year? Views go apart on this when you ask around.

The changes in Ruhr are not new. It started around ten to fifteen years ago, which might set out for a more long-term view of changes which will hopefully lead to new sustainable jobs.

When Swedish researcher Lisbeth Lindeborg visited the Ruhr area in 1991, she in her report Kultur som lokaliseringsfaktor – erfarenheter från Tyskland (my translation: Culture as localization factor – experiences from Germany) pointed out the fact that art and culture played an important role in changes of cities and regions. Art and culture were the factors for localization of businesses and well-being in an area.

A statement creating a harsch debate in Sweden at the time, specifically among the artistic community. Art should not be seen as an instrument for something else. Art is important for its own sake, was the argument.

For another view than the official, you can read at the blog Ruhr Barone of journalists blogging on the Ruhr area. Here a post by Stefan Laurin: Die Kreativen und die Politik im Ruhrgebiet, where he says that Dortmunder U only has become an exhibition hall and museum.

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Some facts on German Creative Industries:

Work force in 2006 within Creative Industries was 938.000 people. In 2007, 970.000 people, and in 2008 over 1 million. In 2008 it was 3.3% of the total workforce in Germany.

Turnover in these industries was estimated at 132 billion euro and there were around 238.000 companies in this field.

Gross value added was for 1) Engineering industry 74 billioen euro, 29 Automotive industry 71 billion euro, and 3) Creative industry 61 billion euro which was 2,6% of economic output.

Source for information: German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, Final Report Culture and Creative Industries of 30.01.2009, through the information leeflet handed out by Dortmunder U: Boosting the creative industries.

The visit in Germany is part of a study being produced on knowledge production and research within creative industries, a work done for the think tank on these issues in Region Västra Götaland.

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27 november, 2010

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A quick glance: Creative industries in Germany

Monica Grütters, Chairman of the Ausschusses für Kultur und medien (Committee of Culture and Media) in German Bundestag (Parliament), meet us in her office in the government building in Berlin. A building under threat of terrorist attacks, we learn, and later that day they close it for all visitors.

“We have more employment in the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI) than in other areas in Germany, more than banking for example” Monica Grütters tells us. The CCI are today the second largest industry in Germany, second only after the car manufacturing industry.

The hope is that culture and creative businesses will be a new economic model. “We supported the Cultural Capital to Ruhr”, she says, and explains the transition in Ruhr area from coal and steal mining to creativity and innovation, two of the main themes for Ruhr.2010.

Within the Bundestag, Creative industries has it’s own organization, placed under the finance department. “They have the money and proper instruments and tools”, Monica Grütters explains. The Committee gets regular reports on creative industries and what has been done. Several efforts are done to encourage these new small businesses.

“The Creative industries is young, dynamic and fast growing”. But it is a side-effect, Monica Grütters declares. The main focus is intact, which means Fine Arts are highly supported.

Initiatives like training of banking managers in how creative businesses work has started in each of the sixteen Bundesländer (states) and the formation of transition centers for dancers in Berlin and Karlsruhe where they after an early pension around the age of 30-35 (common for dancers) can get further education, are combined with a special Socialkasse for artists. Once you become a member of the Kasse you are within the social security system in the country. A huge problem for many artists is that they fall out of the social security system.

There seem to be quite a consensus over political parties that these are necessary efforts. And there seem not to be much of opposition from the artistic community. Ulrika Skoog Holmgaard, Councelor of Cultural Affairs at the Embassy of Sweden in Berlin, explains to us that even in these times of financial crisis, cuts within art is limited in Germany. There is in Germany a strong support for art and culture, and as Monica Grütters put it, “We need it because we are a cultural nation”.

The visit in Germany is part of a study being produced on knowledge production and research within creative industries, a work done for the think tank on these issues in Region Västra Götaland.

25 november, 2010

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Wash one’s own dirty linen

The day after the Swedish Election to parliament on September 19, many Swedes woke up in chock.

For the first time, a racist party had managed to get seats in the parliament. The Sweden Democrats, a party with roots in neo-Nazism, had gotten 5.7% of votes (4% is needed for parliament) and were about the same size as the other small parties in parliament.

For Sweden this was new, although our neighbours Norway and Denmark have had racist parties in their parliaments for some years, something that follows a European trend in politics at the moment. In Denmark Dansk Folkeparti is as big as around 13%, the third largest party in the country.

The Sweden Democrats holds the balance of power. The Alliance, the cooperation between Moderaterna (Conservatives/Moderate Party), Folkpartiet (Liberal Party) and Centerpartiet (Center Party), is in minority, which means to get decisions through; they have to find allies in one of the other parties.

Discussions have gone warm on what this means in reality and how members of parliament should act to completely shut out the Sweden Democrats from any political power. In this, all parties have agreed. The Sweden Democrats should be kept away from political influence and met with what they are: A party building politics on people’s ethnic and cultural background.

This only works if the traditional parties and their members have a clear idea of where they stand in their political act. That they wash their own dirty linen, so to speak.

In Region Västra Götaland, at the first meeting in the Regional Parliament held on November 2, we saw what this means.

After about five weeks of negotiations, the political alliance leading the region was formed. Socialdemokraterna (Social Democrats), Vänsterpartiet (Left Party) and Miljöpartiet (Green Party) form a minority governance together with Sjukvårdspartiet, a one-question party focused on medical care, as a balancing power. Still, together they hold only 74 seats, for majority 75 seats are needed of a total of 149. The Sweden Democrats holds 7 seats.

On the discussion on Kulturplanerna 2011–2012 (Cultural Plans), Patrik Ehn, a Sweden Democrat, argued to erase a formulation describing a trend of Europe becoming more and more racist and the fact that Sweden have a racist party in Government. But instead of suggesting to erase this specific sentence, the whole paragraph from the end of page twenty-nine, starting with the headline (my translation) “Region Västra Götaland wants to develop intercultural pedagogic”, to the end of page thirty, should, he argued, be erased from the document.

The paragraph Patrik Ehn urged being taken away is describing the importance of intercultural dialogue and how the region should work with issues like ethnicity, human rights and crossover cooperation with the aim of building understanding and knowledge instead of prejudices.

In the voting, 139 members voted to keep the paragraph, ten voted to erase it from the document.

Sweden Democrats acted as expected. They voted against and also asked for a two minutes break to leave a written reservation. The unexpected act was performed by some of the others. Of the ten members voting to erase, three were members of Moderaterna (Conservatives). Three members of the largest of the three ruling parties in Sweden voted with the Sweden Democrats.

It does give a scary indication of what we have in front of us.

Download the Kulturplanerna 2011–2012 here: underlag-till-regional-kulturplan-101022.pdf. See the clip from the first meeting in the Regional Parliament on 2 November 2010 from the discussion on Kulturplanerna here.

16 november, 2010

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Education in cultural industries for business advisors

Yesterday was the start of the education in cultural industries aimed for business advisors. Ten participants from different organizations giving business advise to small-scale entrepreneurs drove through the snow-storm hitting West Sweden to meet at Innovatum in Trollhättan to discuss cultural entrepreneurship.

Today the turn came to business advisors in Skaraborg, a county council of fifteen municipalities, where twelve advisors from different parts came to Skövde for the training in cultural and creative industries. Questions like: What does these industries consist of? Cultural entrepreneurship, how does it work? And discussions of business models in culture, cultural policy and enterprise policy, cultural and economic capital and things like: Are there differences running a cultural enterprise compared to enterprises within other areas?

Several artists presented their work, challenges and how they did to live on their art. Graphic Designer Mattias Nilsson who runs Kning Disk was there via Youtube.  Annika Törnqvist told her story as a musician and put economic figures on the different projects she is running, both as a musician, but also as a project manager.

Ceramist Pia Törnell told her story as a freelancer and the company StudioK. In the lattter, she and her husband produce their own products from idea to developing the moulds to get the perfect result, to  the finished unique products. At the same time as they lay the roof or build the walls to the studio and production hall where, in the future, every part of the production can be done.

Multiskilled is an understatement in describing the competence and skills these artists possess!

Read more on related topic here.

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10 november, 2010

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Authors

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

Cultural and Social Entrepreneurship

On this blog we would like to explore entrepreneurship from a cultural and social point of view. Or rather put forward entrepreneurial initiatives within these two fields.

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