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Facebook is said to be valued to around USD 50 billion, Twitter to around USD 10 billion, and The Huffington Post was recently sold to AOL for the sum of USD 350 million. What’s new about this? The value created was mostly by people working for free.
Read the article At Media Companies, a Nation of Serfs in New York Times by David Carr on, you could say, the world’s unintentional entrepreneurs.
Creative Industries Development Services (CIDS) in Manchester started in the end of the 1990s as a way to support the bubbling small-scale music life to become more sustainable businesses, build networks and be an intermediary between the city and its cultural scene.
The initiative was taken by Manchester City after a research-report 1997-1999 suggested to start an agency to be the intermediary between Manchester City’s infrastructure for support for businesses and the small-scale cultural life.
CIDS had four assignments when it started: 1) offer business support based on the acknowledgment that the cultural field needs specific competence and expertise, you need to know something of the field to be able to give the right support, 2) provide information and expertise of the cultural sector to the official structures, 3) build collaborations and partnerships with existing infrastructure to provide better and more coherent efforts to the creative field, and 4) to have a representative role and give voice for specific needs in the field into policy- and decision-making structures in the city.
In Professor Justin O’Connor’s report Developing a Creative Cluster in a Postindustrial City: CIDS and Manchester, he points at a few reasons why CIDS, in 2008 finally closed down its activities.
Two processes showed to be difficult. On one hand the notion of ”Creative Industries” which through the slight different connotation towards economic growth in the understanding of ”Creative Industries” compared to ”Cultural Industries” which in the beginning were understood as not only economic growth but also the non-commercial arts and culture. This change in the understanding slowly mirrored the policy and decisions in the city of Manchester, which in the long run made CIDS work with small-scale cultural businesses with specific conditions and in the middle of commercial and non-commercial difficult.
The other was the intermediary role, the balancing act between the city and policy becoming more and more instrumental and focused on economic growth, the other being the situation for artists and small cultural businesses and their specific needs which often didn’t fit in to the overall agenda of the city. The idea of building trust by sharing the same risk as the cultural field and taking a clear standing point for the artists, made the officials look upon CIDS as somewhat a maverick organisation.
It is interesting to see how the hopes for creative industries are growing, at the same time as the official support-structures, indicators and expectations still follow the traditional industry.
Read Justin O’Connor’s and Xin Gu’s report here: manchestercids.pdf.
How to measure culture without loosing its intrinsic value is of constant debate. And in cultural life the feeling is always to be loosing in relation to economic measurements. It is difficult to encircle and find relevant methods that value all those other things than hard facts, such as intrinsic and societal values. It seems almost hopeless to find when it is of value to count numbers and figures and when this counting becomes obsolete. Or ”pseudoquantities” as professor Sven-Erik Liedman would call it.
The UK Departement of Culture, Media and Sports just published a report on this with recomendations for a bit of different approach. Might be interesting for anyone arguing within this mess of measurements.
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