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With a first-quarter GDP in US showing an increase of only 1.8 percent (less than expected 3 percent), declining housing prices, less consumption, an unemployment rate on 9.1 percent (in May only 54.000 new jobs were created), Rana Foroohar argues in Time (June 20 2011) it is time to kill the five most destructive myths of the US Economy:
1) This is a temporary blip, and then it’s full steam ahead
2) We can buy our way out of all this
3) The private sector will make it all better
4) We’ll pack up and move for new jobs
5) Entrepreneurs are the foundation of the economy
Both Republicans and Democrats are pursuing these myths of how the economy will recover, she writes. Instead a different path of growth has to be established rather than continue to believe in these five points.
Under the last myth the point is made that a good system of technical colleges are needed which will require a ”frank conversation” about the four-year liberal arts degree that may well leave the graduates overleveraged and underemployed.
A few thoughts come to mind.
The cultural field is highly entrepreneurial, cultural practitioners are entrepreneurs. In Europe many believe that it is in the creative industries where new jobs will be created. Maybe it is a bit hopeful; the sector is still a comparably small field. But it is growing.
If you read formal reports on unemployment rate within the art field, it does look depressing. But these figures need always to be read and analyzed together with other formal reports from other areas. Many studies show figures pointing at the cultural field as a growing field. Not in comparison with the large car industries as we use to know them, or perhaps the telecom industry. Yet important. The easy conclusion is that artists are over-represented in society. But reports and statistics are pointing in opposing directions (read more here).
Reading another report by the well-known Italian economist Pier Luigi Sacco, another interesting association is put forward to bear in mind. He puts two ranking tables next to each other: One ranking innovation in EU15 countries (2008) and one ranking Active Artistic Participation (EU15 2007).
And he notes:
”It is interesting to notice that the association is established between innovative capacity at the country level and active cultural participation at the same level. This is of course a preliminary piece of evidence, but it seems to suggests that the mechanisms discussed above seem to mirror into data more clearly than one could expect.”
It looks as if active participation in art has a correlation with the innovative capacity of a country. If this is right, we need a large flow of well-educated and professional artists from liberal arts Universities as well as easy access to practice art from a young age. Specifically, that is, if a country wants to ensure high innovation capacity.
Download Pier Luigi Sacco’s report here: pl-sacco-culture-3-0-ccis-local-and-regional-development-2.pdf.
According to data creative industries in Kenya hold five percent of GDP, Joy Mboya at GoDown Arts Centre tells us. Which is more than fishing, for example, which traditionally has been one of the important income streams in Kenya.
The GoDown Arts Centre took an initiative in 2009 to start a discussion on creative economy and creative industries in East Africa and has arranged conferences on the theme and initiated workshops for artists on cultural entrepreneurship in cooperation with Sian Prime at Goldsmiths University in UK and Nätverkstan.
To build a strong and sustainable cultural scene in Kenya and East Africa, there is a need to expand the amount of well-educated and in the cultural field established people that can run organizations, take initiatives, catalyze new ideas and develop opportunities.
Two needs have been identified by the GoDown: 1) Short-term capacity-building programmes for cultural entrepreneurs should be available on a consistent basis and 2) A one- or two-year capacity-building program for East Africa for upcoming and younger people getting into the field but with the need of getting more knowledge on project management, entrepreneurial skills and so forth.
This called for an invitation to gather educators and teachers from University and Polytechnics as well as artists and cultural practitioners to gather and together look at how this could be drawn up.
The two and half days workshop ended with a well thought through outline of content, time, assessment, pedagogical approaches, who the students will be and competencies for teachers and facilitators. But it also raised interesting (and challenging) questions.
How do you build relevant assessment in an education like this?
The program should be both addressing cultural practitioners and entrepreneurs within all art forms as well as young people with ambitions to work in the field – what challenges will that mean for the education?
What are the specific competencies needed of teachers and facilitators for a program like this?
It should be possible for multi-entry and multi-exit in the programme – how do you create a programme with high flexibility and openness and yet with accredited courses and of high quality and content recognized by the educational system?
The GoDown Arts Centre is an interesting place with an interesting story behind it. Everytime I come to Nairobi, I realize how true this is.
The art centre is placed in the Industrial Area in Nairobi, an area as the name tells mainly used for industry and car workshop complexes. The initiators found this U-shaped area around a warehouse in the middle, a godown, with a total area of around 6000 square metres. Today you find this space being turned into studios for visual artists, home for music companies, dance companies, meeting place for artists, Nairobits, all in a combination of art, culture and social activities. Many of the artists pursue both their own career, and build training and development for non-privileged children.
The GoDown Arts Centre wanted to become a presenting house, but realized soon that the artists themselves did this. They ran their own organization and presented their work, it was not necessary for the GoDown as a centre to do this. So they became more and more producers, providing training and possibilities. In 2009 they started the work on creative economy and what this could mean for cultural entrepreneurs.
When they first started around 2003 they visited other cultural houses to get ideas. They got advice along the way such as:
”Don’t over-renovate. Keep the space simple and flexible”
”Do not fall into the trap of running a building”
A main question they are working with is how do you give capacity to the art field? They also found a lack of data and research in this field, there were no reliable data of the cultural field. They have come to work with a wide variety of projects and workshops and have also shaped capacity-building for entrepreneurs.
This led to another question: How could they have a one- or two-year program, an accredited program for cultural entrepreneurs, producers and others in the field? How do you begin to build such a program.
A starting work has been done together with Nätverkstan and Sian Prime from ICCE at the Goldsmiths University. During two days we are now working with a group of trainers, educators, practitioners in Nairobi to come closer to a Capacity-Building Programme for East Africa.
See more posts on The GoDown Arts Centre and Nätverkstan’s work in Kenya here.
Do you know the price of oil? Could you tell the eight Millenium goals set in 2000?
Venu Dhupa, Director Creative Development at Creative Scotland, starts with a quiz with the audience. We live in a globalized world and as leaders of cultural institutions it is necessary with a global perspective.
”Institutionally we are out of touch” and the question Venu Dhupa asks is: ”Are you looking for people just managing things or are you looking for leaders?”
Other skills are important for leaders such as ability to deal with uncertainty, question and reflection, perspective, a sense of place in the world and sense of value,
A series of two seminars took place recently, the first at Kulturhuset in Stockholm led by Sune Nordgren, and the second at Hanaholmen – Hanasaari kulturcentrum in Helsinki, to discuss leadership within cultural institutions and small organizations with guest speaker Venu Dhupa.
The seminars were arranged in cooperation between Kulturhuset Stockholm, Hanaholmen – Hanasaari Kulturcentrum, Kulturfonden för Sverige och Finland, Cultural Leadership Award in Sweden and Nätverkstan.
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