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In Nairobi, Kenya, meeting with the people from the GoDown Art Centre and now developing step two of the educational programme ”Reaping the value out of your artistic creativity”.
GoDown Art Centre and Nätverkstan have cooperated since 2009 on workshops and developing ideas of how to build a capacity-building programme for artists and cultural entrepreneurs in East Africa. Professional artists from different art forms, university professors, directors, managers, and others from the cultural scene have been involved in building the content of the programme so that it will fill the needs found by the sector in the context of East Africa.
In the developing process Sian Prime at Goldsmiths University has been involved, also Kenya Polytechnic University in Nairobi, British Council, and Swedish Institute.
The result has been tested in two pilot programmes of 10 weeks that were run in 2012, each with around
30 emerging and professional artists in each group. And now we are gathering again to continue the journey of developing step 2 of the programme.
And I can’t help but think of the article in the new issue of the Art journal Paletten in Sweden about a week before leaving for Kenya. The article is arguing that all talk of entrepreneurship within the art is a sign of instrumentalization and the economization of the art, a result of this are courses on art and entrepreneurship at the university.
It’s necessary to always argue for the role of art and culture in society, and rightly being critical to some processes and initiatives. But to wipe away all efforts on trying to find useful ways to tackle artist’s reality as freelancers and how to deal with their livelihood as neo-liberalism is a little far-fetched. It can only be said by someone who doesn’t have to worry about money.
The reality in Kenya (and Sweden) is that you have to try to find ways to balance your artistic practice with income so bills can be paid and food put on the table. Some do this by trying to live on their art, some do this by finding bread jobs and pursuing the artistic practice and career on their free time. Solutions are many.
It’s not about becoming just like any other business, instead it’s the opposite. It’s about putting efforts into finding ways forward that works within the artistic field and for your artistic practice.
Reading the evaluations from the two pilots, participants seem to agree.
Department of Finance invite each year board members and CEOs of state owned companies to a half-day board conference on different current topics. Today this year’s conference was held at Dramaten (Royal Dramatic Theatre) on the pressing issue of ”Sustainable business” with prominent guests as Al Gore, David Blood, and Petter Stordalen, and an introduction by Minister of Market Finance, Peter Norman.
According to the Swedish state’s definition of ”sustainable business” it includes how companies work with human rights, employment conditions, environment, anti-corruption, business ethics, diversity, and equality.
And apparently all of us board members in different state-owned boards are doing an excellent job.
This was pointed out by all speakers, with the exception of Petter Stordalen, who eagerly and passionately was claiming that we could all start our sustainable work today. Now! But for the rest it was more of a clap on the shoulder and reassurances that ”you are all doing such a good job!” looking out of the audience.
”I am happy with the support I get from the state”, two of the participants in the last panel claimed. With a cosy self-confidence the two CEOs answered the moderator’s questions on how they work sustainable, challenges they meet and how they solve them, and if they are satisfied with the support from their owner, the state. And they are happy with the support, both reassured.
And you wonder how is that possible?
How is it possible to scratch each other’s backs and claim satisfaction, when companies in the world, which also includes Swedish companies (state and privately owned), are still violating human rights? When climate goals are not reached? When children are used in child labour? When textile workers die in Bangladesh due to lousy working conditions? When women and children are sexually abused?
Shouldn’t the questions instead be: What are we all doing wrong? What is it we are NOT doing so that these violations can continue? What is it we are NOT doing but SHOULD do to fulfill the ambitions with sustainable business?
This tricky question has been under research in France lately, ending in a nearly five hundred pages long report with around eighty concrete propositions, reaching from loans to employment.
On May 13 Pierre Lescure, normally director of Théâtre de Marigny and the last nine months President of the mission Acte 2 de l’exception culturelle, handed over his report Contribution to cultural policy in the digital era to Président Hollande.
”60–80% of the suggestions are followed by effects on regulation to make sure a movement is started”, says Lescure.
In heart of the research is how to preserve the intellectual property rights for authors in the digital era, but he is not in favour of a ”global license” fee that will finance the creative work. ”Internet doesn’t demand more or less regulation, but another type of regulation” it’s said.
Instead the suggestion from Lescure is to find a solution that is financing the ”ecosystem”, which in concrete terms means going back to the operators and Internet providers. Shift from the old tax-system to a new one, which would be a tax on the total turnover of the operators of Internet. The money from the tax should be put on an account with the aim to help cultural industries in the transition to the digital era.
Read more here.
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