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There is a unison tone on the European Forum on Cultural Industries in Barcelona. Cultural and Creative Industries are seen as the driving force of economy in Europe. It’s among the top priorities. Figures presented show that this field employ 15% of Londoners, between 2000-2005 creative industries grew by 10% in Europe which is more than other industries, and holds 3,1% of GDP in Europe. Everyone is here; ministers and bureaucrats from all around Europe and from all levels from European Commission to state, region and local level. Civil servants, University lecturers and professors, and representatives from cultural companies to the business field. And they all agree. Creative Industries hold a potential of economic growth in Europe. This has to be part of the European 2020 strategy.
Spain holds the presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2010. And they have chosen to organize the Forum in cooperation with European Commission and Chamber of Commerce in Barcelona. Perhaps it’s not so surprising. Barcelona has fostered many famous Artists, as Pablo Picasso who grew up here as young, and of course the home of Gaudi, the famous architect and foremost Artist in Art Noveau tradition. Around the city you find Gaudi’s architecture, but also sculptures and Art works done by many other Artists in a mix of modern and traditional. The Catalonian State has put culture high on the agenda and are proud of their Artists.
Perhaps significant of the Forum is the lack of insight among the ministers and bureaucrats of what the creative industries consist of. What it is. The risk of EU putting money into the wrong incentives, and in all good intentions write new declarations that never reach the actual field is large. The expected evaluation of Mike Coyne, Director of Centre for Strategy and Evaluation Services, might be helpful in throwing some light on who all the creators are and their effects on local and regional structures. Also the expected survey by Giep Hagoort, Professor of Art and Economics at Utrecht University and Utrecht School of Arts, this spring is promising. His message being, which is also our experience from the work we have done at Nätverkstan and backed by several reports of this field from among others UK; it’s a field run by Artists within in different Art forms, organized in small-scale, micro and nano businesses and freelancers who work in networks and informal structures. When putting forward incentives and supportive structures in the cultural field, these have to be as complex as the field is.
Also significant is the lack of small-scale Artists in panels and as keynote speakers. They are there, but not as many as you would wish for. Instead you find some of them outside in an alternative forum, campaigning for the freedom on Internet, led by well-known comic Leo Bassi. Government is promoting a ”download law”, which many Artists are protesting against. Inside, at the Forum, several of the Cultural Ministers and other representatives on the contrary put forward the necessity of strong Intellectual Property Rights.
The Forum ended with six of the Cultural Ministers (we missed the Swedish Minister) giving their comments from a parallel meeting where creative industries has been discussed and with the aim of presenting a Green Paper on Culture. A Green paper released by the European Commission is a discussion document, which hope to stimulate debate and be a process for consultation on a topic. It usually comes before the White Paper, which is a more formal document. This was never presented; it was still too unready, but expect the Green Paper coming during spring.
And outside business were going on as usual among our cultural entrepreneurs; street musicians, living sculptures, painters, and other Artistic professionals.
Four conference days filled with seminars, working group meetings, worksops, study visits and meetings in Barcelona just took place at the Encatc Annual Conference.
During the talk between Isabelle Schwartz from European Cultural Foundation, Angels Margarit from Angels Margarit Dance Company, and Angel Meastres from Transit the role of cultural managers were tossed and turned. What is the role of cultural managers? Is it only a role mainly having Artistic production on one side and management on the other? On other point put forward was that of representation within the EU-institutions and funding. The Artistic point of view is not put forward in an organized form, since the organization among Artists is quite week. The publishing house, recording companies, film industry are represented and have organisations that lobby for their interest, but not the Artists. That is more on individual level. There is an interesting balance between framework and independence, something Angel Meastres put forward, and where is the cultural manager? They are mainly emphasizing ideas and how to find money, not society and building infrastructre. Something to consider in educational programmes around Europe.
A visit at Can Xalant showed an Artistic collective, Transit, running residency-programmes, workshops and exhibitions. An old farming house, owned by the municipality, now embedded and surrounded by larger companies and industries. Their deal was quite unusual. The municipality set up a competetion to find who would get the possibility to run the building. Artistic groups sent in their proposals of activities and ideas. Transit won and had now built an infrastructure, programmes, activities and resiencies. Now it’s time to apply again, with a new application. Their time run out in December, and they will get the decision…in December. January 1 they are supposed to continue with programming if they get money, if not, they are supposed to leave the house with everything in it. Either step on the gas pedal or brake.
So, how do you plan a serious and sustainable organization under those conditions?
For the conference programme, look here. Nätverkstan took part in two presentations: 1) the working group meeting ”Creative Entrepreneurship and Education in Cultural Life”, download the pdf here: encatcwg_barcelona-oct09. , and 2) the dialogue on ”How to detect creativity potentials in the digital environment” together with Jordi Sellas i Ferrés at, among other things, RBA Audovisual. Download the presentation here: encatc09-presentation-oct-09_2.
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