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In December 2014 the cultural journals found themselves in the centre of the Swedish media debate.
The State Cultural Committee (Kulturutskottet) decided in a meeting just before christmas to cut the budget for the cultural journals with nearly 80%. The debate was instant and agitated. The effect of the decision would be that the majority of cultural journals would have to close down. Qualified critical journalism and writing was in danger.
Cultural critics, journalists, writers, politicians from left to right, professional organizations and interest groups, were roaring writing articles, debating and arguing.
The debate showed the importance of these journals for the public debate.
At MEG 2015, the Media Days in Göteborg, the media elite in Sweden has gathered to discuss and debate. Nätverkstan with artist Helena Persson has commented on the role of the cultural journals and their near-death experience last December in a Lit de Parade for the journals: an installation called ”The Resurrection”.
It was followed by a seminar with editor and Nätverkstan Chair David Karlsson and journalist Siri Reuterstrand on ”The blue-collar workers in the public sphere – The role and importance of cultural journals”.
Never before have cultural journals been in the centre of the debate in Swedish media.
After the decision of the State Cultural Committee (Kulturutskottet) to cut the budget of the cultural journals with nearly 80%, the debate has been roaring.
Everyone: Cultural critics, journalists, writers; politicians from left to right (yes, even colleagues to Chair of the Committee, Per Bill, in the Conservative party have raised furious voices); professional organizations and interest groups, are writing articles, debating and arguing.
The decision has still not been changed to save the cultural journals.
But the Culture Minister who after the new election in March 2015 decides to reintroduce or even raise the support for the journals can only win. For a very small sum of money, this minister will gain respect and will be remembered as the one who saved the public critical dialogue and debate in Sweden.
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”A whole segment of critical debate is erased (…)” describes editor and critic Kim West in an article in Kunstkritikk where he writes about the outrage that hit Sweden on Friday (December 12th).
The coalition of Liberal-Conservatives is cutting the support for the rich variety of cultural journals in Sweden by around 80%. This means a whole art form is being closed down and killed. In one stroke of the red pen. No other European country has done the same.
This is possible due to the dramatic development in Swedish politics the last few weeks where the Sweden Democrats decided to vote for the opposition party’s budget, instead of the ruling left-wing coalition’s budget. This meant that the government’s budget didn’t win the election in parliament and therefore has to rule on the opposition party’s budget in waiting for the new election on March 22 2015.
And apparently the coalition of Liberal and Conservatives now take the chance to fulfil cuts of 365 million SEK in the cultural budget. 15 million SEK of these are being cut in one area specifically: cultural journals. The support for this area is 19 million SEK in total today, cutting 15 million SEK of these leaves 4 million SEK left.
This means that a whole sector is sentenced to a sure death.
Cultural journals are already living on the economic edge. Editors, writers, and critics are getting very low payment for their articles. These people are magicians who have dedicated their time to make sure that critical journalism and quality texts are still produced. The wide variety of critical and intensifying perspectives have been a pride in Swedish democracy. The Liberal-Conservatives showed on Friday how easily this could be ruined.
This is also done in a time when the media crisis is being discussed (just lately in three articles in the daily Göteborgs-Posten), newspapers are closing down their cultural pages, and critical and culture journalism is being severely threatened.
These times calls for action!
Sign this petition just to start with: Rädda Kulturtidskriftsstödet (Save the support for cultural journals).
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An art piece outside the Bibliothèque Nationale in Rabat (Morocco) called ”Digital” is reflecting on the new society. Old traditions meet the new knowledge and digital society.
”It’s not one modernity”, said South African poet, writer and Professor Pitika Ntuli in an engaging and poethic speech: ”there are several parallel modernities”. ”It’s time for the African Cultural Renaissance”, he continued.
Several examples of a growing cultural scene is shown. In Nigeria the film industry (Nollywood) comes to 10% of GDP in a country with around 174 million inhabitants. In Senegal the music industry is thriving and growing. South Africa is showing important examples as well as visual arts and museums in Morocco.
The global value of Cultural and Creative Industries is said to be around 600 billion USD.
Africa’s share is less then 1%. This is the topic of the three conference days.
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Gävle Symphony Orchestra is rehearsing as we pass by the auditorium to meet up the next interviewee for our analysis. Soft music is slipping through the closed double-doors.
During November and December we have been asked to do an analysis of Gävle Symphony Orchestra and Concert Hall, and suggest future development scenarios.
We stop at the sound of the music and peek in through the loophole in the door to get a glimpse. The music is overwhelming, concentration tense.
This is just an ordinary day at work in the concert hall.
Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine, is empty except for some people rushing across to their different morning activities and a piano painted in Ukraine colours standing lonely on the side.
A wooden board has been put up with photographs of the victims from the Maidan revolution last February (2014) that ended with an overthrown Ukrainan government, and the old president fleeing to Russia. Russian military forces took over Crimea as well as the Eastern parts of Ukraine where fights are still going on. The photographs on the board are getting worn out by rain and wind. They are only of men: one with his cat, another young boy looking seriously in to the camera, yet another a man standing the middle of the demonstration giving a quick glance in the direction of the photographer.
Sunday 26 of October is the election, but here on the Maidan Square we don’t see any evidence of this upcoming event. The on-going crisis in the East with Russia is, though, in the mind of everyone I meet.
On the conference Cultural Policy in Europe today: Finance, management, audience development arranged by EUNIC and the Eastern Partnership, culture is in focus and big hopes and importance are attached to the culture field. Minister of Culture, Yevhen Nyshchuk, opens the seminar by emphasizing culture as the key for growth and development in Ukraine and Europe.
Walter Zampieri, Head of Unit, Culture Policy and Intercultural dialogue at the Directorate General for Education and Culture at the European Commission, stresses the same and says that Culture and Creative Industries encompass around 4% of GDP in Europe. This is an important field in Europe today.
Ukraine is eager to build relations with the EU, an agenda has finally been signed that will guarantee cooperation. Culture and Creative Industries are one of the areas where money will be spent and efforts put in.
But can culture play this role? And can it just be instrumental? Doesn’t artistic value and quality need to be at the core of any such discussions?
One of the speakers, Mr Luciano Gloor, got the chance to answer a question posed by a man in film business that was wondering how to meet what he saw as propaganda done by the Russians, and if perhaps film could be a tool to counteract this?
The answer was straightforward and clear: As soon as you forget your passion and artistic values in producing your art, it will also become propaganda.
The audience will immediately see through any such attempt and judge you as others are judged that only commit to use art as propaganda.
Cooperation, not competition was this year’s theme for the network Trans Europe Halles’ yearly conference in Plzen, Czech Republic on October 9-12.
But the main topic and worry during this conference was the fact that the network lost its European network support from European Union.
The European Union was set up in 1945 after the Great Wars with the aim to through cooperation build a peaceful Europe. Mobility has therefore been central for the European Commission as a way to facilitate people to meet.
The European networks within culture have played an important role in this regard. People have been meeting over old closed borders, across political differences or old rival countries. On a network meeting recently with Encatc, the European Network for Cultural Administration Training Centres, Russian and Ukrainian participants discussed art management and its development in the midst of the Ukrainian crises. East meet West, North meet South, and across. It goes back to Socrates (469-399 BC) and his idea of the value of the Socratic discussion where arguments meet and a learning process can start.
These are significant meetings and their importance should not be under estimated. The European Union should continue support a wide variety of European networks.
”There is a shift in the balance of power”, says Tyler Stonebreaker, founder of Creative Space, ”Political boundaries are becoming less relevant. Instead it’s where the audience is”. And Los Angeles, described as one of three hubs of the creative industries in the USA, has this.
”We have content”, as Tyler Stonebreaker puts it, and sips on his Macchiato at Stumptown Coffee on South Santa Fe Avenue in the Arts District. The Coffee brewery is one of the projects Creative Space has been working with, helping them establish in L.A.
The Arts District has grown to become a thriving interesting hub for cultural and creative businesses in the past twenty years or so.
It’s an area that has changed over time from the middle of 1800s when it was the largest producer of wine in California; to become citrus groves and home for filmmaker DW Griffith who filmed parts of the first Hollywood films here; to by World War II becoming factories for the rail freight industry.
In 1960s and 70s artists moved in to the then abandoned industry buildings, something acknowledged by the City of Los Angeles who in 1981 passed the Artist in Residence (AIR) program which let artists live and work in these buildings.
We know this story. It’s seen in so many places around the world: abandoned factory and industry buildings turning into hubs, clusters, artistic residencies, that if rightly nurtured by the public officials can become an important drive for economy. Or at least that’s what politicians hope for. Thriving cities and regions that will be able to take up the competition of interest from tourists, being the place where people choose to live, and where entrepreneurs and the big enterprises decide to settle.
But can you decide to nurture this development? Or is it better for governmental authorities to keep their hands off and let things grow on their own?
British consultant Paul Owens once described art and culture growing like algae. They grow where you least suspect them to, where you don’t even would like them to grow, and they can’t really be nurtured. The best is to just keep hands off and let it grow as wild – and sometimes unwanted – as any weed.
It’s contradictory and for municipality and regional politicians and officials today’s million dollar question: How do you best nurture cultural and creative industries?
In the later years the interest for cultural and creative industries has grown in Los Angeles and a sense that these industries and their economic potential needs to be acknowledged more. The Otis report on the Creative Economy (2013) shows that one out of seven jobs in Los Angeles County and Orange County are related to Creative industries, it’s 1,4 million jobs in the state of California that are within the Creative Industries, and 7,4% of California’s Gross State Product.
Read also the report ”LA Creates. Supporting the Creative Economy in Los Angeles” by Keith McNutt: LA CREATES.
The final semester of the two-year International Culture Project Management Training Program, Kulturverkstan, youdo an internship at an cultural och social organization, or run your own project. The internship is prepared thoroughly with planning classes and where you decide a theme or question you would like to look into during the internship.
This adds up to a public presentation in the end of the semester with invited guests, discussion partners and (or) opponents. This year’s addition of the presentations held the same high quality as last year, with interesting topics such as Cultural Heritage and Digitization; Food Trucks’ introduction to Göteborg; Art, status, and conditions; The concept
of class – is this still relevant?; Alternative forms of exhibitions; and many more (read more here).
The last thing to do is Wednseday’s graduation party and then we will meet 35 new excellent Cultural Project Managers out there!
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Professor Justin O’Connor will soon host Göteborg and Stockholm discussing cultural and creative industries and the myth of the creative city.
In 2007, Professor Justin O’Connor wrote the report The cultural and creative industries: a review of the literature for the University of Leeds that might be useful background for the eager participant.
Are we in the moment of time where a need for ”a refusal of creativity and its illusions in a spirit Adorno would recognise” and maybe ”creativity” is the problem? Will the underlying tensions in the cultural industries between capitalism and cultural value call for another understanding of the concept?
Read more here: oconnor_justin_cultural-creative-industries-15.pdf.
During some winter months Nätverkstan, together with Sture Carlsson who is former CEO of the Göteborg Symphony Orchestra, Swedish Performing Arts and more, have dug deep into the situation of Wermland Opera.
Opera is probably the most expensive art form and operas around Europe are facing the same problem: increasing costs and lowered or stagnant public funding.
In many countries in Europe the tradition is to put a high degree of public funding into opera and concert halls. Today the situation is changing and for Italian opera houses – the cradle of the art form – the situation is acute. The accumulated deficit for Italian opera houses is enormous 300 million euro.
Wermland Opera, a small opera house situated in Karlstad in Region Värmland, is no exception. Although already getting a relatively large amount of the regional cultural budget (72%), the reality is that they have had to cut in expenses (mainly staff and productions).
Wermland Opera has showed impressive artistic results in its productions. In 2011 they put up the full Wagner Ring trilogy – something even large opera houses find challenging – a production that caused ripples far outside of Värmland with Wagner fans from all over the world traveling to the city and the national press praising the effort.
The opera house has managed to show high artistic quality opera in a small format, something that perhaps can be described as a new model of working for small opera houses with relatively limited budgets in Europe.
But they also face challenges. They can’t cut more in the economy without endangering the artistic quality. At the same time, getting such a high amount of the regional cultural budget as they do, leaving crumbles for other cultural initiatives, they also have a large responsibility. They need to open up for cooperations and to a larger degree see themselves a regional cultural resource.
Read articles in Swedish Television Värmlandsnytt, Swedish radio P4 Värmland or download the following articles here: Articles_WO.pdf. Read also the article ”The End of Italian Opera: Will They Wait for the Fat Lady to Sing?” in Newsweek. Read related post here.
As the bus with the musicians from Wermland Opera leaves Karlstad to go to the evening concert in Karlskoga, darkness comes early and fast. Most of the trip goes through the woods of Värmland in pinch black darkness and in poring rain.
The orchestra at Wermland Opera, normally based in Karlstad, does tours like this now and then to small cities in the region to let opera and classical music reach out to the different corners of Värmland. The concert this evening is arranged by Karlskoga Konsertförening and is this year’s Epiphany Concert led by conductor Henrik Schaefer.
Karlskoga (Karls Skogar/Woods of Karl) got its name from king Karl IX who saw these woods as his royal woods and is a small city of around 27.000 inhabitants. Between 1970–2010, the municipality of Karlskoga was second on the top list of municipalities in Sweden loosing most inhabitants.
When the bus stops at Bregårdsskolan, the location for the evening concert, the musicians eat, change, rig the stage, do the sound check, and start in no time. Around 150 people have found their way to the school assembly hall, average age being sixty plus something, to listen to the tones of Richard, Josef, and Johann Jr Strauss, and composer Constanze Geiger.
Karlskoga born opera-singer Anna-Maria Krawe sings and on Oboe is Malin Klingborg. Conductor Henrik Schaefer guides the audience through the concert in a pedagogic way that inspires, and the story of how he digged deep in the library in Vienna to find a suitable piece to perform by female composer Constanze Geiger is open and inviting.
After the concert, everything is packed back in the accompanying small trucks, musicians in the bus, and within thirty minutes or so the assembly hall is empty as if nothing has happened.
Research has been done to try to prove what art and culture mean to us human beings. At University of Gothenburg you find Centre for Culture and Health, a centre focussing on research and statistics to show the positive connections between culture and health.
It’s hard to say if the audience of this concert got healthier after listening to the orchestra. Or if people are more willing to stay and live in Karlskoga thanks to events like this (another large discussion in Europe). If so, these effects are secondary. First and most, it was a wonderful moment of music.
Kulturchock packed the suitcases with Swedish cultural journals and travelled to Helsinki Book Fair that just took place.
On the airport they met the first (that we have seen) print-on-demand machine for buying periodicals and journals, Meganews. It’s time to check what the deal is and how cultural journals can be part of this very modern way of buying journals.
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.
The Cultural Journal Glänta is celebrating 20 years and do this with an App full of future words. Like Deppbägare, Dialogdemonstrant, Öntreprenera, and Öövermod (sorry, an English translation of these words doesn’t exist yet as hardly the words yet exist…).
A few years ago the journal invited over hundred artists, writers, researchers, philosophers, and journalists to add one piece each to the puzzle and the Future Encyclopedia was born. It started as a printed journal and has now become an App for Iphone and Ipad possible to download for free.
Nätverkstan has created the App as part of the effort of together with Cultural Journals find new, simple, and economic sound ways to publish text in print and digital format. Also download the App for the Journal Ord&Bild.
Göteborg is the host city of one of the biggest book fairs in Northern Europe. The latest years, the need of finding another positioning has evolved and to meet this need Mediadagarna – The Media Days fires off for the second year in a row.
Nätverkstan and Kulturchock, who work vividly with different ideas and initiatives to meet up the needs of the cultural journals, see this platform as one way of putting the Swedish cultural journals on the map.
We are already convinced of the multi-dimensional spread in content as well as subjects presented in the printed cultural journals and their role in Swedish democracy. What we had not digged deeper into before was the sound of them. What would they sound like if it was sound? We decided to build a sound installation in order to make them ”speak” in a new way.
From an old portable typewriter you hear the sound of typings from laptops as well as manual key buttons in a mxi with lead pencils writing on paper. ”Typings” is a 7`48”tape recording played in a loop.
From the headphones attached to the installation play a variation of sound samples from cultural magazines that work with additional formats as sound. Some do radio, talking magazines or present sound art works along with their releases. For this special occasion we also did a special recording of a young girl reading poetry from the arty, literary, and philosophic edition of OEI.
Text and photo: Helena Persson
To find the depth in culture journals you don’t need 3D-glasses, but sometimes a little better exposure would help.
The team running the Nätverkstan project Kulturchock (Culture Chock), who are quoted above, are clever people. New this year is a cooperation with eleven specific bookshops to expose the cultural journals under the signature ”Cultural Journals Weeks”. Some of the best bookhops in the country are leaving their best marketing spot to cultural journals: the shopping-windows!
The Cultural Journals Week will be visable from South to North during January and February and some already started!
The new year and our new cultural strategic assignment kick started with a seminar at Vara Concert Hall, focused on the topic of streamed culture, last Thursday. The Swedish government has marked digitalization as an important way for culture to reach a wider audience (read here). Vara Concert Hall celebrates their 10th anniversary this fall and together with Nätverkstan they are now in the process of implementing technology and procedures to start live streaming their events. Their aim is completely in line with the thoughts from the Swedish government – especially to reach people not able to come to the cultural events, in places such as prisons, homes for the old and hospitals.
The first action in our mutual project was to identify and invite the most prominent organizations in the field to a hearing. Our aim has always been to support the small and independent organizations and we are glad that Vara Concert Hall shares this belief. Together, we also believe that sharing knowledge and solutions strengthens the efforts made, and that this is especially true in the complex field of digitalizations where new technology is introduced almost on a daily basis. The procurement of digital services is an intricate matter and smaller organizations often make mistakes in the process – which in turn means that tax money is wrongly spent on expensive and short lived solutions.
The keynote speakers were Urban Ward from Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Ulrik Flood from Digital Live Arena, Peo Thyrén from STIMand Johannes Nebel from Play Kultur. In the audience were representatives from the Swedish Arts Council, Kultur i Väst, Kultursekretariatet i Västra Götaland as well as people from cinemas and smaller cultural organizations. Moderator for the hearing (and project manager for Vara Live Stream) was Leif Eriksson from Nätverkstan.
Magnus Lemark from the Swedish Arts Council remarked that this hearing is a running start for them, as they have just been handed the assignment from the Swedish Government, to help the Swedish cultural sector over the digital threshold. And Johannes Nebel agreed that this kind of meetings to share knowledge is the best way to get knowledge and tackle new complex investments. He also said that the main problem for digital material is distribution, and that Sweden lacks the kind of marketplaces that focus solely on culture. Play Kultur was started with exactly this in mind, to become the first portal for live streamed and archived material on performing arts.
We hope that Johannes last words from the hearing gives echo and they will certainly work inspiring for our own efforts: ”Västra Götaland now has the chance to be the first region in Sweden to show how coordination of digital efforts works.”
Our cooperation with Vara Concert Hall continues, and knowledge produced within the project will be made public in a conference later this fall. But we are also open to smaller hearings in the region and we especially look forward to the 20th of May, when GSO and Play Kultur are hosting a seminar in Gothenburg. Cooperation makes us stronger!
By Carl Forsberg, Head of Medialab and Technique at Nätverkstan
The 31st of December was a historic day. The very last printed issue of Newsweek was published and distributed. From now on the only way to read Newsweek is on the web.
Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine, published since 1933 in New York City and with US and international distribution. I
n October 2012 the editor Tina Brown announced that the weekly would end it’s eighty years of printed publication to go only digital. It’s an historic change and follows a period of changes within in printed press due to changing reading habits. Read more of the challenges and future of print here.
Nätverkstan managed to get the hands on a copy of the very last issue. And as the historic winds of change are blowing around us we continue our work to help small cultural journals and publicists to face the digital challenges and find solutions that are cost effective. This year the project Literature and digitization will take further steps in this direction with funding from Region Västra Götaland.
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