Archive för Germany

Artists & Arts Industries – the end of CCI?

Two of the leading authorities on cultural industries, Justin O’Connor from Monash University (Australia) and Birgit Mandel from Hildesheim University (Germany) are visiting Stockholm and the Arts Grants Committee on Tuesday (April 29) for an open seminar on the future of CCI.

A few years ago, Konstnärsnämnden (The Swedish Arts Grants Committee) published the anthology “Artists and the Arts Indu­stries” with a view to highlighting cultural Industries from the artists’ viewpoint.

Previously, these industries had mainly been described and elaborated by economists and cultural geograph­ ers, by business developers and public officials. With the help of five foreign and Swedish professors, artists and cultural critics, a deeper perspective was adopted: Did for instance the discussion on creative industries have an impact on the arts field itself – and if so, how? In what respects was the discussion relevant to the artists?

Are we witnessing the end of cul­tural and creative industries or are we at the beginning of some­ thing new? If you are in Stockholm, or happen to pass – join the discussion!

Invitation to the seminar is here: Seminarinvitation.pdf.

28 april, 2014

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Banality of evil

On a three day seminar in Stockholm at Museum of Modern Art in 2007 to celebrate a hundred years since philosopher Hannah Arendt’s birth, the book on Eichmann in Jerusalem and the banality of evil was not mentioned, journalist and critic Ingrid Elam noticed in her review of the seminar in daily Dagens Nyheter. It was not until someone in the audience asked the key speaker, philosopher Agnes Heller, that this work was discussed. It was all good reasons for this; the focus was on Arendt’s other important work.

Yet, reading Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963) it’s difficult not to stay with her theories and reflect on their importance. They not only say something about the times in Europe during the Nazi era, they describe an on-going civil dilemma between bureaucratization and people.

Two things are especially terrifying and still today relevant.

One is the systematic way the in which the bureaucracy was built around, first emigration of the Jewish people from Germany, later the ”final solution” to send Jews to death centers. The language used to describe this wasn’t a mass-murderer’s, Hannah Arendt reflects, it was instead in terms such of ”programs” organizationally put under ”administration and economy”. Hitler and his men managed to build a bureaucracy in which the language around the ”final solution” was not immediately offensive or against people’s normal conscience. Finally, it seemed like a necessity, like an objective question that needed a solution.

The other is how she described Eichmann. He was not a monstrous murderer; he was not even particularly evil. She de-demonized him and he stands out neither as a diabolic character or a fanatic. He is just a dull bureaucrat with no ideas and a complete lack of critical thinking. He follows orders and is trying to do his job the best he can, wanting to climb to more important jobs and positions within the structure.

Since Arendt wrote this book in 1960s, even since the seminar in 2007, the European society has changed.

The economic crisis have had devastating effects in many countries with high unemployment rates and raise of poverty as a result. Art and culture has seen substantial cuts, of which effects for society we haven’t yet seen. Where will critical thinking be practiced?

Racist parties around Europe are filling seats in parliaments, some of them with roots in neo-Nazism. They changed their shaved heads to slick hairstyles and proper suits to better fit in to the political corridors. Their language is changing to not being immediately offensive and therefore suit a larger group of the population. Their main point on the agenda is limiting immigration, keeping a nation ”traditional” concerning everything from habits, culture and people.

As Ingrid Elam writes in her article (DN 15/1 2007), If Arendt had lived today she would have written about how today’s stateless people and refugees are handled by very ordinary people.

Hanna Arendt wrote the book ”Eichmann in Jerusalem” in 1963 and it is a collection of a series of articles written when she was covering the trial on Nazi Adolf Eichmann for the journal The New Yorker in Jerusalem in 1961. The book is translated into Swedish and published by Daidalos in 1996.

Article by Ingrid Elam in Dagens Nyheter (DN) on 15 of January 2007 can be found here.

In this year’s Göteborg International Film Festival (January 2013) they showed the film on Hannah Arendt by director Margarethe von Trotta.

American artist Andrea Geyer did an interesting piece on the trial with Hannah Arendt’s book as main base, Criminal Case 40/61: Reverb, 2009, which was shown, among other places, at Göteborg Konsthall in 2010.

Read related posts here, here, and here.

4 augusti, 2013

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Ruhr area is described as a metropolis in Germany. For the first time an area has become the European Cultural Capital of 2010 (one of them), an area of 53 cities (se comments), where five cities are put forward as central: Dortmund, Essen, Bochum, Oberhausen and Düsseldorf together form the metropolis and the base for activities during Ruhr.2010.

But at the tourist office in Dortmund, they are not sure. Information of Ruhr 2010? No….we don’t know. The only thing going on in Dortmund that evening is the Philharmonic playing Haydn and Brahms at the Concert hall, we learn (a beautiful concert!).

dortmunderu2The next day we find the designated place for Ruhr 2010 in Dortmund, only a few blocks away from the tourist office; the U. The Dortmunder U is an old beer brewery now becoming a centre for art and creativity. It’s not finished yet, plans are it will gather cultural education, media center, museum, and exhibition halls in one building.

The Ruhr was the center for old coal and steel mining industry in Europe and as such been the zone for conflicts and wars. Here the EU was born, the first steps were taken around 1950s with the Schumandeclaration. It was crucial in Europe to make peace, not war, and therefore necessary to find ways of cooperation around coal and steel mining.

Today this industry is closed down and many of the old mines are now museums. Other buildings are left empty and the hopes are that these will be filled with other activities and businesses. Such as art and culture.

Is the artistic community dense enough to be able to talk about a creative industry? Will this create the new jobs? And does the ambitious programme of activities in Ruhr 2010 include the community so that changes and ambitions will continue after the Cultural Capital year? Views go apart on this when you ask around.

The changes in Ruhr are not new. It started around ten to fifteen years ago, which might set out for a more long-term view of changes which will hopefully lead to new sustainable jobs.

When Swedish researcher Lisbeth Lindeborg visited the Ruhr area in 1991, she in her report Kultur som lokaliseringsfaktor – erfarenheter från Tyskland (my translation: Culture as localization factor – experiences from Germany) pointed out the fact that art and culture played an important role in changes of cities and regions. Art and culture were the factors for localization of businesses and well-being in an area.

A statement creating a harsch debate in Sweden at the time, specifically among the artistic community. Art should not be seen as an instrument for something else. Art is important for its own sake, was the argument.

For another view than the official, you can read at the blog Ruhr Barone of journalists blogging on the Ruhr area. Here a post by Stefan Laurin: Die Kreativen und die Politik im Ruhrgebiet, where he says that Dortmunder U only has become an exhibition hall and museum.


Some facts on German Creative Industries:

Work force in 2006 within Creative Industries was 938.000 people. In 2007, 970.000 people, and in 2008 over 1 million. In 2008 it was 3.3% of the total workforce in Germany.

Turnover in these industries was estimated at 132 billion euro and there were around 238.000 companies in this field.

Gross value added was for 1) Engineering industry 74 billioen euro, 29 Automotive industry 71 billion euro, and 3) Creative industry 61 billion euro which was 2,6% of economic output.

Source for information: German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, Final Report Culture and Creative Industries of 30.01.2009, through the information leeflet handed out by Dortmunder U: Boosting the creative industries.

The visit in Germany is part of a study being produced on knowledge production and research within creative industries, a work done for the think tank on these issues in Region Västra Götaland.


27 november, 2010

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A quick glance: Creative industries in Germany

Monica Grütters, Chairman of the Ausschusses für Kultur und medien (Committee of Culture and Media) in German Bundestag (Parliament), meet us in her office in the government building in Berlin. A building under threat of terrorist attacks, we learn, and later that day they close it for all visitors.

“We have more employment in the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI) than in other areas in Germany, more than banking for example” Monica Grütters tells us. The CCI are today the second largest industry in Germany, second only after the car manufacturing industry.

The hope is that culture and creative businesses will be a new economic model. “We supported the Cultural Capital to Ruhr”, she says, and explains the transition in Ruhr area from coal and steal mining to creativity and innovation, two of the main themes for Ruhr.2010.

Within the Bundestag, Creative industries has it’s own organization, placed under the finance department. “They have the money and proper instruments and tools”, Monica Grütters explains. The Committee gets regular reports on creative industries and what has been done. Several efforts are done to encourage these new small businesses.

“The Creative industries is young, dynamic and fast growing”. But it is a side-effect, Monica Grütters declares. The main focus is intact, which means Fine Arts are highly supported.

Initiatives like training of banking managers in how creative businesses work has started in each of the sixteen Bundesländer (states) and the formation of transition centers for dancers in Berlin and Karlsruhe where they after an early pension around the age of 30-35 (common for dancers) can get further education, are combined with a special Socialkasse for artists. Once you become a member of the Kasse you are within the social security system in the country. A huge problem for many artists is that they fall out of the social security system.

There seem to be quite a consensus over political parties that these are necessary efforts. And there seem not to be much of opposition from the artistic community. Ulrika Skoog Holmgaard, Councelor of Cultural Affairs at the Embassy of Sweden in Berlin, explains to us that even in these times of financial crisis, cuts within art is limited in Germany. There is in Germany a strong support for art and culture, and as Monica Grütters put it, “We need it because we are a cultural nation”.

The visit in Germany is part of a study being produced on knowledge production and research within creative industries, a work done for the think tank on these issues in Region Västra Götaland.

25 november, 2010

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Lotta Lekvall
Director of Nätverkstan, a Cultural Organisation in Sweden. Nätverkstan provides services …

Cultural and Social Entrepreneurship

On this blog we would like to explore entrepreneurship from a cultural and social point of view. Or rather put forward entrepreneurial initiatives within these two fields.




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