Archive för Leadership

Don’t run away!

Within a week, three seminars has taken place in Göteborg and Stockholm with the ambition to bring knowledge and perspectives on cultural policy, cultural and creative industries, and the myth of the creative city.

To begin with the last.

Justin O’Connor, Professor at Monash University in Australia and the authority on cultural and creative industries, did a quick stop in Göteborg on his way to Stockholm to talk about Cultural Economy and Cultural Citizenship. Beyond the Creative City. Göteborg is one of all the European cities being promoted as the ”creative” city and the ”most creative region” in Sweden, eagerly cheered by the American economic’s Professor Richard Florida during his visit in 2006 when he identified Göteborg and Sweden to be a role-model of creativity and innovation.

Interesting since at the same time Göteborg is one of the most segregated cities in Europe, something that seemed to have slipped away from the Professor’s research.

Justin O’Connor said three things to be important:

1) Reinstall the value of art and culture and move away from ”creativity”,

2) Don’t run away from economics! Culture is part of the economy. Don’t leave it for others to handle and do not escape by saying economy is only for Neo-liberalists, and

3) The public space is for all. It’s time to reinstall Cultural Citizenship.

Cultural and Creative industries was in focus in Stockholm when Professors Justin O’Connor and Birgit Mandel, from Hildesheim University in Germany, discussed CCI – and beyond. Are we seeing the end of CCI? Or is it time for a revived understanding of the concept? Where are the artists in the discussion of CCI?

And the message was clear: Drop ”creativity”. This has only messed up the discussion. Go back to cultural economy. Discuss and define economy from the perspective of the arts and culture.

And today, lastly, a day with focus on cultural policy on the regional level of Region Västra Götaland tossing and turning on Whose Culture? Whose Plans? Whose Money? The seminar ended with politicians answering questions on what they think is the most important cultural policy question that they will bring to this year’s election. Participation, inclusive culture, culture to children and youngsters, integration was some of the answers.

The most important words, though, were said by Poetry Slam Winner Nino Mick, who summarized hen’s impressions during the day in a poetic reading that went straight into the heart.

The Göteborg event with Justin O’Connor is found here.

The invitation to the seminar in Stockholm: KN_Seminarieinbjudan_pdf.

The Cultural Policy day here.

5 maj, 2014

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Open your minds • GoDown 10 years

When Judy Ogana takes the floor to welcome us all, the warmth and pride shines in her face. In the audience are friends, colleagues and partners from East Africa and abroad gathered to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the GoDown Arts Centre in Nairobi together with her, Joy Mboya, and the rest of the staff.

The story of the Godown is impressive, and as Joy Mboya takes us through the vision, steps, ideas, persistence, you realize that this is what running a cultural organization is about: the awareness of the context and society you are part of and your role in it; the dedication for building a strong, vivid, interesting cultural scene; empowerment with capacity-building on the grass-root level; participation, sharing, and networking.

Joy Mboya lifts a few aspects that has been especially important in the GoDown success, which she describes as ”some steps of victory and some steps of challenges”:

1. Getting a space; a multidisciplinary center for the local art and cultural scene in the local community

2. The regional linkages with colleagues in East Africa

3. The strategic plan 2005-2007 as a tool which also set the aim to create a public, innovative, dynamic, and vibrant space

4. Training and development, mobility, exchange, and exposure

5. A strong community orientation

6. Being a mirror of society. The post-election violence in 2007 was a starting-point where the exhibition Kenya Burnings was important. The need for artists to look back and reflect on what’s happening in society.

7. Sustainability and capacity-building focus on artist livelihood

8. Discourse and research

9. The role of cultural spaces in urban living

10. The Creative Entrepreneurship Programme

After the celebrations and the outline of the GoDown Arts Centre’s history and important steps, the East Africa Arts Summit continued discussions with focus on how networking, sharing knowledge, and building a strong art and cultural scene on a regional level could be enhanced.

Artists shown in the photos: Visual artist Mary Ogembo, visual artist Michael Soi, visual artist Patrick Mukabi, the xyz puppetry satire show, musician Makadem, singer Neema.

Nätverkstan and the GoDown Arts Center have been cooperating on capacity-building since 2009, support has been mainly from the Swedish Institute Creative Force programme.

23 november, 2013

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Kerstin Brunnberg at Kulturverkstan

”Throw out the management books and read novels instead!”

Kerstin Brunnberg has a long list of references. She is now Chair of Swedish Art Council, and has a long career behind her as journalist and head of several of the large newspapers, as well as radio and TV.

She is invited to the education Kulturverkstan to talk about art, culture, the role of art in society, and leadership.

Being a leader of cultural institutions and organisations means to work with people, and the best place for learning of people is in novels. Read a lot, is a message.

Reading also helps writing. It’s necessary for any project manager to be able to describe its work in plans and project applications. Proposals written with passion, personal tone and genuin interest do have a larger chance to come through than buzzwords with no content. Might sound evident, but it’s easy to fall into the buzzword trap.

Flexibility, complexity, hard work, and to always stand up for the freedom of expression are leading words for this soft-strong lady.

For any project manager within art and culture, this should be on your bed-side to read: The law of freedom of the press.

Follow Nätverkstan at Vine, where you find a clip from the lecture.

 

3 maj, 2013

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Leadership experiences: Kristin Skogen Lund

Heading towards the ”L” building for our meeting with Kristin Skogen Lund, Head of Telenor Nordic Operations, we walk through the colourful pillars by French artist Daniel Buren and looking up on the opposite house facade, we can read the neon-lit statements by the American artist Jenny Holzer.

It gives an interesting framework for our meeting.

Mobile operations company Telenor’s head office in Fornebu outside Oslo was built in 2002 and hosts around 6000 employees. An integral part of the work environment is the presence of art and culture, the website states, and Telenor has a collection of around 700 art pieces from contemporary artists.

Kristin Skogen Lund has been selected Norway’s most powerful woman by Kapital magazine. She has been head of the newspaper Aftenposten and, she is on several boards among them Det Norske Kammarorkester.

We are curious of her leadership experiences and what she would say would be most important content in a leadership development programme for culture. Nätverkstan is developing a leadership programme specifically for culture; well-known artistic director Sune Nordgren is Chair of the interim board for the project. Our ambition is to learn from different leadership areas, also the perspective from the different Nordic countries.

”The one who has the overview rarely has the deep insight. And the one with deep insight has rarely an overview.”

The dilemma is of course crucial if you are the Head of a large company such as Telenor, but is also a question for smaller organizations. How do you balance having an overview of the organization with deep and specific knowledge of the field you are in? At what size of organization do you loose the specific insight as a leader?

”Telenor is a large company that has a strict hierarchic structure, is goal oriented and work with goal hierarchies. This doesn’t work in culture. Instead it’s often vision oriented. The questions need also be asked: Who are we work for? Who is the public to be reached by our vision?”

A competence for a leader of a cultural institution we discuss is the ”translation competence”; the skill of being able to explain and talk of the artistic work with people outside of the institution. Any cultural institution needs to build relationships and cooperation with people from different areas from politics to business to other art fields. The skill of engaging and explaining the work for people with no knowledge, perhaps not even interest, is important.

A leadership programme should encompass the possibility of self-reflection and getting out of your comfort zone. Having courage, being able to analyze complex situations and build concrete actions, engage in your ideas, and knowing your own limits and possibilities are skills Kristin Skogen Lund stresses as important.

Read more on cultural leadership here.

 

 

1 februari, 2012

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Hubs in London

”When you write creativity, what do you mean? Break it down. Unpack it.”

Adrian de la Court and Sian Prime, MA Cultural and Creative Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths University of London, hovers around the class, enthusiastically supporting the discussions and work that is being developed in the groups. And then the difficult questions to challenge the students to go deeper in their understanding, reveal a bit more, go to the bottom of all those words so easily used.

We, eight people from the GoDown Arts Center in Nairobi together with myself, have joined one of the classes in Cultural and Creative Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths. The task is to map each individual’s strengths and assets, and come to a conclusion of the group assets. Find the deficit. Map the geographical area you are in. What assets are there around you? What possibilities does it reveal?

The work is done with paper, colored pens, lego-pieces, straws, rubberbands – anything that can help you illustrate your ideas. Envision them. The energy in the room is on top.

Later the same day we meet John Newbigin, Chair of Creative England, and of many things from his background the Political Advisor designing the work on creative industries in UK.

A few lessons from his experience was the following:

1) It’s all about sharing, and it’s amazing what you can achieve if you are not interested in taking credit for it.

2) There are moments in leadership where new ideas are put forward that no-one knows what they will lead to. To get people on board you might have to ”bullshit” a little. Do it with brilliance. Everyone knows how it works. If you are wrong, you can work that out later.

3) Don’t underestimate the formal meetings even in an informal setting. We sometimes assume people we work with know more than they actually do. Be careful. It’s better to say things twice than not say it at all. It shows openness.

4) Chairing meetings is an important task. Create an opportunity for people to speak their mind. Listen even if you are loosing the argument. Shared knowledge gives better results.

The meeting was held at the Hub Westminister, in itself an interesting place for developing ideas around social entrepreneurship.

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20 oktober, 2011

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Cultural leadership

In economic downturns, cultural is often the area easy to cut. Compared to health and care, art and culture is often seen as something extra. Still we turn to poetry or music, theatre or dance to help us feel hope, dreams, inspiration, or help us through mourning and grief in hard times. Art is often the glue, the cement, that hold people together.

To find ways for art and culture to develop and better sustain itself is a mission of Nätverkstan. A society with different voices and artistic expressions and possibilities to practice art is a rich one.

Leadership is just one of all topics to work with in culture, but an interesting one. In Sweden cultural leadership is rarely spoken of, yet a new more holistic view on leadership is needed.

For several years a Cultural Leadership Award was run by Nesta in UK that had this view. It was run by lottery money bud had to close down four years ago. The Cultural Leadership Programme at Arts Council has continued in the same spirit with important training possibilities for leaders in culture. But also this was closed down as late as in March this year due to the large economic cuts in the UK economy.

To make sure we have an interesting cultural life and artistic scene in Europe, investments in the field are necessary. A lot is needed, from economic conditions that make it possible to live and work as an artist, as well as development possibilities as an artist or leader of cultural institutions and organizations. For an EU believing culture is the future, this needs to be on the agenda.

Interesting reports have been written of these initiatives, read for instant ”The Cultural Leadership Reader” by Sue Kay and Katie Venner. Read more posts on Cultural Leadership here. Also visit the Clore programme.

22 augusti, 2011

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Future cultural leadership?

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.

Download invitation here (in Swedish): seminarleadership.pdf. Read more related posts here and here.

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1 juni, 2011

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Framtidens kulturutviklere • Oslo

The well-known Italian economist Pier Luigi Sacco did something interesting when he visited Sweden last November, invited by Kulturmiljö Halland. He put two different ranking tables next to each other; one ranking the level of innovation in a country, the other active participation in amateur artistic activities.

When these two tables came next to each other, a relationship between the two could be discovered. It looked like there might be a correlation between cultural participation and capacity of innovation in a country. This can’t, according to Pier Luigi Sacco, be a coincidence.

For Sweden, it’s great news. Sweden lies in top of both tables. If Sacco’s argument is right, it looks like there is a connection between the local municipality-led music schools for all children, something you find in almost all Swedish communities, and the level of innovation in the country.

Listening to the presentations at the conference Kompetensebehov for framtidens kulturutviklere (my translation: Competence need for future cultural developers), these correlations come to mind. I have together with around ninety developers, strategists, civil servants and practitioners within culture come to Gamle Logen in Oslo to listen to and discuss the competence need for future cultural developers.

The main focus of the conference, financed and organized by Norsk Kulturforum and Nordisk Ministerråd, is children and youngsters and how culture is a pedagogical tool in schools. In Sweden and Norway culture in schools have a specific focus in cultural policy; in Sweden through what is called Skapande skola, and in Norway through Den kulturelle skolesecken. In Finland basic arteducation in schools is the norm and stated in the law since 1999.

Projects like Fargespill in Bergen (Norway), Den mangfoldige scenen in Oslo (Norway), and work in Sunnadalsskolan and Marinmuseum in Karlskrona (Sweden) are all examples of how working with culture as a pedagogic tool in schools can be done in a successful way.

The three projects are set in areas with high level of immigrant inhabitants and one message of the conference is that here lays an unseen competence and potential. The Nordic countries need to look at future competencies in new ways. The key factors of success the three projects address have been an inclusive approach to all children, a respectful attitude, and to see all individuals as resources. This will, then following Pier Luigi Sacco’s thought, also have effects on innovation.

Download the program of the conference here: forelobig-program_110511.pdf and the speakers here: presentasjon-av-foredragsholderne-med-konferansebilde.pdf.

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12 maj, 2011

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Structure vs individual

Over a twenty-years period, the portion of permanent hired ensembles on the theaters in Sweden has declined drastically. Actresses and actors are to very high degree freelancers. In Sweden there are about 2300 actresses and actors, ninety percent are freelancers, ten percent has permanent positions.

On Stockhom Stadsteater (Stockholm City Theatre) the portion of people with permanent jobs have declined from 70 to 20 percent over the twenty-year period, at the same time as the number of plays performed has risen. Benny Fredriksson, the Director of Stockholm Stadsteater, has been seen as the leader of the modern theater in his efficiency, number of plays performed, and not the least, getting audience to come.

The crack in the glamour started yesterday, when the actor Ulf Friberg wrote in a big article in the daily Dagens-Nyheter about the conditions for actors and actresses at Stockholm Stadsteater. He means that the fact that so many are freelancers creates a quiet culture, critics are swallowed in fear you will not get the next job. Mr Fredriksson has drawn the efficiency too far, is his point.

The ones standing with the cap in their hands are the ones creating the content, of without every theater is only an empty shell: The actresses and actors.

We have seen it before. Some years ago a debate roared in Sweden due to the fact that one of the biggest museums in Sweden, Moderna Museet (Modern Museum), didn’t pay the visual artists for the time to put together a new exhibition for the museum. Everyone else was paid. The Director, administrators, guides, and the caretakers. But not the artist. They should be happy to be able to have an exhibition at all at such a prestigious museum. But you can’t pay rent with honour.

It’s interesting in times when the mantra from local authorities to the state, from business life and bureaucrats, even among ourselves within cultural life is: Artists have to know how to price themselves and their work!

For the theater it would be fine if the hourly payment for freelancers covered costs for development, reading and rehearsal. It doesn’t. Instead different competence-programs are started, all with the aim of teaching artists to become better at selling themselves.

When in fact, the present crisis of the theater has structural reasons. It can not be blamed on or solved by individuals. No matter how many entrepreneurial programs we set up.

2 mars, 2011

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Irritated Material

Surrounded by many of the larger banks in the financial district in London, you find the new non-profit contemporary Art exhibition centre Raven Row. It’s quite anonymous; you easily walk by the low building with the white front, but finding it is rewarding. While the banks and financiers are busy dealing with the recession and building trust, the current exhibition at Raven Row is dealing with other processes in society; the disobedience, subversive cultural ideas, the Art that is often on the edge of what is accepted by society.

”A history of irritated material” is curated by Danish curator Lars Bang Larsen, who explains the title as referring to the relation between Art, and social and psychological reality. Video clips of protest marches, freedom fighters, witness stories, and trials are shown in a set of TVs, works of the New York based Group Material is exhibited together with Artists like Swedish Sture Johannesson. His famous poster from 1968 of the naked woman with a hash-pipe in her hand (Hash Girl) is significant for the exhibition. The poster was done for Lund Art Exhibition Hall (Southern Sweden), but the exhibition was never shown. It was accused of being drug romantic and Sture Johannesson himself stole his controversial posters that made politicians see red from the exhibition hall. The Director at the time, Folke Edwards, was accused of being sex and drug romantic just by showing this work of the well-known Artist. It all ended with the Director leaving his job just after a short time on the post.

Perhaps less subversive, but definitely not mainstream were two concerts at Union Chapel the previous night. Two Swedish bands played in the church, built in 1876 to 1877, from 1991 used as a venue for cultural events (combined with worship, baptism, weddings). The two-people-band The Tiny, and then First Aid Kit, two young women of 17 and 19 years old, inspired by the hippie and country movement of the 70s combined with new sound. Both wonderful bands that manage to form Artistic talent into their own music, their own thing. Funny we have to go to London to see them.

A walk by Tate Modern also leaves traces. The Polish contemporary Artist Miroslaw Balka and his piece ”How it is” is both overwhelming and scary. The work is a gigantic container placed in the big open hall at Tate. Walking around the container you feel small, yes, tiny, and in one short-end you enter at a large ramp and walk towards the darkness inside. A chill along the spine as scary film-clips of Holocaust where people in masses walked in to uncertainty come to mind, yet when we are walking we are safe. We know that, but still…What will we meet inside? The exhibition keeps itching and irritating the mind the rest of the day.

And among these visits, we do study visits to discuss social entrepreneurship with Ian Baker at School for Social Entrepreneurs, cultural leadership with Venu Dhupa and Nicola Turner, and the development of the workshop ”The Art of living of Art” together with Sian Prime.

Read this text by Lars Bang Larsen on social liability. Some links in relation to School for Social Entrepreneurs are found here, here and for reports and evaluations here. Most photos are taken by Helena Persson, a few with Iphone.

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7 mars, 2010

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”At lede kunstnere m.m” • ”Leading Artists etc”

In the new book ”At lede kunstnere mm”, twelve Scandinavian cultural leaders are interviewed in their roles as leaders. Uwe Bødewadt, Museum- and Cultural Director of Det Kongelige Bibliotek (The Royal Library) in Copenhagen (Denmark) has led the interviews together with psychologist Anders Risling on how it is to lead larger Artistic and cultural organizations. Uwe Bødewadt puts forward a row of questions in the beginning such as: Can you at all lead Artists? What happens when different cultures meet intimately, argue and create conflicts? Is it possible to find another bottom line than profit maximization? How do you act as a leader within a room of political influence, constant media attention and a deceitful audience?

The twelve leaders reflect in a very personal way on their thoughts and experiences as leaders of larger cultural institutions. Well-known people such as Museum Director Sune Nordgren, Theatre Director Susanne Osten, Film Director Lone Scherfig, Rector Poul Nesgaard and more.

The book is in Danish and can be found here.

11 november, 2009

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The Legacy of Mourning

Venu Dhupa, Jane Wildgoose and the Memorial Library

Jane Wildgoose’s home is to the brim filled with collected things of different sorts. A horse cranium is placed on a shelf together with Indian statuettes, a prisma of glass, medical pots and a small replica of the coffin of Lord Nelson. Over it all, a stuffed raven enthrones together with a crocodile. All rooms in her typical English terraced house groan with memories.

”I have been thinking a lot about the history of mourning and in which way things can create support and comfort. Twenty years ago people didn’t want to speak about this, but now lots of people come here, some in mourning clothes.”

She started building her Mourning Library eight years ago, the collection is still growing. Starting point was that she wanted to use hair in her Artistic work, and she discovered how many memories the human material was carrying. Memory and death have since been her main theme. It’s very Victorian, which gives an extra dimension: The societal idea about death and sorrow that is now lost.

Jane Wildgoose has, Venu Dhupa says, in a very conscious way showed the power of pedagogic; on how you can work with existential issues with a planned working method. That’s why she five years ago could convince National Endowment of Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta) to put in project support in the Wildgoose Memorial Library. This is a difficult issue, Venu Dhupa says:

”You always need to create a structure, but it doesn’t have to be a scientific one. It might as well be a structure that is created as you go, by following your heart. We are not aiming for the results, but what is happening during the process.”

img_0074The Wildgoose Memorial Library was the start to continue the reflection of how you create creative environments that can handle risk and uncertainty. That is why Venu Dhupa, on the assignment of British Council, created a competence development course on issues like how you deal with risk and create an environment that can handle uncertainty. How do you deal with risk in a responsible way? How do you adjust to different – sometimes extremely difficult – circumstances?

”It is now, today, we are creating the inhabitants of tomorrow. And in the contemporary society you have to be able to deal with a duality, and not rarely also sorrow and sentimentality, and still, in the 21st century these are taboo issues in society.”

The secret, Venu Dhupa continues, behind creating a creative working climate and creative leadership is called ”mixed groups”. The people in India know this best! Why is someone in London telling what is best in China?

”I am working with small teams all around the world and send their results back home. In that way we have created a real global working method. I am working with six different groups in six countries. Each group consists of a large amount of different nationalities. I say it again: Think outside the box!”

After working with multicultural issues for over ten years, Venu Dhupa has a clear picture of what is needed to do to: From a bottom-up perspective achieve a heterogenic society that consists of many voices.

”We treat the ethnical groups like consumers, not like creators. The measurement is consumption! But what happens if we are serious with everyone’s possibility to create on equal terms?”

We don’t give our politicians time enough to reflect on these issues, she says, and therefore we get the response from politicians that we deserve.

”We don’t get intelligent answers from our political sausage machine! George Bush (who was) the busiest man of the world played golf 95 days out of his first year as president!”

The text is written by Ylva Gustafsson, secretary at Region Västra Götaland. The visit in London on March 3–6, 2009, was part of a study visit by politicians and civil servants from Region Västra Götaland. Nätverkstan was a connecting partner for the Region on this visit. Related blogpost is on Other Art and other practices and Bangalore.

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17 april, 2009

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Cultural Leadership

”Running cultural institutions and cultural projects of tomorrow into the 21st century will put new demands on leaders. Competencies as flexibility, risk taking, courage, intercultural awareness and international outlook are increasing in importance for leaders in organisations.”

Eight leaders of important cultural organisations and institutions in Sweden gathered in a think tank last November to discuss leadership omslag_2within Art and culture and the idea of a Cultural Leadership Award in Sweden. The results are put forward by Nätverkstan in the newly published report on cultural leadership: ”To lead Art into the Future. An idea to develop leadership within culture” (in Swedish ”Att leda konsten in i framtiden. Om en idé för utveckling av ledarskap i kulturlivet.”).

Leadership within the field of Art and culture is an ignored area, and possibilities are few for development. Management-courses are many, as well as courses in laws and regulations, staff management, economy and likewise. But how do you develop the leadership role? This has to do with personal skills as well as a continuous interest in reflecting on experiences. The model for the idea put forward in the report is from UK; the successful ”Cultural Leadership Awards” run by Venu Dhupa, which at the time was put up by Nesta. The award was dedicated to exceptional leaders within Art, technology and science and showed to be an innovative way of developing leadership. As Venu Dhupa says ”an investment in leadership is necessary for the future of cultural life”.

Leading Art and cultural institutions and projects is difficult and put specific demands on leadership. Again you are expected to be an all-area-Artist. And there are, argued by people in the field and Art Management researchers, specific conditions in the cultural field you have to handle. The main goal is rarely profitability, but rather human, Artistic, social or aesthetic goals. It is therefore more difficult to show when goals are achieved. It’s easy to put economic figures on paper, but how do you measure social or aesthetic goals? For many working in the field, money is not the main goal. This means motivation, drive and belief in higher values are important factors for anyone working in the field and a factor when motivating staff. It is a production-driven field, research shows, and not consumer-driven as in so many other areas. Another factor is that Art production doesn’t follow the logic of competition and is often unprofitable. All these factors put demands on the leader, who also has to adjust to a changing society where flexibility, risk taking, resilience and resourcefulness are necessary personal skills. Interestingly the same skills were put forward in an article in the Hindu, in October last year, when discussing necessary skills when working in the Indian context. Read a short version here.

The report was written by Karin Dalborg, Manager of Nätverkstan’s training programme Kulturverkstan, and Lotta Lekvall, Director at Nätverkstan. Download the report (in Swedish, a translation is hopefully published soon)  kulturledarskap2009. You can have a look at the model for the Swedish Cultural Leadership Awards on the attached images, just double-click to make them larger.

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13 april, 2009

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The Cultural Economy

”The application forms for European Structural Funds, regional development funds and local authority funds demand a justification for our activity in a language better suited to the creation of a business park, requiring us to present art not as an intrinsic cultural expression but as a measurement of economic activity”.

Clymene Christoforou writes the reflection in the new volume of The Cultures and Globalization series, The Cultural Economy. She is director of ISIS Art, a visual arts organisation in the North of England, and ends her short comment with ”(–) I wonder what new languages we will need to learn to create a space for art in the future”.

In the second volume of the series the editors Helmut Anheier and Yudhishthir Raj Isar is addressing cultural economy and have asked people from mainly academia but also practitioners, up comers and artists, to address a set of critical questions following the topic. The result is over six hundred pages with twenty-eight contributions from different perspectives and contexts together with an ambitious part of ”Indicator suites” with figures in different diagrams. In the very beginning Stuart Cunninghan, John Banks and Jason Potts line out four models of the relation of culture and the economy in the chapter ”Cultural Economy: The shape of the field”. The welfare model, the competitive model, the growth model, and the innovation model suggest an interesting analytical framework for anyone who would like to try to understand the area of art, creative economy, cultural economy, creativity, innovation and the relation with the economy as a whole.

How does cultural economy relate to the rest of the economy? Is it at all discussed outside the cultural field? Last weekend world leaders from the twenty most significant economies in the world met in Washington to discuss the financial crises. The Swedish journalist Erik Ohlsson noted in his article in the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter that the outcome of the meeting was perhaps not so thrilling, but still it was historical. It showed the beginning of a new era, where the western society countries have to move aside and give place to their former colonies, now countries with growing economies. Perhaps culture could have a more significant place in this new economic order?

The series is published by Sage Publications. Find the first volume of The Cultures and Globalization series Conflicts and Tensions at Civil Society Center at UCLA or at Sage Publications.

Washington Post look on the economic development in the world and write about the outcome of the G20 meeting in Washington last weekend here.

19 november, 2008

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Bangalore, India. Day 2.

Contradictions. It’s the word mostly used to describe India to us. Contradictions, complexity and fast transition. To work in such a context you need to be flexible, an article in the daily newspaper The Hindu (Oct, 29) states. To be successful in your career you need among a number things; to step out of your comfort zone, build an open-minded and proactive attitude, always look to experiment with new work and be willing to take risks. For the curios reader, Nätverkstan did a study on the topic of leadship within cultural life in Sweden, where these competencies were found as important for future leaders (in Swedish: ledarskap.pdf). The study was done in 2007, in cooperation with the Cultural Leadership Award, set up by the British organisation Nesta. The experience from the Award states that a new type of leadership training is needed to meet changes and new demand – such as flexibility, risktaking, international outlook, resourcefulness and reflection.

”The beauty of collaboration is that it’s not about rationalising. You don’t have to speak so much, just do it”. Artistic Director of Attakkalari, Jayachandran Palazhy, meet us at his office, after giving us a glimpse of their attakkalari.jpgattakkalari2.jpgnew production, a work-in-progress. The dance company mixes research, dance, theatre, music, digitalisation, philosophy, to find new expressions in performing arts. As he says: ”New thinking is the key in this new paradigm shift”.

30 oktober, 2008

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Web, technique and alternative thinking

Two days after the visit in the Apple store in Colorado to get help with a broken computer-battery, we got an e-mail in the inbox asking if we were happy with the service we got. A link to a website was provided, which in a few seconds directed us to a fill-in form on the web, where we easily could write down our opinion and send it back. As a customer you felt they were very interested in your opinion, in our case even though we never bought anything. We got the battery for free.

When Barack Obama, the Democratic Presidential Candidate, set together his campaign organization, it’s said he wanted it to be different than traditional ones. He wanted the organization to be ”buttoned up like a business” combined with a voter-friendly grass-root attitude. A look at the website of Barack Obama shows that you can contact him, or the campaign organization, through e-mail, Facebook, Linkedin, Myspace, Flickr, BlackPlanet, Twister and other web networks. One of the factors behind the success of Obama’s campaign so far, is said to be his openness to critique and direct feedback from people on the street, from participants on convents to colleagues at his office. The tool for public use is an interactive and informative website where access to the candidate never appears to be far away. You get the feeling he is actually interested in your opinion.

Three components seem to be essential in an innovative approach, no matter if you run a cultural organisation, a business or build a campaign organization for President. Three entities that combined have the potential of creating new things: The latest in technical solutions and the World Wide Web; An open and low-hierarchical top-bottom organizational structure; and a creative working atmosphere.

At Pixar Animation Studios, the high profile technical solutions and constant pushing of new mathematical solutions for animated moves on the screen, combined with a continuously challenged creativity and open atmosphere, is said to be the key factors for success. At Namac, a small art and media organisation in San Francisco, the new website is built according to the newest ideas of interactivity. This is hoped to better involve members between meetings and to get direct feedback on their activities.

The working atmosphere and low levels between top and bottom is put forward by businesses like IDEO and Pixar Animation Studios. A working atmosphere of being casual, but deadly serious about quality and getting the work done is something many refer to as a typical Silicon Valley attitude. And you find it in many of the most innovative companies in US today. Apple started in Silicon Valley, the idea of Google was formed at Stanford University in the same area and the Design firm IDEO was founded there. It’s not suprising that Barack Obama showed such an interest in Google and in November 2007 decided to unveil his innovation agenda at one of their offices. The Campaign organization that he runs is most certainly inspired by the Silicon Valley attitude. It’s said to be open for initiatives, relatively casual, and deadly serious about quality and getting the work done on deadline.

Read about Barack Obama’s Campaign Organization in Rolling Stone, issue July 10-24, 2008.
Read about our study visits to Pixar Animation Studios, IDEO and Namac on this website.
Apple at Wikipedia and Google at Wikipedia.

12 juli, 2008

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Local meets global

In Sånga-Säby, a small village on the countryside outside Stockholm, around eighty participants from cultural life gathered to discuss local initiatives meeting global influences. Two full and intense days on May 20-21 with experiences of how to make change happen, the challenges of renewal, living the network, leadership and plenty of examples of local intiatives. One of the glimmering moments were when Rasoul Nejadmehr, Multicultural Consultant from the Region of Västra Götaland, told a good-night story. It was the real story of his life as a nomad, born somewhere in the borders around Afghanistan to his today life in Sweden. ”The grass is always greener somewhere else”, he said when reflecting on his childhood. A nomad is always looking for greener grass and a better spot. It’s always somewhere else, it’s always changing. A woman in the audience made the reflection that in the Swedish farming land, you stick with your land and it’s a sign of discontent or envy to look for where the ”grass is greener”. Two opposite perspectives on life.

Global influences came from organisations like Raqs Media Collective and Sarai from New Dehli, British Council in London and Labforculture in Amsterdam. We listened to the experiences of Intercult and Swedish Travelling Exhibitions. The Artist Jörgen Svensson talked about his project Public Safety and the artistic work he did in Stavanger, the Cultural Capital of 2008. The work in Stavanger includes a website for confessions, found at www.skriftestol.se.

Have a look at the programme: sanga-saby_programme.pdf. The seminar was arranged by The Foundation for the Future of Culture.

Nätverkstan arranged last year a conference in cooperation with the network Encatc under the topic ”On Entrepreneurship and Education in Cultural Life” which very well relate to the same topic as this one. The documentation is possible to download here or from Encatc or Nätverkstan webpages. Nätverkstans contribution to this seminar is found in the following pdf culturalleader08.pdf.

22 maj, 2008

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

Cultural and Social Entrepreneurship

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