Archive för Music

A day at work…

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.

4 november, 2014

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Future plans for Slum Drummers

Two of the participants in the latest Creative Entrepreneurship Program run by the GoDown Arts Centre in Nairobi come from Slum-Drummers, a community-based organization that wants to share musical talent to engage and encourage young people in the slum areas.

Many of the ten members of Slum-Drummers are themselves former street children and have been trained in music by an Italian artist since 2005.

They perform and work specifically with activities for street children, the drums they use are designed and produced by the group from recycled materials which are also sold for income; plastic containers, cans of air refreshener, cooking pots, broom sticks, plastic pipes and other things become drums, drum sticks, kalimbas.

The organization has been partly supported by the Italian organization Gruppo per le Relazioni Transculturali (GRT) and now they are phasing out the funding. It is part of their strategy, a representative from GRT tells us, to work away from dependency. From January 1 2015 they are supposed to be standing on their own two feet, generate their own income – an enormous challenge for the group.

Slum-Drummers have identified areas where they need more knowledge to be able to sustain themselves: finance literacy, marketing and communication, entrepreneurship, and group identity as the main training needs.

The GRT says it’s necessary to move away from dependency, and either the group make it or not.

The situation is both complex and difficult.

Firstly, the whole question of the situation for street children is multidimensional and difficult. No efforts have, I am told, been done to try to grasp the full situation: the structural level as well as the individual, the community level and the families.

Slum-Drummers and other such projects take the initiative and do make a difference. In a dance-project some years ago, run by dancer and choreographer Isaac Karanj where they encouraged street kids to join dance classes instead of hanging around the dangers of the street, some of the now grown-up former street kids are performing dancers. In the meeting with Slum-Drummers several of the members point out that the music and the group have saved their lives.

The value generated should be unquestionable. It could be counted as public value, social value, and cultural value. It is definitely a value for  the individual. Or if you will, economic value: the children that get the chance to get off the street and sustain a living are a less economic burden for society.

Secondly, The Kenya government shows low, if any, interest in putting sustainable programs and incentives in place. Corruption is still a problem. Where the state doesn’t take responsibility, civil society and international organizations will.

Thirdly, project money are short-term, and the international community is tied with political decisions in their home countries who follow a sort of ”trend”-budgeting. A project can’t go on forever and GRT in this case is quite conscious and responsible about this and phasing out slowly, giving tools, support, and capacity-building.

Forthly, international organizations do struggle with the dependency-situation. At some point the dependency need to be challenged and cut. At least this is the argument.

But it can also appear cynical. Resources are not distributed equally in this world. Having resources also mean having power: power of economic resources as well as decision-making. Structures and possibilities are different.

An Italian NGO in Kenya will survive. A local organization where the international funding stops have very few other alternatives.

2 september, 2014

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Free Lagerhuset!

In the middle of the roaring debate on the future of Lagerhuset, the Warehouse, a building in central Göteborg housing small-scale independent cultural organizations, publishers, and cultural journals, the digital journal Alba and Tidskriftsverkstan i Väst arranged a debate on cultural policy in the House of Literature (located in Lagerhuset).

It couldn’t be better timing.

But let’s start from the beginning. The old warehouse built in beginning of 1900 was for a long time a toll free warehouse for goods stored waiting for taxation to continue into the city. The building was then empty for a long time but in 1999 a group of small-scale publishers moved in together with Nätverkstan, Tidskriftsverkstan i Väst, the journals Ord&Bild, Glänta, and Paletten.

Other small businesses moved in, such as photographers, psychologists, architects, and editors.

In 2013 Frilagret started its cultural space for young people with dialogue processes and an active group of young cultural-interested people setting the agenda, an organization owned by the municipality. In October the same year the House of Literature opened its doors for readings, discussions on literature, space for writing, debates and discussions with authors, another of the municipality owned activities in the building.

And in March 2014 it was clear that the landlord, another part of the municipality, their own real-estate company Higab is chock-raising the rent for those in the house negotiating their contracts. One publishing house is leaving already in June.

The cluster of small-scale cultural organizations and entrepreneurs has taking long to create. And it can be destroyed in a second. No one can afford 30-35% higher rent.

With one hand the municipality is investing in a cultural house, while the other is pulling the rug under the feet of all the cultural organizations already in the building.

Of all the seminars, conferences, public debates and discussions on the cultural and creative city over the last ten years, Higab must have missed them all.

And they missed yesterday’s debate as well. Where are they? Are they at all concerned of the context and society they work in?

See former post here and download the debate article (in Swedish) here: Befria Lagerhuset från Higab.pdf.

1 april, 2014

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The new literature scene in Göteborg

Today the Scene for Literature opened, or the Literature House, as Madeleine Bergmark put it in her opening speech of the inauguration in Lagerhuset (Warehouse).

The road to a new literary scene in Göteborg has been bumpy and particularly around where it should be located. Should a new house be built or is it a better idea to let it rest among already existing initiatives? And if so, with which existing scene? Glances were sent to Norway, where an ambitious new House for Literature in Oslo was opened in 2007.

In 2011 Ingrid Elam, a well-known literature critic in Sweden, got the assignment from the Administration of Culture in the City of Göteborg to investigate the possibilities of establishing a House for Literature in Göteborg.

The reason was that the conditions for literature are changing in a rapid pace and establishing a scene for literature seemed like a proper cultural policy action (also on state level this was done in 2012, a public investigation called Läsandets kultur, Culture of Reading).

Ingrid Elam came to four different suggestions, where two of them was weighing pros and cons of building a new house or building on already existing initiatives with focus on the independent and small-scale literary scene.

Lagerhuset (Warehouse), an old warehouse in central Göteborg right by the canal, for many felt like the natural location for a scene for literature. The building is already part of a vivid small-scale and independent cultural and literary scene housing several cultural journals and small publishing houses; a larger membership-based production space for journals; the Poetry Festival; education; and in the ground floor the scene for young creators, Frilagret. It’s a house that since 1999 host small cultural organizations with focus on cultural journals and literature.

It was also one of Ingrid Elam’s four suggestions, although not the main proposal. The Cultural Committee decided to place the House for Literature in an already existing structure: Lagerhuset. The House is organizationally under the City Library, they got two trial years and 1 million SEK (approximately 116000 euro) per year. Then the idea is that the independent scene in Göteborg takes over.

Read the two investigations here: LasandetsKultur.pdf and here: Litteraturhus i Goteborg.pdf.

2 oktober, 2013

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Typings – a sounding culture journal installation

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

16 mars, 2013

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Music Industry and new business models

This sunny day in Stockholm, people from the music industry gathered at Hotel Rival for the Creators Conference arranged by Swedish Music Information Center, The Swedish Society of Popular Music Composers and Society for Swedish Composers.

The focus was added value in the digital world, the attempt was to lift the question from Intellectual Property Rights to look broader; which way might we go in technical choices, what new business models might we see in the future, and what is the role of the middleman within the music industry? Mark Fischlock, the moderator for the day, early on stated that we seem to have underestimated the digitalization and we have for a long time tried to impose old models in a new system. He got a lot of agreeing nodding from the eight-headed panel, and American Intellectual Property Law Attorney, Bennett Lincoff, was quick in hooking on to this, saying that we need a completely new business model for the music industry that can deal with the challenges imposed by the Internet.

Other things said was things like ”We have to find solutions where money goes directly to the Artist”, ”People are willing to pay if the money goes to the right thing”, ”How do you get a fair deal between the producer and distributor?”, ”There is no interest in pipes, you are interested in the content they are providing”, ”The real problem is the lawyers who seem to be stuck in old structures”, ”Let’s face it: We are all cutting and pasting, we have to be less focused on IP”, ”It’s a difference between free or feels free on the Internet”. Many points were made by legendary manager Peter Jenner (Pink Floyd, The Clash and others), who stressed that the industry needs to change and money go directly to the pockets of the Artists. The distributors, like the record-companies, publishers, just grab too much of the pie and this will, and has to, change. Another important point made was the lack of political interest in digitalization as a whole in Sweden.

A bit of a sad remark is the reminder that the music industry in Sweden has to take a serious look at the equality question. Are we to believe that the talented, brilliant, famous musicians, singers, composers, and directors of organizations in this field are only men? In today’s Stockholm paper Dagens Nyheter an article put the light on the music industry being very male-dominant, while among the theatre institutions things have changed. A few years ago a survey showed theatre institutions to have almost only men as directors, something that now had changed to a 50-50 percent men and women in top positions. For everyone who read today’s paper and then went to the conference, sadly got the situation in the music field confirmed. In each panel of eight people, only one in each was a woman. Maybe the Internet and new models in distribution may have an impact on changing this male domination, letting young talented women find alternative ways?

10 mars, 2010

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Authors

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

Cultural and Social Entrepreneurship

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