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Experimental theatre in Brno

When Theatre Goose on a String started in 1968 it played an important role in the resistance movement against communism in what then was Czechoslovakia. By sneaking in one or two words of the revolution into the performances on stage, the audience and the actors came to play different roles in strengthening the struggle in the real life drama.

Society has changed dramatically since then. Czechoslovakia has become Czech Republic and Slovakia. Communism has ended. The theatre has had to find its role in this new context. And more changes are to wait.

The platform Centre for Experimental Theatre consists of three theatre stages: Theatre Goose on a string, Theatre On the table, and HaDivadlo. They play together around 600 performances (theatre plays, events, festivals, readings) per year for full houses. Of the budget of 2 million euros per year, two thirds (2/3) comes from the city of Brno, the rest is through other income sources such as ticket sales, tours, projects. Sponsoring is zero.

They seem to be one of the few theatre’s of today having full capacity ensembles, with around 150 actors full-time employed. But changes are expected.

In Prague, changes have already happened. The formation of the theatre had to change from a benefit organisation (and thereby owned by the city) to a contracted one. This means that funding is not secured any more and every five years they have to compete with other theatres to get the grants. This has also meant that the actors have lost their jobs to become contractors.

The Centre for Experimental Theatre see the same development in Brno around the corner, and “there is no way to prepare for this”, as our guide Ondrej Navratil tells us. Conversation with the municipality is going on, as so many other cultural organizations they struggle with describing their value and to explain for the event- and tourist focused politicians, that an independent theatre is important.

But the show must go on. In the evening Amadeus, based on the film by the same name by Milos Forman (1984) is on stage. Amadeus’ hysterical laughter fills the auditorium as he enters the stage. He runs it, stops suddenly, looks around over a salon packed with people, and runs laughing out as the play starts. Another full house at the theatre.

The study visit was part of the 22nd Encatc Conference in Brno, Czech Republic, on 17–19 of September 2014.

 

21 september, 2014

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Capacity building from the grassroots

Is there a need for a joint Capacity Building program within Art and Entrepreneurship on the regional level in East Africa, driven and run by the cultural field? If so, what could a program look like?

Those have been questions discussed on the second meeting with representatives from cultural organizations as well as artists from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda. The meeting in Kampala on March 6–9, included several large questions.

What kind of competence building is needed among artists and cultural organizations? Is the perspective of livelihood a useful one? What are points of similarities in the context and cultural scene in the different countries, and what are the differences?

Three intense conference-days, with visits of cultural organizations in Kampala, ended in the conclusion that this process, discussion, and concrete ideas need to continue.

Three concrete points already happening is:

1) the GoDown Arts Centre start a term 1 course in Creative Entrepreneurship in May.

2) it might be possible to hold a facilitators’ course and training-for-trainers with regional partners sometime between May and August,

3) another meeting on the East Africa level will be held, probably in August, this time hosted by either Tanzania or Rwanda and with local artists invited.

On the meeting in Uganda artists within performing arts, writing, and visual art was participating, as well as representatives from Bayimba CulturaFoundation (Uganda), Femrite (Uganda), 32°East (Uganda), Autumn Ventures Africa (Uganda), MUDA (Tanzania), Ishyo Arts Centre (Rwanda).

The meeting is part of the project ”East Africa Capacity Building Program for Creative Entrepreneurs and Artists” funded mainly by the Swedish Institute and is a cooperation between GoDown Arts Centre (Kenya) and Nätverkstan (Sweden).

10 mars, 2014

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Art glances from Seville

It takes a bit of driving around to find Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemoráneo, (CAAC) which is a bit strange since it is an old monastery and a quite specific place. It’s situated in the centre of Seville, but still outside. As the gallerist Julio Criado put it during our visit in his gallery later the same day: It’s actually very central but often perceived as being outside of the city.

It’s on the other side of the river Guadalquivir and in the very same area that 1992 hosted the Universal Exposition of Seville (Expo ’92), an Expo of 215 hectares land and with 41 million visitors between April to October. The signs left now are – what seems for us as we drive around looking for the monastery – empty buildings and fenced areas. And behind white steel rods around the monastery and its gardens, we finally find it.

CAAC opened in 1998 in Monasterio de Santa María de las Cuevas with the aim of being a place devoted for Andalusian contemporary art. Art tradition in Seville, we are told, is that many artists are painters and within the Baroque tradition. The 80s is described as an interesting period in Seville, where the art scene (at least this is one way of understanding this period) hooked on to the era and buzz around film-maker Pedro Almodóvar and his often both provocative and controversial films on topics around sex and violence, religion and people in the margins of society. CAAC is aiming to put such an art discussion back on the agenda.

Walking around the garden, you see this ambition in the interesting, humouristic, and yet serious art interventions placed around the precincts. The Bus stop by Pedro Mora, Alicia by Cristina Lucas, and As a monument to the Artist by Curro Gonzales, are among some of them; the last one being an ironic commentary on the controversy around artists since Romanticism – and a very current such. In the temporary exhibition inside, Chilean performance artist Lotty Rosenfeld, stands out.

Luisa Espino, Coordinator of Exhibitions, tells us about the ambitious program, with temporary and permanent exhibitions, educational programs, music and art in the garden, seminars and conferences, and not least the publications 11 to 21 on the themes of the conferences and exhibitions.

Unfortunately CAAC has seen severe cuts in funding due to the Spanish economic situation that makes it difficult to keep the high ambition. The publications have, as a consequence, been closed down. For now, that is. The hopes are to be able to pick it up again. But the cuts are a bit like stepping back in time. A bit like being back on square one where it all started.

Gallerist and owner of the Gallery Alarconcridao, Julio Criado, talks about the art situation from another perspective.

Interestingly, the gallery is just one street from the famous bull arena in central Seville, Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza. Cultural heritage right next door to the new upcoming artists. Julio Criado sees an art market in change, where you have to find other ways than the traditional to find the buyers and the market. Also the artistic scene is changing, where a fairly traditional art education is not educating the most interesting artists. Instead he finds the most interesting work done by artists educated within other disciplines.

The first photo: Alicia by Cristina Lucas. The second: As a monument to the Artist by Curro Gonzales. Listen to the fanfare in the last piece here: artist fanfare. The last piece is the Bus Stop by Pedro Mora.

”We” in this blog are a group of five educators, consultants, and actor within art, entrepreneurship, art management from Germany, Austria, UK and Sweden, who formed a small think tank a few years ago to meet once a year and exchange experiences and ideas. This year a smaller group of three of us met in Seville on July 12–16. During the meetings we discuss, have workshops, exchange ideas, meet people within arts and culture, and just enjoy ourselves. 

18 juli, 2013

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Hidden voices

1.

It’s almost unbearable to read.

Belarus writer Svetlana Aleksijevitj’s book with Swedish title Kriget har inget kvinnligt ansikte (The war doesn’t have a female face, my translation) is a remarkable project that took her years to finish. She has interviewed women all around Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, has loads of cassette tapes where these now elderly women tell their horrifying stories of joining the army at ages 16–18 years and the hardships and terrifying work as snipers, nurses, pilots, military seargents, soldiers, engineers, and as members of the partisans and resistance movement.

Women’s role in the military during the Second World War in Russia has never been highlighted. They continued their life after the war, bearing their sorrows, trying to forget while the victory of the war has been contributed men. Aleksijevitj wants to let them be heard, wants to tell their stories, the choices they had to make, their everyday struggles in the war, in life, as daughters, wives, mothers, and soldiers.

At points I have to put it aside, but then I pick it up again. I’m obliged to listen to these women and what they went through during the war and nine hundred days of siege of Leningrad (St Petersburg) by the nazists during 1941-1944. Swedish journalist Ulrika Knutson writes in her resumé in Expressen last week that if you only read one book this year, this should be the one.

I read it as I am on my way to St Petersburg to speak on a seminar about women creativity. I am shaken.

2.

Nätverkstan has been invited to St Petersburg to speak in connection to the opening of the exhibition Creative Women on October 23, exhibiting Inventions from Swedish women.

The exhibition is an initiative by Tekniska Museet (The Swedish National Museum of Science and Technology) where Museum Director Ann Follin realized when looking through the 55.000 objects in their collection that only 100 of these were made by women. It also showed when looking deeper that of all patent applications in Sweden only five percent came from women.

This raised questions of whether women are less inventive than men? Or perhaps less creative?

They didn’t believe this to be true and put together the exhibition of women inventors, an exhibition that in cooperation with Swedish Institute has toured to around ten different countries raising questions of the role of women in innovation.

The St Petersburg-based organisation Social and Economic Institute  arranges the seminar inviting a Swedish and a Russian speaker. Olga Gracheva gave a very interesting contribution of the NGO Kaykino Creative Projects she just started two years ago with the aim of promoting and develop interest for the rural area around St Petersburg. An amazing initiative.

The women in the book are with me.

The only connection between these two things is that it’s about women and their hidden voices. Women in 1940s and women in 2012.

Swedish Institute supports the seminar and project, host organization in St Petersburg (run by two charismatic women) is the Social and Economic Institute, an institute focussing on educational initiatives, projects, conferences, and exchanges of experiences between women in the world. The exhibition is shown at the Water Museum, a museum examining the role of water with both an educational and interactive part for children and an open part for the public.

Svetlana Aleksijevit’s book ”Kriget har inget kvinnligt ansikte” is translated by Kajsa Öberg Lindsten (Ersatz 2012).

25 oktober, 2012

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Center vs periphery

Often debated, and the politicians in Region Västra Götaland love to join the choir, is the relation between the central city or capital and the periphery. Urbanization has made this a burning question. A constant topic on politicians agenda is how to deal with depopulation of the countryside.

The discussion is often built as if the center is in opposition to the periphery. Instead of a perspective of how the two can support each other in development. American–Canadian activist and writer Jane Jacobs (1916–2006), who had a great interest in urban development and communities, wrote in mid 60s about this dilemma. Her main thesis was that cities are the main drivers of economic development.

The June 30th number of Economist puts London on a high as the international hub in UK and discusses its role for development of the rest of Britain. And the lack of appreciation of its brilliance among policymakers.

”Now history is moving on, and the policymakers are messing up.  They could tip the city into a decline without even noticing it, for the ecosystem of a great city is a complex and fragile thing.”

”Stay open to stay great” is the conclusion of the Economist leader article. Staying open means continue to let foreigners and immigrants coming into the country. They have helped built London to the city it is and more help is needed. Building a fortress around Europe doesn’t seem like the most forward-looking idea.

9 juli, 2012

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Platform for Cultural and Creative Industries • Brussels

When EU leaders gathers to discuss and form policies for the European Union each participating member is balancing 1) their own nation’s interest and 2) the interest for EU as a whole. In that specific order.

EU leaders have been greatly criticized for not being able to put up a strong and convincing plan for how to come out of the financial crisis and save the euro. The balancing act between the interest of the nation and that of the structure as a whole is, to put it mildly, in conflict.

The discussion in the EU Platform for Cultural and Creative Industries is a miniature of the same problem.

EU Commission invited cultural organizations and networks in late 2007 to form platforms within different topics and policy-areas with the aim of coming up with recommendations to put in to the Commission’s work on culture. Spring 2008 these different platforms started their work.

Through the method structured dialogue the Commission hoped for a better – and more structured – dialogue between the Commission and the different actors in the cultural field.

The platforms have worked very differently. The Platform for Cultural and Creative Industries, a platform formed by around forty organizations, has proposed recommendations for the development of CCI but the road to finally agree on something has been bumpy. Some of the Platform’s participating organizations have refused to sign the final proposition, some have been objecting along the way.

No-one is surprised. Forty organizations representing publishers, audio-visuals, label companies, musicians and composers, architecs, universities and training centres and more gather in this one platform. The needs, structure, possibilities and challenges differ within each of these areas, so much that they can hardly be seen as one industry.

Is it just impossible, then, for the cultural field to agree and in consensus propose  strong overall recommendations to the EU that would benefit the sector as a whole?

Well, it’s symptomatic. What EU leaders fail to do on the large EU level, cultural organizations fail in their particular area. The interest of lobbying the agenda of the organization you are representing stands in the way of the interest for the sector as a whole.

It also needs to be said that the mandate for these platform called for by the EU Commission has been extremely vague if at all existing. The organizations forming the Platform for Cultural and Creative Industries have been working hard and with great seriousness taking the task of forming relevant recommendations.

The reception from the Commission has been lukewarm and the question hangs in the air if they have at all had any impact on forming the new cultural programme Creative Europe.

Still, Xavier Troussard, Head of Unit Cultural policy, diversity and intercultural dialogue, stresses that they now propose more money for the new programme, which of course in times of financial crisis would be an accomplishment however small it is.

It’s easy to in a haste and with frustration draw the conclusion that the actors in the cultural field can’t cooperate. It would be nice when the Commission now aims to evaluate the process, if it remembers to also look at the prerequisite set up for these platforms.

Sometimes the result you get depend on what question you asked.

Reflections from the meeting with The Platform for Cultural and Creative Industries, Brussels, February 6. Read also post here

6 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 forecast

The Encatc 19th Annual Conference in Helsinki was focusing on the future this year.

”A wind of change is blowing over our societies and reshaping our political, social and cultural paradigms. Increased urbanization, uneven social redistribution, a digital shift and an array of new audiences accessible mainly with the use of new technological tools – these are motors of change which provide as many challenges as they do opportunities.”

In a mix of key note speakers such as Saara L. Tallas, IKEA Professor in Business Studies in School of Business and Design, Linnaeus University (Sweden); Katri Halonen, acting head of degree program in Cultural management at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences; and Lidia Varbanonva, consultant, researcher and lecturer was mixed with intense group discussions on different topics. Encatc thematic areas had workshops within their specific themes as well as room for young researchers and research presentations.

Although the financial crisis hovered above like an evil cloud, optimistic thoughts were exchanged on the future of culture and its possibilities.

Read more of the conference here.

15 oktober, 2011

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Money&Meaning • Nairobi • Step 2

The workshop ”Money&Meaning” (or ”The Art of living on Art” as we also call it) in Nairobi is a continuation of workshops done in Nairobi and Mombasa during 2009 and 2010.

The idea is also to build further educational possibilities for artists in East Africa. The project is a cooperation between Nätverkstan and GoDown Arts Center in partnership with Sian Prime (UK), during 2010 funded by Swedish Inistute.

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3 december, 2010

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Mind-mapping among the palaces

Sunny cobblestoned streets and a vivid cultural life was the first impression of Lviv, Ukraine, after spending a couple of hours there. 3 days later that impression had even deepened and expanded along with our mission – to observe and to create a workshop for future.

An hour after arrival at Lviv Airport – a beautiful building more alike a train station than the airports we earlier have experienced – we meet Ihor Savchak from The Centre for Cultural Management. He is at the moment arranging a conference on cultural entrepreneurship and with his perspective and knowledge we where put in touch with culture personalities in the city. This turned in to be a multi faceted experience of project managers, artists, programmers, curators, directors and a poetry translator.

Since our main goal to visit Lviv was to develop and plan a future workshop, we focused on carefully listening and tuning in organisations and culture entrepreneurs and they soon grew into sources of inspiration. Day by day our work was processed and we found ourselves mind mapping and discussing lively how to shape a workshop influenced by the environment that surrounded us and at the same time develop possible new grounds to explore.

Palace of Arts has every reason to call itself a palace with its impressive 9000 square meters stuffed with exhibitions, screenings, conferences and events. Transformator is a project on electronic music, sound art and media installations and at the same time a mix of workshops, exhibitions, lectures and discussions. This year it will take place in November 26-28. The Ukrainian-Polish Radioschool, is about to launch a live on-line radio program and we also had the great opportunity to spend time with Lev Hrytsyuk, a Ukrainian translator with emphasis on Swedish poetry.

The last night was spent at a barbeque-party outside the city with over 30 culture entrepreneurs from all over the country, sharing culture experiences and Ukrainian hotdogs by the open fire. We also learned the meaning of the expression “Swedish family” in Ukraine. “- It ´s like ABBA. You live however you like and with who ever you like. Men and women mixed and more than two. When you spend a lot of time with friends or live together with friends we call it a Swedish family.” A perfect wrap up for a perfect stay in Lviv. We look forward to coming collaborations.

Text & Photo: Helena Persson and Carl Forsberg, Project Managers at Nätverkstan

Links:
www.kultura.org.ua
www.artpalace.org.ua
www.transformatorproject.org
www.radioschool.com.ua

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9 oktober, 2010

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Response to EU Green Paper

On April 27 2010, the EU Commission launched a Green Paper on how to unlock the potential in the cultural and creative industries. The twenty pages long paper build on former studies of the economic importance as well as job creating within these industries, and suggests approaches, incentives, and pose retoric questions as of how to unlock the potential that they found.

The European network Encatc has, together with Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths University of London and Nätverkstan in Göteborg, prepared a response. Download it here:encatc-response-to-eu-green-paper .

Read this former post from the European Forum of Cultural Industries in Barcelona on March 29-30 2010.

23 juli, 2010

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Encatc Conference • Barcelona Oct, 21-24 2009

Four conference days filled with seminars, working group meetings, worksops, study visits and meetings in Barcelona just took place at the Encatc Annual Conference.

During the talk between Isabelle Schwartz from European Cultural Foundation, Angels Margarit from Angels Margarit Dance Company, and Angel Meastres from Transit the role of cultural managers were tossed and turned. What is the role of cultural managers? Is it only a role mainly having Artistic production on one side and management on the other? On other point put forward was that of representation within the EU-institutions and funding. The Artistic point of view is not put forward in an organized form, since the organization among Artists is quite week. The publishing house, recording companies, film industry are represented and have organisations that lobby for their interest, but not the Artists. That is more on individual level. There is an interesting balance between framework and independence, something Angel Meastres put forward, and where is the cultural manager? They are mainly emphasizing ideas and how to find money, not society and building infrastructre. Something to consider in educational programmes around Europe.

A visit at Can Xalant showed an Artistic collective, Transit, running residency-programmes, workshops and exhibitions. An old farming house, owned by the municipality, now embedded and surrounded by larger companies and industries. Their deal was quite unusual. The municipality set up a competetion to find who would get the possibility to run the building. Artistic groups sent in their proposals of activities and ideas. Transit won and had now built an infrastructure, programmes, activities and resiencies. Now it’s time to apply again, with a new application. Their time run out in December, and they will get the decision…in December. January 1 they are supposed to continue with programming if they get money, if not, they are supposed to leave the house with everything in it. Either step on the gas pedal or brake.

So, how do you plan a serious and sustainable organization under those conditions?

For the conference programme, look here. Nätverkstan took part in two presentations: 1) the working group meeting ”Creative Entrepreneurship and Education in Cultural Life”, download the pdf here: encatcwg_barcelona-oct09. , and 2) the dialogue on ”How to detect creativity potentials in the digital environment” together with Jordi Sellas i Ferrés at, among other things, RBA Audovisual. Download the presentation here: encatc09-presentation-oct-09_2.

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27 oktober, 2009

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The Economy of Creativity • Nairobi

I was stunned with what the government official was saying. I had to hear it referred by another person before I believed it.

The workshop days on the topic ”The Economy of Creativity” started with a TV-show with well-known actor and journalist John Sibi-Okumu as the presenter. Invited to the panel were celebrities from Kenyan business and creative life. Hip-hop artist Nameless shared panel with business man Manu Chandaria,TV-personality Dan Ndambuki known for his very popular show ”Churchill Live”, a representative from the Rugby team, Anders Öhrn from Swedish Institute and the governmental official. It was a talk of the economy of creativity, obstacles and possibilities for creative industries in Kenya, the relation between culture and business life. The governmental official said that a cultural policy is coming and a national endowment for the Arts will be in place, something very welcomed by the Artists in the audience although many afterwards told me that they heard this so many times. And as she talked she was addressing problems in the field, and she explained the problems with something like: ”People have an attitude problem” and ”this needs to be changed”. People have an attitude problem? A clip will be on youtube soon, so let’s check if she really said this.

After the show, mainly cultural entrepreneurs and some representatives from business life gathered on a one and a half day workshop to discuss how cultural entrepreneurs and investors could empower each other. The thought was that business life needs the creative industries, as well as the other way around. After long and intense discussions and the full commitment of participants acting as investors investing money in cultural projects, it was quite obvious that venture capital and cultural projects and businesses have difficulties finding each other. Investors will not find the opportunities they are looking for in these projects and Artists’ might not be interested in this sort of capital. They just don’t make enough profit to be interesting for the investor and the major drive for the Artists is not profit, but meaning. For a few it might be a way, and for them it would perhaps be interesting to build bridges, but for the majority this is not a solution. It is important, all-the-same, to learn from each other and there are benefits for both business and cultural field to interact more, was a thought from the conference.

On the evaluation after the workshop, a few conclusions were drawn to strengthen the creative industries and the awareness of the same. Maybe not so new, but even more strongly:

1. Strengthen cultural entrepreneurs and professional Artists with management tools and other similar skills. Education, workshops and training is needed.

2. Strengthen the creative field as a sector through better organization and structure.

3. Promote the creative industries and show the potential for other fields. Raise awareness with businesses and investors.

The workshop was funded by Swedish Institute and Strömme Foundation, support from the Swedish Embassy in Nairobi,  in the project ”Empowering Creators and Investors” run by Pratik Vithlani in cooperation with GoDown Arts Centre and Nätverkstan. Read more under category ”Kenya” on the side on this site.

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13 september, 2009

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Konst & Politik/Art & Politics

How can Artists and politicians have a better dialogue? How could they better understand each others working conditions? If you put Artists and politicians together in a process – what would come out of it? The region Västra Götaland started the project Art & Politics in 2003. It is run by Jörgen Svensson, a Swedish well-known Artist, the delegates are both politicians and Artists.

The group meets around 2-3 times a year to discuss issues like: How can it become better for Artists to work in Västra Götaland? How can the conditions for Artists improve in this region? How can Artistic quality be measured in a structure that only measures quantity? How can the process become more accepted, and not only the Artistic product? Politicians are in lack of arguments for culture – how do you find qualified arguments for culture in a political structure where econimc arguments are in focus? How can it become possible for Artists to work as Artists?

Yesterday the results from the work of the group was presented for the Cultural Committee in Region Västra Götaland and hopefully some of the suggestions, like the one of starting a studio consultancy in West Sweden together with municipalities, property owners and Artists to resolve one big dilemma for Artists; axess to cheap studios for their Artistic work.

Download the presentation here (in Swedish):konstpolitik_090827. Read more here.

28 augusti, 2009

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Cultural Exchange • Karnataka & Västra Götaland

”Actually, I am keeping the schedule fuzzy”

Actor, filmmaker and entrepreneur Prakash Belawadi present a packed schedule of meetings, as we start a week of pursuing the collaboration between cultural organizations in Västra Götaland, Sweden, and Karnataka, India. The schedule is constantly changing, adding new meetings, moving others to another day, depending on when people can meet us and to achieve the most on days starting around nine, bedtime around midnight.

The cooperation is within several fields; film and film education, media workshops, performing arts, storytelling, and social entrepreneurship. We meet the newly set up government run Film Academy in Bangalore, the Hubba Festival, Suchitra Film Society and Suchitra Cinema and Cultural Academy, Center for Film and Drama, filmmakers and a poet to discuss the film situation in Bangalore.

A delegation from Museum of World Cultures, Nätverkstan and the Secretery for Cultural Affairs in Västra Götaland are on a five days visit to pursue the cooperation. In October the Göteborg International Film Festival will visit Mumbai and Bangalore and in December the School of Film Directing at Göteborg University will go to Bangalore with the aim of starting long-term cooperation.

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12 augusti, 2009

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Chicago Conference traces

After the opening speeches of the conference ”Creative Entrepreneurship and Education in Cultural Life”, the poet Marc Kelly Smith took the floor. He is best known for founding Poetry Slam in 1987, a new presentation and reading style of poetry now spread around the world. Is he an entrepreneur, he asks himself and the audience, before he changes into one of the characters in ”Wilderness”,  a poem written by American (and on-and-off Chicago-based) writer and poet Carl Sandburg. He performed ”Chicago”, another poem by Sandburg, and also a piece by the English poet D.H Lawrence.

Three intense conference-days going from theoretical discussions and reflections to practical examples from USA and Europe in workshops and seminar sessions, as well as study visits were included in the conference, arranged by Columbia College Chicago and Encatc in Chicago on July 16–18. The main topic – if and how artistic education should include entrepreneurial skills – were tossed and turned over the days. The participants, professional educators and artists from many different countries, shared their experiences and expertise. Many examples were put forward, where management skills, career planning, project planning was part of the curricula, a trend that goes well into today’s discussion of entrepreneurship. The question of cultural economy was pursued; both the perspective of the impact of culture and art to the economy in society as a whole, something put forward by many studies; and the economy for Artists and how these professionals could build a sustainable economy on their profession.

Conference programme can be downloaded here: program_pdf.

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19 juli, 2009

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More on Africa

Another interesting website for Art in Africa is the website started by the Arterial Network, artsinafrica.com. The aim is to provide information on Arts, culture, creative industries in all African countries to enhance and facilitate cooperation and new connections.

4 juli, 2009

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The funding gap • Project work in Kenya

As we in the project team pursue the question of interaction between business and cultural field during our sessions, several things emerge. And as we get in to the thought of investors investing in cultural businesses to make profitable returns, a few more things get clear.

Many of the people we meet talk about the potential of creative industries in Kenya, people from both business and cultural side. There is an opening, a collective thought is, a potential, which should be addressed. But how? How would you do to catalyze this potential and at the cost of what? What are the trade-offs?

Samuel Muvelah, at Zimele Asset Management Company Limited, has long experience of project work in different parts of Kenya, venture capital and is now a money manager for those who put in around 50 dollars and want their savings to grow. ”The reason the creative field is not seen, is that it’s lacking sufficient institutional organization to integrate with formal capital structures”, is his major point. ”The field is disorganized, so how do you find talent? How do you begin to cooperate with creative industries?” ”To catalyze the potential you need an entry point!”

Muthoni Udonga, on the other hand is musician and a real entrepreneur. She runs festivals with a variety of the top East African Artists, run workshops, and she does this with the perspective of both doing excellent music events, and do activities that develop the field. All this at the same time as she runs her own music career. ”Film, tv, music are really taking off here in Nairobi. On small budgets and very entrepreneurial”, she says. Together with producer Robert Wawawei, they describe a growing and bubbling music life with many upcoming new Artists. It’s a growing field, but one also struggling with skills gaps. ”Artists have to think like entrepreneurs, but that doesn’t happen here”, is Muthoni’s point. Together with few funding bodies, lack of investment money and an unpredictable audience, it’s hard to come forward. Hard – but not impossible.

So how could this funding gap between investors wanting to invest in creative industries but don’t know how, and a creative field wanting to be able to live on their content be resolved? How can bridges be built? In September the first meeting will be held in Nairobi putting these partners together to find concrete suggestions to come forward.

But in such a complex project there are many things to consider, and the team of Godown Art Center, Mangowalla Ventures and Nätverkstan, have been digging deep in to these discussions. A few things has emerged, perhaps not so new, but still very evident.

1. Investors expect an economic profit in their investments. Considering the creative field, which consists of a wide variety of activities from the Arts to design and media, only a few will be in consideration. Only a very small portion of cultural businesses and organizations has the chance to make these sorts of profits. They exist, of course, and there is a point to build bridges so they can meet, but for the cultural field as a whole, this will not be a solution.

2. Majority in the creative field are single Artists, small-scale cultural entrepreneurs and organizations that run not-for-profit entities. These might not be in the viewpoint of the investors, but are important as job creators. Here future jobs will be created.

3. Content production and symbolic value are becoming more and more important in the business world. The business field needs the creative field to be able to sustain the value of their products in a world in fast transition.

4. The Artists and investors have one common denominator: they both live on taking risks. The Artist takes risk to create meaning, the investor to create returns.

5. What are the trade-offs? For the investor one such is perhaps the relation between the higher expected returns, the less quality of the Artistic work, if you in the ”quality”-word also put in the aspect of uniqueness. This relation might not be binding, a film production selling very well and generating a large profit might also be of high quality. But for most cultural entrepreneurs striving in the field, there will not be large amounts of money to be made, unless you put less amount of time into increasing quality or your Artistic talent or do something else.

So for the Artist on the other hand, the relation between Artistic value and survival are true. Will you be able to live on your Art? If you want to earn money, is there a trade-off on your Artistic value?

The project is a project funded by the Swedish Institute and Strömme Foundation and run by Pratik Vithlani at Mangowalla Ventures in cooperation with Godown and Nätverkstan.

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27 juni, 2009

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Project work in Kenya

The post-election riots in Kenya in 2007 with many people killed and injured is still an open wound in society. Even though troubles between ethnic groups have been seen before, the strength and cruelty of the reactions in 2007 shook people from the ground. How could it happen?

At the opening of Kenyan Artist Peterson Kamwathi’s exhibition at Goethe-Institute in Nairobi on June 23, both of the inaugural speakers talk about the riots and the fact that no-one, still after two years, has been put to justice. Kamwathi’s exhibition ”Sitting Allowance” is a direct reaction of the environment before and after the election in 2007. In a text the Artist himself describes his work:

” The composition of these drawings is inspired by formal photos. The formal posture is meant to depict the rigidity and conformity that at many times is prevalent within institutions. Institutions are champions of formality and while there is nothing wrong with that, at times formality can be at the expense of humanity”.

Many we meet talk about the riots and the importance of building a positive development. Next election is in 2012 and the fear is that the same will happen. At Godown Art Center Art and culture are important factors for development, both societal and economical. The Art center is still a work-in-progress, Joy Mboya and Judy Ogana tell us as we walk around the compounds. They managed to get a hold of localities in an industrial area in Nairobi and have made it into an Art center with studios for Artists, renting out places for music studios, dance company, puppet maker. They also have an exhibition hall and a performance stage. They wanted to – among many other things – give Artists a sense of belonging, a place where they could go to perform, paint, and exhibit.

We are here for a week to prepare for a project and event that aim to bring investors, donors and businesses together with cultural entrepreneurs and organisations from Kenya and Sweden. The funding gap between cultural field and funding bodies is universal. But there is also another side. As the creative field is growing and becoming more important for economy there is a growing interest from investors to find partners in creative field. But they have a hard time finding where and with whom to invest. So what will happen if we bring these two together around the same table?

The project is a project funded by the Swedish Institute and Strömme Foundation and run by Pratik Vithlani at Mangowalla Ventures in cooperation with Godown and Nätverkstan.

Reports and links on Kenya will be posted on this site. For now, have a look at African Colours, an Internet portal for African contemporary Artists.

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24 juni, 2009

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The Art of living on Art

The summer academy ”The Art of living on Art” started this week and we just got back from three interesting days of work in Steneby, Dalsland. The academy is started by Göteborg University, Academy of Music and Drama, in cooperation with Nätverkstan, and turns to those who are, or aim to be, professional Artists. It’s about Art and entrepreneurship with a bearing thought that Artists know more about entrepreneurship than they (and others) believe they do. One of the aims is to make Artists aware of the competences and resources they have and catalyze these by reflection, discussions, good examples and guidance. It’s about taking power of your own lives. If you want to make a living on your Art – what do you need to do? What actions do you have to take? What hinders are there on the way?

There are no easy solutions or quick ways. On one hand report after report show that creative industries are a growing field, this is where you will find future jobs and new entrepreneurial ideas. At the same time other studies show that the income level among Artists is very low. So how do you do if you want to live of the income from your Art? The idea of the summer academy is to create a room for reflection and to start look at the resources you have; ideas, competences, skills; and to look at your network and relations. And ask yourself ”What do I lack or what is stopping me from doing what I want to do?”

The models used are workshops for self-reflection. The Artists have the competence; the teachers are  putting up the framework and leading the process of reflection. Many of the workshop-themes and models have been done in cooperation with Sian Prime, who was one of those running the incubator Creative Pioneer Programme at Nesta in London a few years ago, an incubator specifically within the Artistic field.

Three intense, hard working and fun days. Now the course continues with group and individual coaching. Next gathering with the whole class is July 10.

The Summeracademy is running over the summer and in August each student will have a three-year action plan on how to live on their Art. Read the Swedish website Att leva på sin konst (The Art of living on Art). On this website you can find many reports of creative industries and the incomelevel of Artists, look under the category ”Reports, articles and books”.

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17 juni, 2009

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Authors

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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