Archive för University

Prisoners’ Dilemmas

The lack of relevant measurement methods for culture has even made artists react. Swedish artist Staffan Hjalmarsson called it Five squares of Sorrow in a blogpost last year, pointing at a study

commissioned by Region Västra Götaland to follow up the region’s performance within its five focus areas. Indicators were chosen for the different areas, but when measured the focus area Culture was glowing empty. There were no available statistics.

Cultural organizations feel obliged to commission economic impact studies since this is what everyone else does and is expected by the funder. But no-one, including the public funder, trust the figures. Well-performed studies get mixed with less relevant ones and the figures can’t be trusted. It becomes a charade, or as Hasan Bakhshi, Director at Creative Industries in Nesta’s Policy and Research Unit, calls it in his speech in Sidney on March 20: A Prisoners’ Dilemma. In worst case these impact studies are used as evidence for decision-makers in lack of something else.

At School of Business, Economics and Law University of Gothenburg last Friday (Arpil 20) measuring the value of culture was on the agenda. Invited experts in the field presented aspects and research challenges in the seminar The Value of Culture.

Professors Bruno S FreyTrine BilleDavid Throsby and PhD student John Armbrecht all pointed at the need of finding relevant indicators for cultural value. Economic value has one singel unit to measure from (money), while cultural value is multi-faceted and has no single unit of account, as David Throsby put it. This calls for other methods of valuation (as something different than value) and as he concluded; a more holistic approach of valuation is necessary.

Trine Bille was looking at cultural policy and the tendency in the Nordic Countries to look more at the growth perspective rather than the welfare one. But, she concluded, the welfare perspective is often under-estimated and the growth perspective highly exaggerated in cultural policy. The biggest value of the Cultural and Creative Industries is the created value in other areas outside its own field.

Perhaps the most remembered quotes were ”Simplicity has some virtue” (David Throsby) and ”Just look at raw figures. If you don’t see any effects in the raw facts don’t run after it. You will find statistics if you do, but not relevant one” (Bruno S Frey).

Download Hasan Bakhshi’s speech at Culture Count: Measuring Cultural Value Forum in Sydney on March 20 here: Bakshi_ValueCulture.pdf. Read more posts on statistics and measurement here

22 april, 2012

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Snapshots in Belgrade

The Yugoslav Museum of History in Belgrade, also known as Museum 25th of May, is now hosting the 52nd October Salon It’s Time We Get To Know Each Other.

The curators, Israeli artist Galit Eilat and Slovenian curator Alenka Gregoric, use as a starting point Milgram’s simulation experiment on obedience towards authorities and want to catalyse a discussion on obedience, social responsibility, conformism and dis-obedience. The artists chosen all refer to the topic of what we, human beings, are willing to do when we think we are not responsible.

25th of May is former Yugoslav dictator Tito’s birthday and the Museum was planned to be his Memorial Centre where he would collect all the things he collected in his life; records, paper, art work. He is buried just behind the Museum. One art piece by Nemanja Cvijanovic’s Paying my Electricity Bill is a heated replica of the grave of Tito and refers to parts of history that cannot be erased.

The independent cultural scene that I meet is spurring and generous. Interesting organizations like the cultural house and European Center for Culture and Debate Grad down by the river Sava, and Rex placed in an old synagogue, both aim to debate contemporary topics relevant in Serbian and European society. While Rex is a laboratory for research of new fields of culture, Grad provides design and art space, run projects, and have a small stage for debates and performances.

Rex also runs the Free Zone Film Festival, an international filmfestival running this week. In his film A letter to dad, Serbian film-maker Srdan Keca searches for answers of why his father choose to die. He writes a letter to his dead father as he looks back to try understand what happened. In his interviews with his uncle, the father’s old friend, his mother; going through photos and films from the past; a story of a life interrupted by war unfolds. It relates back to the exhibition. How could it happen?

Other initiatives is the Monday Club, arranged by the Swedish Embassy and Museum of Science and Technology within the project Creative Society. Each Monday during the fall a Swedish and Serbian manager, professor, leader meet to share experience and knowledge from running an organization, setting up an initiative, or research on stage at six o’clock. This form of seminar has become quite popular among artists, cultural entrepreneurs and managers, as well as among university professors.

Wherever you turn on this independent cultural scene in Belgrade, in these few snapshots, you meet people educated at the MA Cultural Policy and Management at University of Arts in Belgrade. Many witness how important the training programme has been to build a strong independent scene in Serbia. During the conference on Management of culture and media in the knowledge society challenges in cultural management and the role of internationalization are addressed. It would also be interesting to discuss the role of these educations in strengthening an independent cultural scene in society.

Download the intervention from Nätverkstan here:belgrade_conference2011.pdf.

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10 november, 2011

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DasArts in Amsterdam

I’m in a school building, originally designed to cater for children with lung complaints. The huge terrace, the number of windows and doors opening onto the adjoining park were supposed to provide them with lots of fresh air. But now it’s a residential theatre education called DasArts, in Amsterdam.

In this room with windows to the park we are 15 people. Most of them are master students here to give each other downloadedfilefeedback on their artistic practice duringthree intense days. Some mentors and advisors are here to support the specific student project they follow. Three people are staff members of DasArts and they have in turn invited Karim Bennamar to hold this feedback session with the students.

Karim makes an introduction and clarifies feedback should be about learning. But the brain is lazy and and it goes to places it already knows. By restricting the feedback in a format, something new could come out. Then he goes through six different styles of feedback and for every student presentation the studentgets to choose what type of feedback he or she wants from the group.

For me as an outsider it was noticeable the group knew each other rather well and there was a level of intimacy that made it possible for a more honest and straight forward critique than I have experienced before. For example some students asked for the “gossip round” a type of feedback where the others talk about you and your artistic work as if you weren’t present. Still, throughout the day the atmosphere remained on a good level although there were moments of uncomfort. Altogether these feedback methods appeared very effective given that huge number of different thoughts in a short time.

In the mission statement of DasArts you can find the following quote from Heiner Goebbels: “A group of young artists can develop the power to stop doing something: not to show the obvious, to mistrust the flood of inner images, the so-called ingenious ideas. Anyway, theatre is not about the ‘flowering fantasy’ of the artist, it’s about the imagination of the audience.”

Text by: Malin Schiller, Coordinator at Kulturverkstan/Nätverkstan

www.reflectiontools.nl

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3 maj, 2011

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The end of UK Creative Industries?

It looks like the politics on creative industries started by the New Labour in 1997 has come to an end. The incentives started in the late 90s were new and has contributed to create a market for small-scale cultural businesses, models that have been exported in Europe, all the way to Shanghai in Far East. UK has long been seen as the cradle of creative industries.

powenstflemingWhen Chris Smith was appointed by Tony Blair in 1997 to be Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sports, he could continue a process started in the 80s centred around Greater London Council (GLC). GLC described the cultural scene in London as the new ”industry” being important for creativity, social inclusion and economy. It was an attempt to describe cultural initiatives as the new industry and redefine a term first used by the two critical theorists Horkheimer and Adorno. The two were upon their arrival to the US in the 1940s chocked by how popular culture was produced in almost a factory way producing standardized culture goods. It was like an industry, they said in disgust.

The Greater London Council changed the understanding of cultural industries in the 90s, to instead describe the small-scale, cooking, multi-skilled cultural life with a potential and importance for the economy in London. Chris Smith could pick up and continue on this road, creative industries have grown and has become an important part of society and, many reports have confirmed, contribute in a substantial way to economy.

This is an epoch now being buried. Tomorrow (Wednesday, Oct 20) is Axe Wednesday, as it has been called in UK, where the government will announce massive cuts in all sectors of society. TV-news is showing expected figures of 500.000 public jobs being lost. Culture is expecting around 40% cuts in funding.

Two large factors have completely reshaped the scene: The financial crisis and the Conservative government.

The present government is reinterpreting creative industries to mainly concern media, dismantling what most understand as the large contribution of cultural industries; social inclusion, regional development, and labour market.

goldsmithsSeveral effects are expected in the cultural field, such as a total dismantling of cultural policy where for example the Film Commission has seen its last days, a complete dismantling of the regional level, a probable redefining and change of creative industries, cuts on most cultural development agencies, enormous cuts in the universities which means more focus on employability and less money on research and long-term learning.

Will this mean that we see the end of creative industries?

Interviews done in London, 18-19 October 2010, a project commissioned by Region Västra Götaland (Sweden) to do a small knowledge and research survey. Interviewed were Paul Owens at Burns Owens Partnership, Tom Fleming at Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy, Sian Prime, Director of MA Creative and Cultural Entrepreneursip at Goldsmiths University, and Gerald Lidstone, Director of Institute of Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths University.

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19 oktober, 2010

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Gothenburg Combo

At the Summer Academy ”The Art of living on Art” starting on June 14 eleven participants from fields of music, film and visual art gathered to develop their future ideas and what steps to take to find ways to live on their art. The Academy is an initiative started by Academy of Music and Drama in Göteborg together with Nätverkstan, this year involving teachers from the all different artistic faculties.

Workshops are combined with lectures and examples of artists finding their way to live on what they do. One of the latter is the amazing guitar duo Gothenburg Combo. David Hansson and Thomas Hansy met during at the Academy of Music and Drama in Göteborg where they studied classical music, started up a band and is now touring the world playing acoustic guitar – one of the hardest instruments to try to make a career of, we are told.

They started during the education by setting up scheduled jams every Friday. No excuses were allowed to skip these sessions. No matter how you felt, if a nail was broken (they use their nails when playing), family reasons or whatsoever were reasons enough to cancel a session. You showed up and delivered something. The thought was simple: In working life you have to deliver. This was a good schooling into what that means.

They say that there is no miracle formula to reach success. It’s about delivering the best you can at every session. To work hard. Traditional marketing has not worked, they found, it’s difficult to plan and do a market strategy. Instead other things has shown important, such as networking and always work on reaching high artistic quality. A collection of many small steps in a mixture has been a way to work and, it showed a way to success. A mixture of sending material to possible partners and concert arrangers and playing at large and small concerts around the world. One example of how they work is on the tours around the world where their motto is to always come prepared, so they do not, like many other artists, have sit and practice in the hotel room into the last minute before the concert. They use the time to network, meet possible new contacts, jam with other artists for inspiration or just connecting with other musicians.

”It’s all or nothing.”

”We have created an urge for our music.”

The Summer Academy ”The Art of living on Art” is a ten week university course for professionals within the artistic professions. Read more here.

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26 juni, 2010

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Spivak and Clandestino Festival

img_0290She absorbs the room by her mere presence. As she walk up the stage to sit down on her chair, an excited murmur goes through the room. It’s evident that many have read and highly respect the work of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, one of the most prominent thinkers within the research field of postcolonial theory. It’s merely impossible to refer to her talk with John Hutnyk, Professor in Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths University. She combines stories from her past and present with well-thought theories and a deep knowledge and concern for society and societal processes.

Göteborg is at the moment full of researchers, thinkers, professors and artists from all the world. Everyday an interesting talk is going on, the coming weekend will be full of music events with musicians travelling to Göteborg to perform. The event is part of the Clandestino Festival. The talks part of the cooperation Clandestino Talks:: Border Reverb, the last being a cooperation between Clandestino Festival in Göteborg, Goldsmiths University in London and Interarts in Berlin.

The festival is run by Bwana Club, a group of cultural producers, djs, and authors who through different forms like seminars, exhibitions, and actions aim to work across borders and with specific aim of democracy in the globalized world.

Below a talk by Spivak at University of California, Santa Barbara found on youtube.

10 juni, 2010

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Cultural Innovation Seminar

Wagner is said to have stated that if everything is destroyed, the nation clinging on to art will survive. A nation ignoring it’s art ends being a nation.

Arvind Lodaya’s thoughts of cultural innovation and democratizing culture seem to begin with the same standing point. Culture, art, innovation is done in everyday life among ordinary people – i e all of us. Without the social capital – all those things that count for most in the daily lives of people (to use one of the definitions put forward) – we will be poorer. And we seemed to have lost track of this.

Civil society is mentioned in every policy document now-a-days, from local, regional, and state level in Sweden to EU. We have to cooperate with civil society, we are told. Definitions vary and no-one seem to fully understand what it means. Another fact is that policy documents rarely reach ordinary people, Arvind Lodaya argues. ”Temples of Culture” are built and nurtured; artistic and cultural institutions whose existence only gather a few initiated and seem to exclude others. It’s dilemma not only of policy makers and politicians who put a lot of money into sustaining our cultural institutions. It’s something  also pursued by artists themselves, artistic universities, and cultural and art organizations.

Cultural Innovation is about art and culture found in our ordinary lives, is the message of Arvind Lodaya. This is where the driving force for cultural change takes form. The Indian context where he takes his staning point is also like a melting pot of cultures, languages, and people. Small-scale cultural entrepreneurs are found in every corner in the urban India; tailors, fabric producers, crafts, design, game, IT-experts, writers and so forth. In Europe cultural entrepreneurs are also small-scale, although working in a different fashion and structure. It’s in this small-scale environment innovation and new ideas start growing. How can cultural institutions facilitate everyday cultural innovation and what does the interface between an institution and social capital look like? What could policy makers do to support innovation within culture?

Arvind Lodaya’s answer is clear: Innovation needs to be nurtured rather than strangled. One way is to stop reducing people to only being customers and from policy level regarding them as much more complex than this.

See the slideshow of Arvind Lodaya here. A film of the seminar will be available on Internet soon. The seminar was held in cooperation between School of Design and Crafts, University of Gothenburg, Region Västra Götaland, Encatc and Nätverkstan on May 24 2010. More on Arvind Lodaya can be found here and under cateogory ”India” on this site.

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30 maj, 2010

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Public Sphere and IPR

”The Era of Information Protectionism”.

This is how you could describe the time we live in, states Lars Ilshammar’s, Director of Labour Movement Archives and Library. What was before part of the public domain is today productified; knowledge becomes a product. How, for instant, he questions, is it possible that all the old heritage of the written documents, photos, films are hidden in the basement of the library and not accessible for the public? And then, when it’s decided to make old material public and documents, where the copyright is no longer a limit, are scanned to be digitized – a new copyright is created. Why not let this be what it is – owned by the public domain?

His suggestion is that a policy on Memory is done from political level, giving the guidelines on how to handle all the cultural heritage in, what from Swedish could be translated to Memory Institutions, referring to all institutions dealing with our archives and libraries.

Eva Hemmungs Wirtén, Professor in Library and Information Science (Bibliotek- och Informationsvetenskap) at Uppsala University, takes us back to the Bern Convention from 1887 where the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) first took form. And the interesting evolving process to the modern IPR, where apparently Stockholm – the place for today’s seminar – were hosting a discussion on the IPR in 1967 that showed to be a complete turn in the Swedish position. The Bern Convention was set up by the exporters of culture, i e those who produced culture, and those who imported. Sweden was at the time of the Convention mainly an importer and argued for free IPR. While countries like France and UK, the old colonizing countries, where producing culture arguing for stricter rights for the creators. It took until 1967 for Sweden to change position.

The IPR’s where in the beginning about the creator, author, artist, and not until 1960s did it also include the investors or producers. These two are often mixed in the discussion, and it’s necessary, PhD in Civil Law and Legal Informatics at Stockholm University, Katarina Renman Cleason states, to find a balance between on one hand protection and the other accessibility.

The right of the individual is a base in a democracy; Publicist Arne Ruth begins with, and continues, as is the right to the commonage. What will this look like in the future?

The seminar, held in Stockholm on May 24th, was the second step in a three-step process of discussing the public domain and IPR. The first was a report written by Cultural Journalist Mikael Löfgren. The third is a seminar on September 22 where Google is invited in the discussion. The seminar was arranged by Nätverkstan, National Library of Sweden, Göteborg Book Fair, Foundation for the Culture of the future, and Region Västra Götaland.

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25 maj, 2010

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Cultural Innovation

Another buzzword in Europe is ”Innovation”. A word making the eyes of policy makers, economists and others shine with expectation. Last year in Europe was dedicated to the year of Creativity and Innovation and the creativity around how to get the attention from the EU Commission was interesting to follow.

As was said on the Forum of Cultural Industries in Barcelona recently, cultural and creative industries are still high on the priority list among cultural ministers in Europe. And with this also the question of how you could foster creativity and innovation within art and culture.  KEA European Affairs was commissioned last year by EU to do a study showing with facts how culture in itself had an impact on creativity.  Interesting, but is culture and art necessary always creative? And for the concept of innovation we are often stuck with the classical understanding of the word; as an invention you get patented, often found within medicine and technique. Structures are built to support and foster creative ideas within these fields, often together with technical Universities.

c_innovation_webHow does that apply on cultural products and artistic expressions? Very few of these can be patented. What would be innovation in a cultural and artistic context? What is cultural innovation? Where is the driving force for (cultural) change in society? How does cultural innovation happen?

On a meeting last week with one of the finance and support structures for SME’s put up by the Swedish state, two things were evident. They had never given finance support to cultural entrepreneurs as they could remember, and on a discussion on innovative ideas, art and culture was not on the agenda.

In May and June, Region Västra Götaland will host Arvind Lodaya, Senior Faculty and Dean, Research at Sristhi School of Art, Design and Tecnology, and an artist from Bangalore (India) as a visiting Professor. His working place will be Nätverkstan and his main focus is cultural innovation. Two seminars will be held in Göteborg to explore the topic together with participants.

Download the invitation here: Cultural_Innovation.pdf . You can also download a discussion paper by Mr Arvind Lodaya here: arvindlodaya_discussionnote.pdf. More can be read of Arvind Lodaya and Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology here. and here The residence is part of the programme Linking Initiatives, a cooperation between the state of Karnataka and Region Västra Götaland.

20 april, 2010

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Art and entrepreneurship @ Srishti

Göteborg University is planning a one-year master on Art an Entrepreneurship. The idea is that students start in Göteborg and do part of the education in Bangalore, India. Hopefully the part in Bangalore would be Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology.

A base for the cooperation would be student exchange, where Indian students go to Sweden and the other way around. For Swedish students there are great opportunities in learning a completely different environment, spend a longer time in a different context to get input about Art and entrepreneurship by mixing the theoretical with social practice.

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5 januari, 2010

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Toonskool • Education in animation

Satyajit Ray, the very well-known Bengali (Indian) filmmaker (1921-1992) says in his book first published in 1976, that he learnt one lesson of film making. It is ”(…) by far the most physically demanding of all activities that are dignified by the epithet ‘creative’”. ”The whole process takes place in three broad stages: writing, filming and editing”, he writes and continues: ”All three are creative; but while in the first and the third one uses mainly one’s head, the second calls for the use of all one’s faculties – celebral, physical and emotional – going full steam at all times.”

Somehow our meeting at Toonskool, the education on animation, is about this. It’s about film making with animation, where you need several skills: craftsmanship of animation, cinema and film, filming, lighting, editing…Toonskoll started in 2004 and is India’s first degree programme in animation we are told. They have around 1000 students around India and the school is about the Art of animation. The focus is on the Artistic side and they even offer a course in acting so the student will better understand movement on stage as they animate their films. The concept is a lot about ”learning by doing” with the idea that you learn from your mistakes.

School of Film Directing in Goteborg has prolonged ideas of starting a school of animation in Sweden, and in the light of Toonskool, this seems necessary. How else will the field of animation evolve? Tarik Saleh, a film maker in Sweden, just launched the first full-length animated film in Sweden, Metropia (see clip below), a great piece of work. But how do you get more people involved in such risky and difficult projects? How do you make sure that skills are there for future projects?

An interesting discussion where film making, film directing and animation films seem very close in the thinking behind the making.

The visit is part of an exchange set up by Region Vastra Gotaland and Karnataka. Read o former post on animation in West Sweden and the making of Metropia here.

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14 december, 2009

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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 Art of living on Art • Final days Steneby

The summer academy ”The Art of living in Art” has come to an end after three intense workshop days at Stenebyskolan (School of Steneby) in Dalsland. Guest lecturer and workshop facilitator was Sian Prime, among many things MA at Goldsmiths University in UK.

The Artists taking part in the academy have been musicians, composers, visual artist, actresses, who have worked all summer on their action plans. They have in workshops in the beginning of summer visualized their future, looked at their skills, hinders and possibilities, money and meaning, what they put their time on, how to plan your actions differently to achieve what you want and so forth. They have had group meetings with a facilitator during summer, together with individual coaching sessions. And now, in Steneby, the final days of building relations in relationship modelling, working on their offer, discussing the literature they have read, drawing some conclusions. Everything in workshops, open discussions, talks two and two, and individual thinking and writing.

”Don’t stop look around you. Don’t stop caring. Don’t stop listening” is one of Sian Prime’s many interesting thoughts. There are three questions to keep constantly with you when thinking of what you offer as an artist and how this could interest others:

1) Why should I care?

2) Why should I trust you?

3) Why should I believe you?

You need to have your heart (1), guts (2), and head (3) with you when engaging with other professionals. Another thing is not to let money hinder you. You are not the only one not driven by money, Sian Prime explains, so are many others. ”Money is rarely the driver”, she says, you have to find out what drives those you want to work with and engage in building professional relationships. In the long run, this can build new ideas that you can live on, but you have to get started.

”Treat no as a question”, is another point. Always ask what the ”no” means. What does it stand for?

Nätverkstan runs the summer academy in cooperation with Göteborg University, Sian Prime, and the Västra Götaland. The Academy was the first of three summer academies. The experiences will also be put into the new Masters Programme at the University on Art and entrepreneurship that will be developed this year. Read this post on the start of the course.

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21 augusti, 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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Georgian – Swedish Cultural Exchange. Continuation.

The heroes survived. They were supposed to be killed after the film was made, but the film maker just couldn’t. The animated dolls were characters, personalities, so how could you kill them? Instead he hid them. After each movie he hid them in his house with the risk of getting caught. Intellectual property rights in the 70s, the government was afraid that the dolls would be used in another movie and they would have troubles with angry doll makers who wouldn’t get paid. Now we are able to watch them in a small, one-room museum. Beautiful hand-made dolls, made in Russia in the 70s for animated film made in Georgia. The most known is Bombora, a character who just wanted to go to school and in his frustration for not being able to sets fire on things. Now this character is posing over the entrance in the newly made amusement park at Tatsminda.

Wato Tsereleti, a well-known curator and Artist is describing the contemporary Art scene for us on a café. A major problem, many Artist tell us is space and funding. There is no space for Art or large events. In October the conference Artisterium is taking place, and a difficult part has been to find where to have it. A wonder, really, since Tbilisi is still very much a city in transition and there are many empty spaces. Wato Tsereleti has finally been able to find a locality, and the idea is to restore it into an Art center.

Many meetings has been taking place among visual Artists and Art education, between colleagues in the literature and publishing scene in Sweden and Georgia, as well as performance and film. Bakur Sulakauri Publishing is the biggest publishing house in Georgia, publishing around 200 books every year. They are meeting with colleagues at the publishing house Tranan in Sweden, together with writers, to discuss on how they can work together. The idea is that each Art form will come up with project ideas for future cooperation and exchange.

And as we walk to all these meetings, have  discussions between colleagues in the Art world, we pass the cells at Rustaveli Avenue and get reminded of the situation in this country. What is it we see in the streets? At Rustaveli, near the Parliament and Freedom Square the streets are filled with cells, small plastic covered boxes where people stay all day, all night in protest of the government. It’s difficult to analyse or understand what the cells stand for. Is it an organized protest of a well defined opposition? Or a more a protest of angry inhabitants showing their miscontent of the president? Or is it a show put forward by a few people with economic resources wanting to overthrow the president and take power? Perhaps it’s an Art show, or an installation? We get different versions, different stories. But it is clear that many people are very tired of the situation, of the threats of war, and long for coming back to a normal situation.

The visit is part of the project EKAE 2009, run by Natverkstan and financed by the Swedish Institute.

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11 maj, 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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Deserted places and creative destruction

Jan Jörnmark looks at his photos projected on the wall and seems still amazed of what happened. Around thirty people are sitting in the room, waiting for him to continue. ”I am an Associate Professor in Economic History at Göteborg University, I have written many books during my time, piled in heaps in the caches of the University – no-one reads them” he tells us with a warm Karlstad dialect. And he looks at the photos again and laughs. ”And then I started this project….”.

He was interested in deserted places; houses, areas, businesses, places that told a story, that had once been full of activity and was now, due to circumstances and changes in society, deserted. He started photographing these places. The photos show destruction, there is a feeling of abandonment around them, faded glory of once prosperous businesses and activities.

Capitalism is in constant change. Something is destructed, something else created, he tells us. If you don’t add new value to things, they will loose what was once valuable and be destroyed. There is an enormous demand for cultural value and therefore also a potential in adding this to old things to get something new. Jörnmark’s project is a typical project created in the new globalized economy. He started a website where he put all his photos. The interest was enormous. Around 20.000 visitors each month, comments of around 300. It’s the logic described by Chris Anderson, the Editor of Wired that described the new economy in globalized society in the book The Long Tail a few years ago. Internet is free. Money will not be made in traditional ways, instead Internet create new businesses and new products. For Jörnmark the product was the book he produced of all the photos he put on the website (where you find them free of charge). One book has become two books, which have been read and sold in masses. Many lectures and exhibitions have been held. A new book is on its way. Money is made. Sub cultures have been created around the project. It’s a success story that surprises him so much, that he still, even after a few years, is amazed of what happened.

Jan Jörnmark was one of several interesting speakers on the seminar this weekend (20-21 of March) at Jonsered Herrgård outside Göteborg, held by the Foundation for the Future of Cultures (Stiftelsen framtidens kultur) and Lokal Kultur on the topic ”Creative Industries and Involuntary Entrepreneurs”. For the programme, look at this post. Nätverkstan is working on a project based on the ideas of the Long Tail, have a look here.

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22 mars, 2009

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The Creative Industries: Ten years after

On March 20-21, a seminar on creative industries will take place in Jonsered, close to Göteborg. The seminar is arranged by the Foundation for the Culture of the Future (Stiftelsen framtidens kultur) and will discuss culture economy, the every day life of cultural work and the economical aspects, experienced based knowledge of cultural actors and more. The seminar is based on a study produced by Nätverkstan in 2002 called ”Den ofrivillige företagaren” (”The involuntary entrepreneur”). Many things have of course happened since it was written and a new edition will be released soon.

The concept of Creative Industries is fairly new in Sweden and it could be a good idea to look deeper into experiences from other countries. Nätverkstan has followed the development in Great Britain since 1999 where it definitely has been a bigger subject. In 1998, the recently created UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport placed the newly named ”Creative Industries” – media, design and arts based enterprises – at the heart of the nations economic future. The antecedents of the creative industries, the so-called ”Cultural Industries” of the 1970s and 80s were carefully steered from view, as the use of the term creative industries signalled a desire to harness cultural production to the new economic agenda.

In February last year Nätverkstan attended a seminar at the Open University in Milton Keynes called: The Creative Industries: Ten years after. The organisers, Mark Banks, Department of Sociology/CRESC, The Open University, and Justin O’Connor, Cultural and Media Industries Research Centre, University of Leeds asked themselves:  What has happened in the decade since 1998?

In the invitation Mark Banks reflects:

”On the one hand the creative industries can be seen to have gone from strength to strength. The UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport has re-launched its creative industry strategy with renewed vigour. The creative Economy Programme sets out an ambitious strategy, which once again places the creative industries at the heart of the UK’s economic future. The UK model has then been internationally exported, across Europe, and into territories as diverse as Australia, China and South Korea, shaping and being shaped by pre-existing policy frameworks, contributing to the rapid globalization of creative industry debate. Yet there are some hard questions to be asked and key issues to be addressed – this symposium attempts to address these issues and in doing so take forward an agenda for critical debate on the creative industries.”

Many interesting key speakers were invited: Justin O’Connor, David Hesmondhalgh, Andy Pratt, Kate Oakley, Chris Bilton, Mark Banks and Jason Toynbee. They addressed themes such as: The historical formation and context of creative industries; Creative industry policy and the legacy of New labour; Creative industries and local and regional development; Creative industries in comparative international contexts; The changing politics of creativity and creative industry work; And The future policy agenda for creative industries.

Several of the perspectives highlighted were indeed more critical and interesting than many of other seminars we have attended. Mark Banks talked about the shift from cultural to creative industries policy represents a de-politicization of cultural work in so far as ”cultural” concerns (i.e. those regarding meaning of work or its artistic, social or political value) have been sequestered in favour of approaches that focus on enhancing only ”creative” commodity production and economic value. Kate Oakley talked, among many other things, about an over focus on novelty as the primary determinant of cultural worth. Andy Pratt described how the cultural industries have been ”made up”. In particular – in the UK context – he examine the pre-mapping document (1998) period; the mapping document; and the ”framework” phase. He set out to show that categories are embedded in concepts, therefore the taxonomies that are used to measure the cultural industries, constitute them.

There is a web cast replay of the Creative Industries Symposium here. The programme of the event is found here. The programme (in Swedish) of the event in Jonsered on March 20–21: program-jonsered.pdf. The report ”Den ofrivillige företagaren” (in Swedish): ofrivilligforetagare.pdf.

Written by Karin Dalborg, Manager of Kulturverkstan, a Project Managament Training Programme within Culture, run by Nätverkstan.

19 mars, 2009

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Burning Platforms

The story tells that a man on an oilrig in the North Sea woke up from an explosion and as he stepped out fire caught up with him and he had to make a quick decision. He decided to jump into the water, although this option was in itself extremely risky. If he survived the jump, he would die within fifteen minutes in the cold water. He survived, and later when asked of his decision he said: ”better probable death than certain death”.

The story turned into a business term and was called ”Burning Platforms”, implying that people only change behavior radically due to terrible circumstances. Radical change in behavior only comes when survival instincts trump comfort zone instincts, it’s said, therefore leading changes in an organisation is easier if there is a sense of a ”Burning Platform”. Perhaps relevant for cultural entrepreneurs who has the sense of always working on Burning Platforms and fast changing circumstances?

At Krenova in Umeå, an incubator within art and culture, I suddenly hear the term. Anders Persson, Director, used it when talking about the incubator and described it as a way to work when building something.

”I use ‘Burning Platforms’ quite often when I am building something, like an activity or project. In short it’s a way to do your vision or idea so sharp, cool, relevant, fantastic, realistic, necessary – whatever you choose – that no-one can or want to resist it. Everyone wants to be on the platform, without really understand why. They want to be on board, whatever it takes. This is a way to shape the boarders of a project or business idea, giving you the possibility to work on the content within these boarders.”

At a seminar in Göteborg on 11th of March, on the topic ”Future Businessfield in Western Sweden” (Framtidens näringsliv i Västsverige), a man in the audience lifted the conception again. A presentation on the economic development in Sweden was done by Professor Lennart Schön from Economic History Department at Lund University. He showed that global economic crisis has been in forty years sequences, the ups and downs in the economy has come in regular periods of time and can perhaps be seen as recurring changes over years. The comment from the man in the audience was that renewal never happen if there are no sense of Burning Platforms. In a financial crisis it is, which forces renewal to happen.

So: What happens to a field that always has a sense of working on Burning platforms?

A short text on Umeå and Krenova can be found here. Information of ”Burning platforms” can be found on Policy Perspectives (from 2005), Problem-solving-techniques.com, and a story about leading change without a Burning platform can be found on the website Harvard Business Publishing.

12 mars, 2009

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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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