Posts with tag Artistic collective workshop

Future plans for Slum Drummers

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

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

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

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

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

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

The situation is both complex and difficult.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 september, 2014

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Desert AIR

Joshua Tree in Mojave Desert in California is said to be a real magnet for artists. The specific nature, light, calmness and wilderness attract artists from all over the world and if you are lucky, you could get on one of the Artist-In-Residence (AIR) programs offered. Imagine a house in the desert, a studio to work in, and vaste surroundings to be productive in…

American artist Noah Purifoy (1917–2004) was one of these artists, based in Los Angeles but decided to move to Joshua Tree in 1989. He is said to be one of the most profound Assemblage sculptors, was a founding member of the California Arts Council, founding member of Watts Towers Arts Center in the 1960s, and an administrator of the Artist in Communities Programs.

If you come to Joshua Tree, drive till the end of the paved Yucca Mesa Road, continue the dirt road, take a left on another dirt road, you finally see the small sign welcoming you to Noah’s Art Site, kept by Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum of Assemblage Sculpture.

Take a right and you are there. Noah Purifoy spent thirteen years to fill the ten acres of desert with his art work of assemblage sculptures of all types of materials. Around fifty pieces of work is placed around in the sand, among hot dry winds and wild chipmunks building their nests in the few bushes around.

You can see his work Earth Piece (1999) where he uses material from the ground, and From the point of view of the little people (1994) a work that is the result of his interest in how nature participates in and is intricate to the creative process and perhaps also from his own up-growing with a family of thirteen people in a two room flat.

In the mountain you see amazing granite rock formations, and the thoughts go to the granite rocks of the West Coast in Sweden, where artists have settled to work with stone sculpting, among many other materials, and as Noah Purifoy’s museum, struggle with being visable in the outskirts of the big cities.

For the West Coast of Sweden Artist Collective Workshop visit here. For Artists-In-Residence programs in Joshua Tree, visit here and here. If you are visiting the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Museum, make an appointment before hand on the website!

13 juli, 2014

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Art and culture in the periphery…

Take the tram fifteen minutes from the center of Göteborg – and you arrive in the periphery. At least that’s how many feel if you live in suburbs or areas around the city center.  Hammarkullen is one such area outside Göteborg and where many initiatives have started with the aim of bringing the art, culture, and social work done in the area into the spotlight.

Ten Russian visitors representing culture, art, business, and the authorities in St Petersburg is on a tour in Göteborg and Region Västra Götaland with the aim of discussing the role of art, culture, and social work in the rural areas and to address the question of the center versus periphery.

One stop has been meeting people in the area of Hammarkullen, with visits to different initiatives such as Hammarkullen365, Folkets Hus, and the local radio. Another Nätverkstan located in the city center, and then visits to the artistic workshop for sculpture, textile, ceramics, to artist Lukas Arons and his sculpture precincts, and Gerlesborgsskolan (School of Gerlesborg) along the coast-line. And today the visit is to the artistic collective Not Quite in the very small town of Fengersfors, a two and a half hours drive NorthEastly from Göteborg.

The visit was initiated by NGO Creative Project Kaykino in St Petersburg and is supported by the Nordic Culture Fund. Next step is to Stavanger in Norway, and the project ends with a seminar in St Petersburg in November.

See here a former post on the topic of center vs periphery

11 oktober, 2013

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Young Choreographers Platform

Did you know that in India hand movements are an important part of traditional and contemporary dance, expressing abstractions giving another dimension or parallel understanding to a story or performance? In European dance-tradition feet and foot movement have a central part, we are told. In a dance studio on Oskarsgatan in Göteborg today, dancers and choreographers from Bangalore (India) met professionals from Göteborg (Sweden) in a three-hour workshop. After warming up; experimenting with movements, traditions, experiences took place and ended in a twenty-minute lunch performance for invited guests.

The Bangalore-based Centre for Movement Arts, Attakkalari, is in West Sweden for a tour visit, and started with a full-length performance of Chronotopia at Vara Concert Hall. This was followed by a seminar on their research project and short performances of the choreographers and dancers at Museum of World Cultures in Göteborg. Then workshops with young dancers in Vara, with theatre students at the School of Music and Drama. And now they met with professional dancers and choreographers from Dansbyrån, a production platform for dance based in Göteborg run by the three choreographers Moa Matilda Sahlin, Marika Hedemyr, and Paula de Hollanda.

The idea of a Young Choreographers Platform where choreographers and dancers meet to work and build something together is an integral part of the work at Attakkalari in an ambition to continuously explore and experiment with movements and expression. A sort of lab of movements easily set up with dancers and choreographers from any part of the world if you just have a studio to work in. As Jay Palazhy, Artistic Director at Attakkalari once put it: “The beauty of collaboration is that it’s not about rationalizing. You don’t have to speak so much, just do it”.

The visit of Attakkalari is part of the agreement ”Linking Initiatives” between the region of Karnataka and Region Västra Götaland. Read former posts of the exchange project under India on this site.

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23 mars, 2010

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Irritated Material

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

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

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

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

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

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

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7 mars, 2010

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Art and entrepreneurs

Archana Prasad, an Artist in Bangalore, has been extremely active the last year. It started about a year ago when she was having her first single exhibition in Bangalore and confronted the lack of Art spaces. There was no good Art space around at a decent price. She had her exhibition, but out of the experience grew a drive to find solutions.

So she started, together with colleague-Artists, a series of initiatives. Jagaa, described in the former post, was one of them. What if you could build a movable Art space and use empty spaces in town to temporarily put it up? The solution was one architect with a piece of land and a construction-site solution of an open gallery. The construction fits into one container when taken down into pieces and takes about a day to put up.

Together with a collective of Artists, she started another gallery, Samuha, where they shared a space to put up exhibitions. Just recently the Artist Raghavendra Rao had an exhibition called ”Between Yes and No”, where poetry met performance and movement. Archana is also releasing a web-based journal starting next week, Art and the City, where the Art scene in different Indian cities will be analyzed.

Another interesting space is 1 Shanti Road, an Artist led initiative that is a venue for exhibitions, seminars, debate, space and incubator of experimentation of contemporary Art.

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7 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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Textile Cooperative ”Desi”, India

A full feast is going on as we arrive on India’s Independence Day, a day you do celebrate with taking the day off, saluting the Indian flag and having get togethers. August 15 is the day when India got their independence from British rule and became a sovereign state in 1947. Today everyone is dressed up in extra nice clothes, the flag is raised in the small flagpole, and the music is on.

At Desi, located near the village of Heggodu in Karnataka, they color cotton, weave and dye it, making beatiful textiles that are sewn into dresses, shirts, bags, towels and many other useful things. Around two hundred women and twenty men work here with an average salary of around 5-6 dollars a day. The cooperative is placed on a hillside, surrounded by the green jungle, and have several smaller houses together for the different stages of producing textiles; one house for sewing, one for dying the yarn, one for making patterns and drying, one for administration. You feel the Gandhi spirit as we are shown around, and even though we don’t see the spinning wheels you could feel their presence. Wings of history combined with modern times.

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19 augusti, 2009

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Cultural Center and Theatre in Heggodu

In 1945 dramatist K V Subbanna and his friends decided to start gatherings to share ideas and discuss politics. After Indian independence in 1947, they deepened their intellectual exchange and reflection, started a library, created the newspaper the Ashoka Weekly to spread news on events around India and, later, formed a local theatre group, Ninasam. In the 70s it grew into several different projects as the film society and in the 80s the Ninasam Theatre Institute with ambition to train young people in acting, lighting and directing. Plays put up can be of Karnataka writers as well as of Shakespeare and Brecht translated into Kannada, the language in the state of Karnataka. Today Ninasam is an active cultural centre, headed by Subbanas son K V Akshara. It’s based in the middle of the jungle, in the village Heggodu with around 1500 inhabitants. The library is still there, with an interesting mix of literature serving as base for research for new plays. The one-year diploma course in theatre work is an important part of the center, as well as set up plays engaging the local villagers, who are mostly farmers, in playwright and acting.

The same critical reflection and activist stance we meet when visiting theatre director, playwright, and poet Prasanna in his house. He is dividing his time between the isolation and quietness in his house, surrounded by a large garden with all different kinds of fruit and herbs and with only irregular electricity in the house, with work in the big metropolitan cities of India. His house is filled with books, the stillness is over-whelming; it’s as if you could hear the silence. And we discuss Swedish playwright, theatre and literature tradition. Culture has an amazing way of travelling across boarders, uniting people.

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18 augusti, 2009

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More traces of Chicago

Little Black Pearl, situated in Bronzeville south of Chicago, is a nonprofit organisation with ambition to create opportunities for young adults through Artistic and cultural work. In the Centre they can work in one of the many studios with wood, glass, painting, ceramics, run workshops or put up shows. Gwendolyn Pruitt, Director of Product Design, shows us around and tells us the story of this community based organisation with enthusiasm and passion. It’s both about what they achieve with the students, she shows an example of tables they did with beautiful mosiac cover on top, which they sell to customers. It can be anything. Their mission is to deepen the creative involvement through Arts, and learn how to run things. It’s also about the struggle of getting the budget to sum up in the end and the constant search for funding bodies, she tells us with a sigh. ”I found that I don’t have the time to teach them that personal component”, she tells us with referral to the young students. She finds it’s a great need to also teach teachers ”It’s a gap between the structure and the student”.

In 1974 a group of classmates at high school got together to set up a theatre play by Paul Zindel. Since they only had one semester left, it was not until they came to Illionis State University that the idea formed and they looked for a place to set it up. Their first production was played in a Church in Chicago, and since they at the time was reading the book ”Steppenwolf” by Herman Hesse, they named the theatre the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Today the theatre is a prestigous one on Halsted Street, with the ambition of advancing the vitality and diversity of American Theatre .

We see the play ”Up” by Bridget Carpenter of the man who once reached the sky, the clouds, in a chair with balloons, and could not let go of the idea of doing it again. In another machine he would build. His vision held him alive, this was his passion, while everyday life and the reality of having to pay bills at the end of the month was taken care of by his wife. Until the situation changed and the pressure of supporting the family came closer.  After the play there was an interesting discussion with the audience, reflections  showing how differently we interpreted the play. The discussions at the conference of Artists and entrepreneurship become very real in this beautiful and sad play of having dreams and struggling with reality.

The Art Institute in Chicago is impressive in many ways, but mainly and mostly of two things. The collection of Art they have is impressive, to say the least. In this institute you can see everything from American contemporary Art to the Impressionists, African to Asian Art, photography and industrial design. You can stay days in there. Secondly it’s free for the public after five pm Thursdays and Fridays. The Institute and its collections are open and accessible for the public, something that seems in line with the attitude of giving Art and culture a central role in Chicago.

The study to  Chicago is part of the conference ”Creative Entrepreneurship and Education in Cultural Life”, held in Chicago on July 16–18 2009, organized by Columbia College Chicago and Encatc.

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19 juli, 2009

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Trans-Racial Institute

Maybe you are actually white, even if your skin is black? Maybe you were born Chinese, but come to think of it you are really a Swede? Perhaps the color of your skin deceives your real identity? Are you who you think you are?

The Trans-Racial Institute is a project, a workshop, an Institute, working with issues of race and identity. You get a chance to become the race you actually are, through a workshop find the real you. As they put it themselves ”Your desire – our mission”. The project is developed by Max Valentin, an inventor and entrepreneur, and Yolanda de los Bueis, a Basque video Artist based in London. Max Valentin is also running the consultancy firm Fabel, based in Stockholm. Their mission is to help organizations to develop and design methods and processes to put light on and affect people’s attitudes and values.

The next Trans-Racial Institute workshop will be in Israel in August. Have a look at these two clips from Shanghai (China) and Graz (Austria).

10 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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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. Last day.

Art Villa Garikula is a contemporary Art center, placed in a village around one hour drive from Tbilisi. In the lack of infrastructure, Artist unions, and of space for Artistic work in the cities, Artists and curators try to fill this gap by taking initiatives and run projects. Many small projects start, to research, investigate to try to understand how to move in this new era, how to change.

The center is not a small project. It’s a big main building and a smaller one next to it, in constant need of renovation. A lot has been done already. There are bedrooms and studios, and a large garden to use for Artistic work, tenting or putting up exhibitions. And having parties. Art students and professional Artists come from the city to explore work forms and expressions, or for just relaxing. A new Georgian utopia is needed – Art Villa Garikula is where this new utopia will be formed, they tell us.

The visit to Georgia is part of the project EKAE 2009. People from Art, film, literature, publishing, cultural journals, education and crafts in Sweden and Georgia have met during a week in Tbilisi, having working meetings to form mutual project ideas within each area. The projects are planned to run during 2009-2010. Read more in posts May 12, May 11, May 9, and March 10.

Read also the article ”Crunch time in the Southern Caucasus”, written by Ivan Sukhov, Journalist at the Moscow newspaper Vremya Novostei, published at the OpenDemocracy website.

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13 maj, 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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Skifte – Reflections around work and everyday life

How do we look at work and employment? What is our relationship to working? How does time linger after people left? How do our perception and dreams change as we grow up? Are we prepared to do anything to reach our goals? What is meaningful work?

Skifte is a collective digital exhibition with filmmakers, animators, photographers, artists and poets, who all reflect on the theme work. Nine pieces showing different aspects and expressions, putting forward questions rather than answers. The exhibition is part of Medieverkstäderna i Väst, a collective of digital workshops in Region Västra Götaland, where members are visual artists, editors, photographers, poets and film makers.

Curator has been Stina Karlsdóttir Vestrin, who is also a student at Kulturverkstan. In the folder coming with the exhibition she writes:

”The fact that our work is one of the things forming us, building our identity and creating a community in a social context, we can all agree on, work is a central part of our lives. I would like, with this exhibition, to do some pounces in everyday working life and lift reflections around its structure. What is a job? What is a good job? Why do we work and what makes an honourable day’s work? The same occupation can in some cases be a job and in others not. In today’s society it’s more and more important to be adaptable and flexible on a more and more demanding labour market at the same time as the boarders between working life and leisure is erased. Working conditions is  constantly shifting and each time as its problems to solve.

The war of ants has disappeared from our TVs. The digital era has its own noise, its own war, other ants. Internet is today an obvious part of labour market. Fifteen years ago you hardly knew what it was, yet it has since changed labour for many people all over the world. It also affects those workers who don’t have access to computers. A shift has taken place. Changes can sneak on you slowly without us understanding a shift is on its way. What happens to our jobs? The new is growing out of the old, breaking out from it, against it, want to be free. It is in this contradiction that we find other ways and tramp our own tracks.”

The exhibition will be touring in Region Västra Götaland and is on Internet 25 of April to 24 of May 2009. Look at www.skifte.se and click for English. Download (in Swedish) the catalogue here: skifte_katalog.

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27 april, 2009

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Monumentalverkstan in Malmö

Sweden has since the 70s a series of smaller and larger artistic collective workshops (Konstnärernas kollektivverkstäder) around the country. These were mainly formed and run – and still are – by artists to let available the expensive machines and large working areas needed to do Artwork within for example sculpturing, graphic arts, bronze, ceramics, textile. Much of Sweden’s public art have been done in one of these workshop areas.

Since the seventies society has changed drastically and funders are putting more and more pressure on these workshops to professionalize, more effectively use of the often large localities they have and add other services. An interesting dilemma appears. These localities are formed to let the large monumental Artistic work take form and the administration is run on a volunteer basis, with small income from funders. In Malmö the collective of Artists have thought differently, though, and started a process of renewal and change, where Kristian Körner, Artist and President in the board of Monumentalverkstan describes the double role of the collective:

”As an Artist I work individually and the whole point is that I decide what, when and how an Art work is to be presented. This is an inward way of working and needs to be this. The collective, on the other hand, can be open and think differently. A collective is formulating the interest of a whole profession, not the individual.”

On the meeting in Malmö, KKV Textiltryck, KKV Grafik and Plan3 participated. It was a network-meeing between the collective workshops in Skåne and the funders Region Skåne and Malmö Stad. Nätverkstan and the overview of the Artistic collective workshops in Sweden, commissioned by Stiftelsen framtidens kultur (The Foundation for the Culture of the Future, and performed by Nätverkstan was presented.

3 april, 2009

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Research of new music expressions

New Opera Co just had the opening of ”Vi i villa”, a newopera where the group use the classical form of an opera and turn it into a modern drama. Is it possible to use an everyday, very basic and realistic, dialogue in an opera? How do you create a libretto, together in the ensemble, how do you act and how do you produce? The questions was a 4-viv-foto-erika-von-weissenberg.jpgdrive for New Opera Co to explore and start, as they describe it, a phase of research and collective process in terms of ideas, performance, text and music. The result is a beautiful and creative performance that shows a new form of expression and gives an idea of what a modern opera could be. The stage is simple, a rehearsing room with just black chairs and four glasses. Scenery is projected on the wall and the dialogue, sung by the actors and actresses, is about ordinary things in the relationship between two people.

The performance was built in quite an interesting process, where the group combined working together with the whole ensemble, included actors, director, technicians, musicians, dancers, with times of concentration where the composer have built the text and the music on his own. In between, the parts that was ready, was performed and showed in front of an audience. This gave the composer an idea of how the text needed to be built and the song had to be sung to work. It’s quite a similar process, and way of thinking, as the one described at Pixar Animation Studios, where the storyboard continuously was showed to an audience and reactions taken into account in the building of a film (look here to read about our visit to Pixar Animation Studios).

”Vi i villa” is performed at the performance stage Atalante in Göteborg. Also look at trailers at http://www.atalante.org/viivilla/.

27 september, 2008

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Innovation and gaps

Everything in Turkey is self-organised from low to top level, from artist to the state” an artist tells us with a sigh. The biggest challenge in Istanbul for artists today is sustainability. Economic sustainability. There is no public funding for art and no social welfare system for artists. The art space we are shown by two artists, is only very temporary, they use it for free until the landlord needs it. With other jobs _mg_4893p.jpgon the side they can pay their living costs, but their main focus and identity is the artistic work. They do projects that in the local context both educate an audience for contemporary art and stress the situation for the artists and society. They are pushing limits, putting forward issues ignored by political structures and exploring phenomena in society.

Many of the artists we meet talk about their extremely difficult situation. There is no infrastructure for art and culture. There is hardly an audience. This needs to be educated along the way. Most cultural initiatives that find economic support, do this among private money. Everything from small projects to the new Istanbul Modern Museum is supported by private money. There is no infrastructure – and there is no control. Unless, of course, you do something in the borderline of Turkish law saying that you are not allowed to offend the nation of Turkey or the ”Turkishness”. Many authors are still today, 2008, prosecuted according to this law.

Urban growth in Istanbul exploded after the 1950s and has created an organic growth of the city – something that must be every city planners’ nightmare. What was a few years ago small cities in the periphery of Istanbul, is today part of the city. It puts pressure on the infrastructure where public transport, shops, medical care need to be built in order to be in reach for all citizens. Around seventy percent of all buildings in Istanbul are either illegal or partly illegal constructions, we are told. Each year half a million people decide to move to Istanbul to look for jobs or change their lives. To try to count all inhabitants is impossible, figures _mg_5179.JPGvaries from an official 10 million people to a more unofficial number of around 20 million people. There is a lack of basic infrastructure in society and it’s definitely lacking for artists and cultural entrepreneurs.

Cultural innovation grows in gaps in society. Where there are rapid changes, unfixed structures, there are room for entrepreneurs. The economist Joseph Schumpeter called this “creative destruction”; when old structures are destroyed, new things grow. He even said that old structures need to be destroyed, to let new ideas, knowledge and structures grow. Entrepreneurs are essential; people open to change, with a creative drive and visionary ideas. People that do the unexpected and push traditional limits. Like the artists we meet in Istanbul.

What is the connection between Schumpeter’s theory of creative destruction and the artistic entrepreneurs in Istanbul? If cultural entrepreneurship is part of building a society in transformation, what infrastructure is needed to support this? What decisions need to be made by politicians? Creative industries are widely considered as a driving force for transformation of rundown cities. But not much is done. As Dr Justin O’Connor in Leeds (UK) say ”…scratch the surface and it becomes clear that very few policymakers are paying proper attention to the health of the sector – an attitude that may have direct economic consequences”.

The seminars and study visits in Istanbul, Turkey, in February 2008, was part of the Nomadic University, Nurope. Istanbul was the fifth oasis. Information is found on: www.nurope.eu. Photos taken by Reino Koivula, Turku, Finland.

The quote from Dr Justin O’Connor is found in ”Creative cities. The role of creative
Industries in regeneration”. Renewal Intelligence Report, Northwest, April 2006.

10 april, 2008

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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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