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”There is a shift in the balance of power”, says Tyler Stonebreaker, founder of Creative Space, ”Political boundaries are becoming less relevant. Instead it’s where the audience is”. And Los Angeles, described as one of three hubs of the creative industries in the USA, has this.
”We have content”, as Tyler Stonebreaker puts it, and sips on his Macchiato at Stumptown Coffee on South Santa Fe Avenue in the Arts District. The Coffee brewery is one of the projects Creative Space has been working with, helping them establish in L.A.
The Arts District has grown to become a thriving interesting hub for cultural and creative businesses in the past twenty years or so.
It’s an area that has changed over time from the middle of 1800s when it was the largest producer of wine in California; to become citrus groves and home for filmmaker DW Griffith who filmed parts of the first Hollywood films here; to by World War II becoming factories for the rail freight industry.
In 1960s and 70s artists moved in to the then abandoned industry buildings, something acknowledged by the City of Los Angeles who in 1981 passed the Artist in Residence (AIR) program which let artists live and work in these buildings.
We know this story. It’s seen in so many places around the world: abandoned factory and industry buildings turning into hubs, clusters, artistic residencies, that if rightly nurtured by the public officials can become an important drive for economy. Or at least that’s what politicians hope for. Thriving cities and regions that will be able to take up the competition of interest from tourists, being the place where people choose to live, and where entrepreneurs and the big enterprises decide to settle.
But can you decide to nurture this development? Or is it better for governmental authorities to keep their hands off and let things grow on their own?
British consultant Paul Owens once described art and culture growing like algae. They grow where you least suspect them to, where you don’t even would like them to grow, and they can’t really be nurtured. The best is to just keep hands off and let it grow as wild – and sometimes unwanted – as any weed.
It’s contradictory and for municipality and regional politicians and officials today’s million dollar question: How do you best nurture cultural and creative industries?
In the later years the interest for cultural and creative industries has grown in Los Angeles and a sense that these industries and their economic potential needs to be acknowledged more. The Otis report on the Creative Economy (2013) shows that one out of seven jobs in Los Angeles County and Orange County are related to Creative industries, it’s 1,4 million jobs in the state of California that are within the Creative Industries, and 7,4% of California’s Gross State Product.
Read also the report ”LA Creates. Supporting the Creative Economy in Los Angeles” by Keith McNutt: LA CREATES.
The Slöjd Incubator, the incubator for handicraft started as a pilot project by the public authority the National Swedish Handicraft Council, has now finished it’s first round.
Hopefully the pilot project will be prolonged. Participants were very happy to have a chance to develop their ideas around their art and how to live on their art, and the process has been working well as a complement to their university studies within in art, design, and craft.
Ten participants now finished the process and on the final seminar a few of them got a chance to tell their experience for a larger invited audience. On this seminar Nätverkstan presented it’s survey and final report on the incubator.
The final semester of the two-year International Culture Project Management Training Program, Kulturverkstan, youdo an internship at an cultural och social organization, or run your own project. The internship is prepared thoroughly with planning classes and where you decide a theme or question you would like to look into during the internship.
This adds up to a public presentation in the end of the semester with invited guests, discussion partners and (or) opponents. This year’s addition of the presentations held the same high quality as last year, with interesting topics such as Cultural Heritage and Digitization; Food Trucks’ introduction to Göteborg; Art, status, and conditions; The concept
of class – is this still relevant?; Alternative forms of exhibitions; and many more (read more here).
The last thing to do is Wednseday’s graduation party and then we will meet 35 new excellent Cultural Project Managers out there!
Categories: Art Art and Business Artistic practice Blogg Creative Industries Creative spaces Cultural Journals Cultural Policy Democracy Digitization Distribution Economy Education Entrepreneurship Innovation Kulturverkstan Seminar
Within a week, three seminars has taken place in Göteborg and Stockholm with the ambition to bring knowledge and perspectives on cultural policy, cultural and creative industries, and the myth of the creative city.
To begin with the last.
Justin O’Connor, Professor at Monash University in Australia and the authority on cultural and creative industries, did a quick stop in Göteborg on his way to Stockholm to talk about Cultural Economy and Cultural Citizenship. Beyond the Creative City. Göteborg is one of all the European cities being promoted as the ”creative” city and the ”most creative region” in Sweden, eagerly cheered by the American economic’s Professor Richard Florida during his visit in 2006 when he identified Göteborg and Sweden to be a role-model of creativity and innovation.
Interesting since at the same time Göteborg is one of the most segregated cities in Europe, something that seemed to have slipped away from the Professor’s research.
Justin O’Connor said three things to be important:
1) Reinstall the value of art and culture and move away from ”creativity”,
2) Don’t run away from economics! Culture is part of the economy. Don’t leave it for others to handle and do not escape by saying economy is only for Neo-liberalists, and
3) The public space is for all. It’s time to reinstall Cultural Citizenship.
Cultural and Creative industries was in focus in Stockholm when Professors Justin O’Connor and Birgit Mandel, from Hildesheim University in Germany, discussed CCI – and beyond. Are we seeing the end of CCI? Or is it time for a revived understanding of the concept? Where are the artists in the discussion of CCI?
And the message was clear: Drop ”creativity”. This has only messed up the discussion. Go back to cultural economy. Discuss and define economy from the perspective of the arts and culture.
And today, lastly, a day with focus on cultural policy on the regional level of Region Västra Götaland tossing and turning on Whose Culture? Whose Plans? Whose Money? The seminar ended with politicians answering questions on what they think is the most important cultural policy question that they will bring to this year’s election. Participation, inclusive culture, culture to children and youngsters, integration was some of the answers.
The most important words, though, were said by Poetry Slam Winner Nino Mick, who summarized hen’s impressions during the day in a poetic reading that went straight into the heart.
The Göteborg event with Justin O’Connor is found here.
The invitation to the seminar in Stockholm: KN_Seminarieinbjudan_pdf.
The Cultural Policy day here.
Categories: Art Art and Business Artistic practice Blogg Creative Industries Creative spaces Cultural Policy Culture-led Development Democracy Economy Education Entrepreneurship International Leadership Literature Regional Development Seminar
Two of the leading authorities on cultural industries, Justin O’Connor from Monash University (Australia) and Birgit Mandel from Hildesheim University (Germany) are visiting Stockholm and the Arts Grants Committee on Tuesday (April 29) for an open seminar on the future of CCI.
A few years ago, Konstnärsnämnden (The Swedish Arts Grants Committee) published the anthology “Artists and the Arts Industries” with a view to highlighting cultural Industries from the artists’ viewpoint.
Previously, these industries had mainly been described and elaborated by economists and cultural geograph ers, by business developers and public officials. With the help of five foreign and Swedish professors, artists and cultural critics, a deeper perspective was adopted: Did for instance the discussion on creative industries have an impact on the arts field itself – and if so, how? In what respects was the discussion relevant to the artists?
Are we witnessing the end of cultural and creative industries or are we at the beginning of some thing new? If you are in Stockholm, or happen to pass – join the discussion!
Invitation to the seminar is here: Seminarinvitation.pdf.
Categories: Art and Business Artistic practice Blogg Creative Industries Creative spaces Cultural Policy Culture-led Development Digitization Economy Education Entrepreneurship Germany International Seminar
It’s complex and easy to get entagled along never-ending blind discussion- alleys with no emergency exit. The result being that the important discussion on cultural entrepreneurship and the possibilities for artists to live on their art is lost.
Nätverkstan, with author David Karlsson, has together with Region Västra Götaland tried to untangle some of these knots by producing this Questions&Facts booklet.
It’s formed as a quick guide with focus on cultural entrepreneurship. Not art. Not business. But art and business.
Download here: How_long_is_a_piece_of_string.pdf
Professor Justin O’Connor will soon host Göteborg and Stockholm discussing cultural and creative industries and the myth of the creative city.
In 2007, Professor Justin O’Connor wrote the report The cultural and creative industries: a review of the literature for the University of Leeds that might be useful background for the eager participant.
Are we in the moment of time where a need for ”a refusal of creativity and its illusions in a spirit Adorno would recognise” and maybe ”creativity” is the problem? Will the underlying tensions in the cultural industries between capitalism and cultural value call for another understanding of the concept?
Read more here: oconnor_justin_cultural-creative-industries-15.pdf.
This is some of the content…
”Since the 1980s cities have used art and culture to promote their image, regenerate older districts, attract tourists and creative professionals, and latterly, rolled into the creative industries as a new dynamic economic sector. There is no doubting the contribution all these approaches have made to the transformation of the urban landscape. But they have also provoked a growing crisis as to what exactly is the value of culture? Distinctions have been made between ‘intrinsic’ and ‘instrumental’ value; or different levels of cultural, social, economic and environmental ‘impact’; or even new kinds of ‘public value’ measures which use quasi-markets to valuate cultural assets of programs. A great many policy documents have used these and other models to try to ”fix” the value of culture for public policy.
This talk attempts to sidestep these debates by revisiting, first, the idea of cultural citizenship and second, that of cultural economy. I will suggest that these two ideas should not be separated into the socio-cultural and the economic but need to be combined in a new agenda for urban cultural policy.”
Check the event on Facebook. The seminar is possible thanks to Göteborgs Kulturförvaltning (City of Göteborg, Cultural Department), Frilagret, Konstnärsnämnden (the Swedish Arts Grants Committee), and Nätverkstan.
Etiketter:Artist, Artistic practice, Creative Industries, Creativity, Cultural economy, Cultural Journal, Cultural Policy, Cultural Project, Democracy, Economy, Entrepreneur, Globalization, International exchange, Social entrepreneur
In the middle of the roaring debate on the future of Lagerhuset, the Warehouse, a building in central Göteborg housing small-scale independent cultural organizations, publishers, and cultural journals, the digital journal Alba and Tidskriftsverkstan i Väst arranged a debate on cultural policy in the House of Literature (located in Lagerhuset).
It couldn’t be better timing.
But let’s start from the beginning. The old warehouse built in beginning of 1900 was for a long time a toll free warehouse for goods stored waiting for taxation to continue into the city. The building was then empty for a long time but in 1999 a group of small-scale publishers moved in together with Nätverkstan, Tidskriftsverkstan i Väst, the journals Ord&Bild, Glänta, and Paletten.
Other small businesses moved in, such as photographers, psychologists, architects, and editors.
In 2013 Frilagret started its cultural space for young people with dialogue processes and an active group of young cultural-interested people setting the agenda, an organization owned by the municipality. In October the same year the House of Literature opened its doors for readings, discussions on literature, space for writing, debates and discussions with authors, another of the municipality owned activities in the building.
And in March 2014 it was clear that the landlord, another part of the municipality, their own real-estate company Higab is chock-raising the rent for those in the house negotiating their contracts. One publishing house is leaving already in June.
The cluster of small-scale cultural organizations and entrepreneurs has taking long to create. And it can be destroyed in a second. No one can afford 30-35% higher rent.
With one hand the municipality is investing in a cultural house, while the other is pulling the rug under the feet of all the cultural organizations already in the building.
Of all the seminars, conferences, public debates and discussions on the cultural and creative city over the last ten years, Higab must have missed them all.
And they missed yesterday’s debate as well. Where are they? Are they at all concerned of the context and society they work in?
Categories: Art and Business Artistic practice Blogg Creative Industries Creative spaces Cultural Journals Cultural Policy Culture-led Development Economy Entrepreneurship Innovation Literature Medialab Music Nätverkstan Regional Development
Etiketter:Artist, Artistic practice, Creative Industries, Creativity, crisis, Cultural economy, Cultural Policy, Cultural Project, Development, Economy, Education, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Literature, Renewal, Social entrepreneur
Is there a need for a joint Capacity Building program within Art and Entrepreneurship on the regional level in East Africa, driven and run by the cultural field? If so, what could a program look like?
Those have been questions discussed on the second meeting with representatives from cultural organizations as well as artists from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda. The meeting in Kampala on March 6–9, included several large questions.
What kind of competence building is needed among artists and cultural organizations? Is the perspective of livelihood a useful one? What are points of similarities in the context and cultural scene in the different countries, and what are the differences?
Three intense conference-days, with visits of cultural organizations in Kampala, ended in the conclusion that this process, discussion, and concrete ideas need to continue.
Three concrete points already happening is:
1) the GoDown Arts Centre start a term 1 course in Creative Entrepreneurship in May.
2) it might be possible to hold a facilitators’ course and training-for-trainers with regional partners sometime between May and August,
3) another meeting on the East Africa level will be held, probably in August, this time hosted by either Tanzania or Rwanda and with local artists invited.
On the meeting in Uganda artists within performing arts, writing, and visual art was participating, as well as representatives from Bayimba Cultural Foundation (Uganda), Femrite (Uganda), 32°East (Uganda), Autumn Ventures Africa (Uganda), MUDA (Tanzania), Ishyo Arts Centre (Rwanda).
The meeting is part of the project ”East Africa Capacity Building Program for Creative Entrepreneurs and Artists” funded mainly by the Swedish Institute and is a cooperation between GoDown Arts Centre (Kenya) and Nätverkstan (Sweden).
Etiketter:Artist, Artistic practice, Creative Industries, Creativity, Cultural economy, Cultural Policy, Cultural Project, Development, Economy, Education, Entrepreneurship, International exchange, Literature
What does the Norwegian author Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906) have to do with Crowdfunding?
This week when Max Valentin, founder and CEO of the Swedish crowd funding platform Crowdculture, gave a lecture at the International Culture Project Management education Kulturverkstan, this is what it looked like.
Perhaps it was due to the fact that Ibsen earned his main income from performing rights, which gave – according to Wikipedia – around 3.357 euro in yearly income in 1899.
In 1898 he had a top yearly income of 9.983 euro, of these 8.469 euro was money from the rights of his collected works.
On the other hand, this doesn’t say much about funding by crowd funding…
Kulturverkstan invites professionals within art and culture, business and corporate field, voluntary and societal organizations; project managers, artists, professors, directors, officials, and many others during the education to always have the voice of practice within the education. During the two years the education lasts, a wide range of people have been invited who also serve as a good network for the students after examination.
High voices are raised in Sweden with pros and cons on the CCI – but few have checked any facts or bothered to do analytical distinctions before continuing an agitated talk.
Now the Region of Västra Götaland has published a small booklet written by David Karlsson at Nätverkstan with answers and questions on CCI in a try to sort things out a bit. The intriguing title is: How long is a piece of string?
In Swedish, but an English version is perhaps on it’s way. Download here: Hur långt är ett snöre.pdf.
During some winter months Nätverkstan, together with Sture Carlsson who is former CEO of the Göteborg Symphony Orchestra, Swedish Performing Arts and more, have dug deep into the situation of Wermland Opera.
Opera is probably the most expensive art form and operas around Europe are facing the same problem: increasing costs and lowered or stagnant public funding.
In many countries in Europe the tradition is to put a high degree of public funding into opera and concert halls. Today the situation is changing and for Italian opera houses – the cradle of the art form – the situation is acute. The accumulated deficit for Italian opera houses is enormous 300 million euro.
Wermland Opera, a small opera house situated in Karlstad in Region Värmland, is no exception. Although already getting a relatively large amount of the regional cultural budget (72%), the reality is that they have had to cut in expenses (mainly staff and productions).
Wermland Opera has showed impressive artistic results in its productions. In 2011 they put up the full Wagner Ring trilogy – something even large opera houses find challenging – a production that caused ripples far outside of Värmland with Wagner fans from all over the world traveling to the city and the national press praising the effort.
The opera house has managed to show high artistic quality opera in a small format, something that perhaps can be described as a new model of working for small opera houses with relatively limited budgets in Europe.
But they also face challenges. They can’t cut more in the economy without endangering the artistic quality. At the same time, getting such a high amount of the regional cultural budget as they do, leaving crumbles for other cultural initiatives, they also have a large responsibility. They need to open up for cooperations and to a larger degree see themselves a regional cultural resource.
Read articles in Swedish Television Värmlandsnytt, Swedish radio P4 Värmland or download the following articles here: Articles_WO.pdf. Read also the article ”The End of Italian Opera: Will They Wait for the Fat Lady to Sing?” in Newsweek. Read related post here.
DIY (Do It Yourself) is almost like an invitation, a command, to not sit around and wait for things to happen. Instead: Take Action!
Meet up with colleagues, experts, friends, academia, practice, interested folks; create a space, combine your expertise, and solve a problem, found a new idea or make innovations.
DIY Days Gothenburg, taking place this week (18-26th of January), is full of creation, ideas, hot spots, talks, and exchanges. It’s an interesting combination of low thresholds, an open and inviting attitude, and a willingness to share.
The goal is set high: How do we create a sustainable city for the future?
Described under the theme ”Future Cities – Sustainable and Playful Design with focus on Water” people pitch in their ideas such as Tikitut, the community-based tourism or Halo, working on sustainable architecture, or the mix between Hackathons, game industry meet ups, world cafés, crowdfunding, and mentorships and advice.
So take action and pay a visit!
After about one and half hours with bus from St Petersburg on the highway towards Estonia we arrive in the small town of Kaykino. Here Olga Gracheva, former fashion designer and now project manager and business consultant, and Victor Grachev, a sculptor, have decided to live and be part of working for a lively and interesting society in rural areas.
Their home is their project. From the house and garden cultural projects are created, ideas developed, and sculptures formed by artistic hands in material such as stone, wood, metal.
And they involve their neighbours, the children’s culture school, the Agriculture College, and others in Kaykino. It’s about involvement and creating possibilities, because the simple fact is that agriculture is dying and young people move to the big cities.
During a four day visit to St Petersburg, we spend a lot of time discussing what this means. We meet with the Art Academy (Stieglitz), Kuryokhin Center, and the Children’s Culture School in Kaykino as well as the Agriculture College.
The visit was initiated by NGO Creative Project Kaykino in St Petersburg and is supported by the Nordic Culture Fund and included invited guests from Not Quite, Tou Scene (Stavanger), StoneZone, and Nätverkstan. The visit ended with a seminar with invited authorities, a report will be written as the end of this exchange project. A former post you find here.
Sarah Thelwall, a UK consultant on cultural entrepreneurship, took a deep dive into small arts organizations’ difficulties to communicate the value they contribute to society – a value that is rarely counted in profit or money, but in other things.
It’s a difficulty art organizations over the world can recognize.
Put any cultural organization next to statistic measurements, economic outcome, and evaluations with a quantative focus, and culture comes short. So how do you measure intrinsic value?
Many of us within culture are already initiated, we know the value but come short in describing it. It’s like the Swedish artist Staffan Hjalmarsson once said about the lack of measurement methods for culture,: it’s five squares of sorrow. It referred to a report by the Region Västra Götaland where the consultants had evaluated the work within the region’s five focus areas. The other focus areas had facts and figures, but culture glowed all empty and became according to Hjalmarsson: Five squares of sorrow.
Riksutställningar, The Swedish Exhibition Agency, decided to pick up this dilemma of showing the value of culture and has put focus on this during 2013 in seminars and discussions.They have invited Sarah Thelwall to talk about her report and discuss with others in two larger events: Supermarket 2013 in February and now Samtidskonstdagarna in Göteborg on October 18–20.
She wrote the report on commission of Common Practice, an organization based in London and with the aim to focus on small art organizations’ situation.
Riksutställningar translated, in cooperation with Nätverkstan, some of her work into Swedish in a book that just came from the printing presses. Everything to bring light and perspectives on the continuous discussion on describing the value of art for others than those already initiated.
Read also this blogpost on the same book (in Swedish).
First gathering of the Culture Incubator after Summer breaks started today with focus on relationship building and marketing your project idea. Invited guest was freelancer David Andréas, now working as Art Director at an agency in Göteborg.
The Cultural Incubator is a project run by Nätverkstan, which is part of the larger project called Projekt Utveckling Nordost (Development North East), and aims to support people with ideas. The selected eighteen people come in with their ideas and over a six month period they get a chance to develop these to be more sustainable.
The project started in beginning of the year, and the development of each of the different ideas is really exciting. In November all projects are presenting their ideas for a larger audience of decision makers, representatives from the authorities, and other stakeholders.
Read more here.
With his interest in territory and cultural heritage, artistic director Christophe Guiho wanted to create an organization with this specific focus. Territoires Imaginaires started in July 2012, is based in Nantes (France), and around one year later the project La Nuit des Pêcheries took place.
The idea is simple and inviting. Along the Atlantic coast on the west coast of France you find small private fishing huts, pêcheries, placed on poles a bit out in the water due to the tide. The huts are private and walking a bit out on the bridge, you are met by a locked door. For the owner it’s an enjoyable asset, overlooking the ocean where you quietly roll down the fishing nets and wait for your catch. The public in general has no access and usually these huts have been inherited within the families. No new ones are aloud to be put up.
With the project, Christophe Guiho wanted to make this heritage sitting along the coastline accessible and opened up for the public. He worked together with artists to make art installations in each of six fishing huts.
More than 1500 people gathered on the opening night on the hills overlooking the huts, enjoying music event and visiting the art installations. He did this project with little money and with mainly his own drive, energy, and a successful project as payment.
Another project in Nantes over the summer is Le Voyage Nantes, run between June to September and with a much larger budget. During 2013 Nantes is The Green Capital and to celebrate this, the city has decided to each summer fill the city and its surroundings with artistic interventions.
Over forty interventions in just the city of Nantes, with artists such as Daniel Buren, La Machine, Jean Jullien, Mathias Delplanque, and Chinese artist Huang Yong Ping. A green line is put in the pavement and is easy to follow around the city and Ile-de-Nantes to find each of these grand, imaginary, humoristic, and serious interventions. It’s by no means touched up, many pieces poses relevant questions and raises reflections.
And for the city of Nantes this has become a success. Visitors are many, and children and adults can enjoy the happening such as joining the enormous elephant created by La Machine for a tour on Ile-de-Nantes.
Yet critical voices are heard. It doesn’t have to be a contradiction between a city’s will to create big events and the on-going small-scale cultural organizations’ every-day struggle to create art with little money in their pockets. Unfortunately it often is.
A wise cultural policy that both enjoy the small-scale initiatives and the large events is wanted!
It takes a bit of driving around to find Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemoráneo, (CAAC) which is a bit strange since it is an old monastery and a quite specific place. It’s situated in the centre of Seville, but still outside. As the gallerist Julio Criado put it during our visit in his gallery later the same day: It’s actually very central but often perceived as being outside of the city.
It’s on the other side of the river Guadalquivir and in the very same area that 1992 hosted the Universal Exposition of Seville (Expo ’92), an Expo of 215 hectares land and with 41 million visitors between April to October. The signs left now are – what seems for us as we drive around looking for the monastery – empty buildings and fenced areas. And behind white steel rods around the monastery and its gardens, we finally find it.
CAAC opened in 1998 in Monasterio de Santa María de las Cuevas with the aim of being a place devoted for Andalusian contemporary art. Art tradition in Seville, we are told, is that many artists are painters and within the Baroque tradition. The 80s is described as an interesting period in Seville, where the art scene (at least this is one way of understanding this period) hooked on to the era and buzz around film-maker Pedro Almodóvar and his often both provocative and controversial films on topics around sex and violence, religion and people in the margins of society. CAAC is aiming to put such an art discussion back on the agenda.
Walking around the garden, you see this ambition in the interesting, humouristic, and yet serious art interventions placed around the precincts. The Bus stop by Pedro Mora, Alicia by Cristina Lucas, and As a monument to the Artist by Curro Gonzales, are among some of them; the last one being an ironic commentary on the controversy around artists since Romanticism – and a very current such. In the temporary exhibition inside, Chilean performance artist Lotty Rosenfeld, stands out.
Luisa Espino, Coordinator of Exhibitions, tells us about the ambitious program, with temporary and permanent exhibitions, educational programs, music and art in the garden, seminars and conferences, and not least the publications 11 to 21 on the themes of the conferences and exhibitions.
Unfortunately CAAC has seen severe cuts in funding due to the Spanish economic situation that makes it difficult to keep the high ambition. The publications have, as a consequence, been closed down. For now, that is. The hopes are to be able to pick it up again. But the cuts are a bit like stepping back in time. A bit like being back on square one where it all started.
Gallerist and owner of the Gallery Alarconcridao, Julio Criado, talks about the art situation from another perspective.
Interestingly, the gallery is just one street from the famous bull arena in central Seville, Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza. Cultural heritage right next door to the new upcoming artists. Julio Criado sees an art market in change, where you have to find other ways than the traditional to find the buyers and the market. Also the artistic scene is changing, where a fairly traditional art education is not educating the most interesting artists. Instead he finds the most interesting work done by artists educated within other disciplines.
The first photo: Alicia by Cristina Lucas. The second: As a monument to the Artist by Curro Gonzales. Listen to the fanfare in the last piece here: artist fanfare. The last piece is the Bus Stop by Pedro Mora.
”We” in this blog are a group of five educators, consultants, and actor within art, entrepreneurship, art management from Germany, Austria, UK and Sweden, who formed a small think tank a few years ago to meet once a year and exchange experiences and ideas. This year a smaller group of three of us met in Seville on July 12–16. During the meetings we discuss, have workshops, exchange ideas, meet people within arts and culture, and just enjoy ourselves.
The last issue of the Economist (June 15–21st) brings up the topic of the tremendous cuts in art funding that we’ve seen in UK the last few years.
The viewpoint in the article is from Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, an art centre opened in 2002 in one of the abandoned mills along the river Tyne in NorthEast England. The Baltic was a former flour mill opened in the 1950s and closed in 1981. The transformation to a significant art center was led by (Swedish) founding director Sune Nordgren and cost 50 million pounds, money coming from mainly the National Lottery Fund, Arts Council, the region, and European Union.
We’ve seen it in many places all around Europe and elsewhere; industrial ruins become art centres, galleries, art studios, incubators within arts and culture.
The Italian Professor of Cultural Economics (IULM University, Milan), Pier Luigi Sacco, calls this process by a name: Culture-led local development processes or System-Wide Cultural Districts. He uses Newcastle as one example of culture-led local development processes in is his paper Culture as an Engine of Local Development Processes: System-Wide Cultural Districts (2008).
P L Sacco argues that art and culture is an important base for local development. If the right energy and mix of cross-boarder cooperation from the cultural scene, business community, authorities, and money are there, a positive local development can take place.
But as the article in Economist notes, it’s hard to measure the payback of money spent on art and culture, and it’s difficult to justify art spending to the larger group of tax payers.
”The truth is that the economic value of art is often as hard to quantify as its social or aesthetic benefits. That makes it vulnerable to cuts in tough times”, the article argues.
UK is one of the European countries that has cut the art budget with as much as, some figures note, 40%. This means less money to artists within all artforms, closing down many of the regional offices promoting art and culture, less money to the Art Council, and so forth. Regrettable but perhaps inevitable, Economist states. Money needs to be secured from other funding resources, mainly private.
It’s a problem on many levels. The lack of methods to properly measure effects of art and culture is one. Another is funding. Experiences show that private funding might be easier to find for building icon buildings, but is not a reliable source of income for production of art.
If new large cultural icons such as Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art are to be able to bring tourists and have an effect on the overall economy, and in time pay back the investment to the local community; visual and conceptual artists, film-makers, handicraft artists, designers, musicians, poets, and others are needed to fill these large buildings with content.
Whose responsibility are their working conditions?
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