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In December 2014 the cultural journals found themselves in the centre of the Swedish media debate.
The State Cultural Committee (Kulturutskottet) decided in a meeting just before christmas to cut the budget for the cultural journals with nearly 80%. The debate was instant and agitated. The effect of the decision would be that the majority of cultural journals would have to close down. Qualified critical journalism and writing was in danger.
Cultural critics, journalists, writers, politicians from left to right, professional organizations and interest groups, were roaring writing articles, debating and arguing.
The debate showed the importance of these journals for the public debate.
At MEG 2015, the Media Days in Göteborg, the media elite in Sweden has gathered to discuss and debate. Nätverkstan with artist Helena Persson has commented on the role of the cultural journals and their near-death experience last December in a Lit de Parade for the journals: an installation called ”The Resurrection”.
It was followed by a seminar with editor and Nätverkstan Chair David Karlsson and journalist Siri Reuterstrand on ”The blue-collar workers in the public sphere – The role and importance of cultural journals”.
Never before have cultural journals been in the centre of the debate in Swedish media.
After the decision of the State Cultural Committee (Kulturutskottet) to cut the budget of the cultural journals with nearly 80%, the debate has been roaring.
Everyone: Cultural critics, journalists, writers; politicians from left to right (yes, even colleagues to Chair of the Committee, Per Bill, in the Conservative party have raised furious voices); professional organizations and interest groups, are writing articles, debating and arguing.
The decision has still not been changed to save the cultural journals.
But the Culture Minister who after the new election in March 2015 decides to reintroduce or even raise the support for the journals can only win. For a very small sum of money, this minister will gain respect and will be remembered as the one who saved the public critical dialogue and debate in Sweden.
Categories: Art Artistic practice Creative Industries Creative spaces Cultural Journals Cultural Policy Culture-led Development Democracy Digitization Distribution Economy Education Entrepreneurship Innovation Literature Regional Development
Etiketter:Artist, Artistic practice, Creativity, Cultural economy, Cultural Journal, Cultural Policy, Cultural Project, Democracy, Development, Digitization, Distribution, Economy, Employment, Entrepreneurship, Literature, New economy, Social entrepreneur
”A whole segment of critical debate is erased (…)” describes editor and critic Kim West in an article in Kunstkritikk where he writes about the outrage that hit Sweden on Friday (December 12th).
The coalition of Liberal-Conservatives is cutting the support for the rich variety of cultural journals in Sweden by around 80%. This means a whole art form is being closed down and killed. In one stroke of the red pen. No other European country has done the same.
This is possible due to the dramatic development in Swedish politics the last few weeks where the Sweden Democrats decided to vote for the opposition party’s budget, instead of the ruling left-wing coalition’s budget. This meant that the government’s budget didn’t win the election in parliament and therefore has to rule on the opposition party’s budget in waiting for the new election on March 22 2015.
And apparently the coalition of Liberal and Conservatives now take the chance to fulfil cuts of 365 million SEK in the cultural budget. 15 million SEK of these are being cut in one area specifically: cultural journals. The support for this area is 19 million SEK in total today, cutting 15 million SEK of these leaves 4 million SEK left.
This means that a whole sector is sentenced to a sure death.
Cultural journals are already living on the economic edge. Editors, writers, and critics are getting very low payment for their articles. These people are magicians who have dedicated their time to make sure that critical journalism and quality texts are still produced. The wide variety of critical and intensifying perspectives have been a pride in Swedish democracy. The Liberal-Conservatives showed on Friday how easily this could be ruined.
This is also done in a time when the media crisis is being discussed (just lately in three articles in the daily Göteborgs-Posten), newspapers are closing down their cultural pages, and critical and culture journalism is being severely threatened.
These times calls for action!
Sign this petition just to start with: Rädda Kulturtidskriftsstödet (Save the support for cultural journals).
Categories: Art Artistic practice Blogg Creative Industries Creative spaces Cultural Journals Cultural Policy Culture-led Development Democracy Distribution Economy Entrepreneurship Innovation Literature Regional Development Reports, articles and books
Etiketter:Artist, Artistic practice, Creativity, Cultural economy, Cultural Journal, Cultural Policy, Cultural Project, Democracy, Development, Distribution, Economy, Education, Employment, Entrepreneur, Literature, Research, Social entrepreneur
The chairman of the Committee of Culture in Region Västra Götaland, Alex Bergström, together with vice chairman Lars Nordström, proudly presented the decision in the committee of establishing a fund for essays. The fund will give up to 500.000 SEK for essays published in a cultural journal. The fund is unique in Sweden.
The other new initiative is support for translation of literature written by immigrant authors living in Sweden.
The region has also decided to become a region for refuge authors and artists and has become a member of ICORN (International cities of refuge network).
Chairman of the Writer’s Centre in West Sweden, Carl Forsberg, saw this as an important development and possibility for the small, often economically restrained, cultural journals and for authors.
The seminar was moderated by David Karlsson, chairman of Nätverkstan.
Each year in beginning of Fall after everyone is back from vacation, the staff at Nätverkstan gather to discuss what we do, why we do it, if we do the right things, and future strategies to continue take an active and proactive role in the cultural scene.
Discussions are high-ended, open, critical, and with wide perspectives. We work in workshops as well as share presentations and knowledge. This year David Karlsson presented the contextual view-point from the board; Mikael Löfgren talked about his newly written report on value within arts (in Swedish: Inga undantag), written for a network of Art Exhibition Spaces named Klister and inspired by the british consultant Sarah Thelwall‘s report Size Matters; and Karin Dalborg who gave a summary on environmental scanning and the result from a staff workshop earlier this year.
It’s also about inspiration and sharing; it’s the only time when (nearly) all staff members are gathered at one spot for a lunch-to-lunch meeting outside of Göteborg.
It’s both valuable and fun; useful as well as playing around and just enjoy. This year the Kick-off, as we call it, was at Slussen, one of our favorite spots for these meetings.
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
Kulturchock packed the suitcases with Swedish cultural journals and travelled to Helsinki Book Fair that just took place.
On the airport they met the first (that we have seen) print-on-demand machine for buying periodicals and journals, Meganews. It’s time to check what the deal is and how cultural journals can be part of this very modern way of buying journals.
The Cultural Journal Glänta is celebrating 20 years and do this with an App full of future words. Like Deppbägare, Dialogdemonstrant, Öntreprenera, and Öövermod (sorry, an English translation of these words doesn’t exist yet as hardly the words yet exist…).
A few years ago the journal invited over hundred artists, writers, researchers, philosophers, and journalists to add one piece each to the puzzle and the Future Encyclopedia was born. It started as a printed journal and has now become an App for Iphone and Ipad possible to download for free.
Nätverkstan has created the App as part of the effort of together with Cultural Journals find new, simple, and economic sound ways to publish text in print and digital format. Also download the App for the Journal Ord&Bild.
Göteborg is the host city of one of the biggest book fairs in Northern Europe. The latest years, the need of finding another positioning has evolved and to meet this need Mediadagarna – The Media Days fires off for the second year in a row.
Nätverkstan and Kulturchock, who work vividly with different ideas and initiatives to meet up the needs of the cultural journals, see this platform as one way of putting the Swedish cultural journals on the map.
We are already convinced of the multi-dimensional spread in content as well as subjects presented in the printed cultural journals and their role in Swedish democracy. What we had not digged deeper into before was the sound of them. What would they sound like if it was sound? We decided to build a sound installation in order to make them ”speak” in a new way.
From an old portable typewriter you hear the sound of typings from laptops as well as manual key buttons in a mxi with lead pencils writing on paper. ”Typings” is a 7`48”tape recording played in a loop.
From the headphones attached to the installation play a variation of sound samples from cultural magazines that work with additional formats as sound. Some do radio, talking magazines or present sound art works along with their releases. For this special occasion we also did a special recording of a young girl reading poetry from the arty, literary, and philosophic edition of OEI.
Text and photo: Helena Persson
To find the depth in culture journals you don’t need 3D-glasses, but sometimes a little better exposure would help.
The team running the Nätverkstan project Kulturchock (Culture Chock), who are quoted above, are clever people. New this year is a cooperation with eleven specific bookshops to expose the cultural journals under the signature ”Cultural Journals Weeks”. Some of the best bookhops in the country are leaving their best marketing spot to cultural journals: the shopping-windows!
The Cultural Journals Week will be visable from South to North during January and February and some already started!
Ghanian writer Kojo Laing talks softly but with emphasis. Every word comes from the heart and touches the heart of the audience. It’s the most generous and honest presentation I have heard in many years.
It’s like a curse, he says about writing. He can’t stop. He has tried to stop, but he just can’t.
Coming from a Christian family in Ghana, his father was a priest, and with all his five siblings working within the church, he is the only one being a writer and also in pressing doubt in faith, something that is also topics in many of his books. He leans forward in his chair, looks over the audience, hitting his chest with his hand and asks, insisting on the honesty of this question: Am I a fool? Am I crazy having this doubt? Can anyone in the room say that they are anywhere near the doubt I have?
His writing is anything but a simple process, he tells us. One of the books took eight years to write. He wanted to write Ghanian and English, not for the sake of it, but because he wanted to squeeze out the English from the Ghanian languages. With his hands he shows us the guesture of thoroughly and hard squeezing water from wet laundry. And that took time. He picks up the book, shows it, and looks at it, exhausted. And goes quiet.
He answers each question posed by Kwani Trust Chairman Tom Maliti sometimes with a big smile of a question that he founds on the spot, then continues with a story and sometimes ends abruptly. The room gets quiet a short second before a new line of thought is unfolded.
Kojo Laing is like a ghost in his own country, he describes his situation. His books are mainly published outside of Ghana. But on the question if he would rather write something else, if he got the chance to re-do things, something less controversial that sold many, many copies of his books and made him more famous, his answer is distinct and clear. He couldn’t write anything else. This is what he writes.
A young woman raises her hand and asks what he suggests a young writer should think about pursuing a career as a writer?
Be yourself, is his first answer. Read as much as your brain can contain. The more you read, the more complex you become. And it applies to experience as well. Paradoxical experience. Encourage many identities. It will be needed as the world goes smaller.
And he adds and laughs: And when you get advices you reject them.
Kwani? Litfest 2012 is a yearly literature festival run by Kwani Trust in Nairobi. This year the theme is Conversations with the Horn. Writers, artists in exchange.
In Copenhagen it is called ”the book happening of the year”. This is also why Kulturchock made the decision to participate at the event that during the years has expanded in favour for both dedicated readers and the book industry in Denmark.
For Kulturchock it is not only the purpose to improve the distribution and visibility for the Swedish cultural magazines within the country. It is also a beneficial opportunity to overbridge borders both internationally and linguistically to show the multifaceted goldmine that we possess. The 100 culture magazines that we represent impress many of the book fairs visitors, and the question is not why the swedish magazines are there, but why the danish aren´t? Ivan Rød, head of the organisation for danish cultural magazines, tells us that the granting for these magazines har been withdrawn and that they can not afford participating. Nevertheless, the danish literature magazine Standart was elected this year´s cultural magazine in the Nordic countries.
The showcase for cultural magazines at the book fair in Gothenburg this year was a collaboration between Kulturchock at Nätverkstan and Tidskriftscentralen in Finland. In addition to the Swedish and Finnish magazines you could also find Danish and Norwegian ones. Maybe this concept can evolve and be used at future events?
Thank you for this visit, BogForum, see you again in 2013?
Post by Helena Persson, Project manager at Nätverkstan
Etiketter:Bangalore, Creative Industries, Cultural economy, Cultural Journal, Cultural Policy, Democracy, Development, Digitization, Distribution, Economy, Globalization, Literature, New economy, Transformation
Since 2009 large and small newspapers around the world have been facing difficulties with drop in profit, drop in sales with job cuts as a result.
The latest in the line of newspaper cuts is Newsweek announcing earlier this fall the end of printed publication, and only going digital. December 31 is the last printed issue being distributed changing an eighty year chain of printed publications. The Independent as another example of a troubled newspaper and in the US the newspaper scene has changed drastically with papers like The Seattle Post-intelligencer, The Detroit News, and The San Francisco Chronicle and more severely being reduced and some closed down.
The Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter has seen a drastic cut among employees and the latest news is that the other large daily Svenska Dagbladet has to save around 40 million SEK leading to cutting off it’s cultural pages and having around 50–60 employees are loosing their jobs.
Smaller newspapers are facing the same future. Nerikes Allehanda and Vestmanlands Läns Tidning, who both have the same owner, are cutting with 75 people during this year (read more here).
Times for newspapers and journals are dramatically changing. What is the future of printed press? Will heaps of printed books, journals, newspapers just be stored in piles collecting dust while the readers are elsewhere?
Cultural critic Olav Fumarola Unsgaard addresses this challenge and the future of print in an article at A-Desk Critical Thinking. He writes:
To understand the media landscape of today we must change our point of viewpoint. The world of printed media is today going through very rapid changes. To make it simple all these changes are in one way or another connected to digitalisation and the Internet. First of all we must understand that these changes have an impact on the entire sector of print. This means newspapers, journals, magazines, books and comics. It will affect the worldwide media conglomerates as well as the small fanzines. In the words of Joseph Schumpeter is there a massive creative destruction going on. Someone will lose and someone will gain.
Read the full article here.
Olav Fumarola Unsgaard is cultural journalist, book editor and project manager, also a former project manager for the long tail-project at Nätverkstan. Today mostly working with the Swedish publishing house Atlas and the journals Fronesis and Ord&Bild.
Etiketter:Artistic practice, Creative Industries, crisis, Cultural economy, Cultural Journal, Development, Distribution, Economy, Entrepreneurship, Globalization, Literature, New economy, Transformation
Inspired by the Nordic colors (the Göteborg Book Fair has a Nordic theme this year) the space is now filled with around hundred cultural journals filled with articles on society, art, poetry, literature, feminism, language, food, film, philosophy and more.
The doors have opened to the fair which is already packed with literatureinterested people from all over Europe and elsewhere.
The verdict fell heavily yesterday on the two Swedish journalists, Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye, in prison in Addis Adeba, Ethiopia.
They were charged and convicted by Lideta Federal High Court for being terrorists, the most severe of the charges they were accused for. It’s no doubt that the conviction was political, and so the trial.
Johan Persson and Martin Schibbiye are not terrorists. They went to the Ogaden-province to document and inquire about the multinational oil companies work in the area and the consequences of this. It’s a completely closed area, and word is that people live in the most severe circumstances and in complete absence of human rights as well as international law.
The verdict is a clear statement to journalists to keep out, and of course a large threat to freedom of speech and the journalists task as critical observers and reporters. We have seen many examples of this, just recently artist Ai Weiwei’s as well as many other political writers and journalists imprisonment in China. On December 15 Nätverkstan arranged Imprisoned Day in Lagerhuset, an arrangement together with the PEN club, to put the light on imprisoned writers.
Read other posts on Ai Weiwei here, and Imprisoned Writers’ Day here. Also related reflections from an article in New York Times in April this year by Salman Rushdie here. Read todays daily Göteborgs-Posten (in Swedish).
Yesterday, on November 15, Nätverkstan commemorated The Day of the Imprisoned Writer – this annual, international day intended to recognize and support writers who resist repression of the basic human right to freedom of expression and who stand up to attacks made against their right to impart information.
In Lagerhuset, Göteborg, the editor in chief for the magazine Filter, Mattias Göransson, explained the situation for the two imprisoned Swedish journalists Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson. After that we listened to a discussion between the Palestinian/Syrian poet Ghayath Almadhoun and the freelance journalist Mikael Löfgren on the topic literature and politics in Syria. The evening ended with a poetry reading of Almadhouns recently published poems translated into Swedish (Asylansökan, Ersatz förlag, 2010).
Ghayath Almadhoun, describes himself as he ”doesn’t exist”. Being of Palestinian and Gaza heritage but born in Syria, which he later left, he doesn’t have any certificate or paper acknowledging his national status. No papers and no passport. This of course is a dilemma from the Migration Office in Sweden, where he is applying for asylum, who wants to see his birthcertificate to be able to decide on his heritage and by that also if he is allowed to apply for asylum or not. ”I am not learning Swedish until they accept me”, he says with a smile. ”I accept this country, and this country has to accept me.”
”To see how profoundly the book business is changing, watch the shelves”
In the latest issue of Economist (Sept 10th–16th 2011) you can read how digitization is transforming the book industry. What has been known in newspaper and music world since late 1990s is now heading towards publishers. This year sales in the first half of the year of consumer e-books in America overtook those from adult hardback books.
As an example, watch the bookshelves, Economist say. IKEA is introducing a new version of the classic bookshelf ”Billy” next month, a shelf not necessarily for storing books, but a deeper one with glass doors to use for ornaments and other things.
Digitization has given new life to old books. Harlequin has digitized more than 13.000 of its books and the firm has started to publish romances as only e-books. Amazon is selling more copies of e-books than paper books. Digitization has for small publishers showed a way out of the difficulty of managing inventory. If you print too many books, many of them will be returned by stores. Print too few and publishers will get a problem of costing more than it tastes to reprint.
There are two important jobs for publishers:
”They act as the venture capitalists of the words business, advancing money to authors of workthwhile books that might not be written otherwise. And they are editors, picking good books and improving them. So it would be good, not just for their shareholders but also for intellectual life, if they survived”
Nätverkstan has started Samladeskrifter out if these exact ideas: to make small publishers’ and authors’ books available over time and possible to read in different digital formats. It’s both a digital tool for small publishers and authors to make books available on Internet, and a sales window towards the market. Building this has been an interesting roller-coaster ride through a book industry in transformation.
Read more here.
Etiketter:Creative Industries, Cultural Journal, Cultural Project, Development, Digitization, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Flexibility, Literature, New economy, Policy for Global Development, Renewal, Social entrepreneur
On Saturday the 20:th of august Carl Forsberg and Olav Fumarola Unsgaard had a public talk at the city festival of Malmö. The topic was about digital publishing. Our analysis is that we are entering a more complex ecosystem of texts. The traditional printed media is going to be complemented by at least four different types of digital texts:
• The digital book (today usually an E-pug file read in an E-reader)
• The text as an pdf-file
• Texts on the internet (homepages and blogs at the www)
• Applications (small programs read on a smartphone or a tablet computer)
Nätverkstans aim is to help, guide and provide the Swedish journals with guidance and solutions for this complex ecosystem of texts. Our latest project is to develop an iPhone application for the journal Ord&Bild. It is now available for downloading at Apples iTune store: http://itunes.apple.com/se/app/tidskriften-ord-bild/id447773438?mt=8.
The aim of creating this application is that the journals need an application based on their needs and economical conditions. Programming an application is still quite costly and no single Swedish cultural journal has the budget doing it themselves. Our idea is that Nätverkstan can lower the cost for the journals by doing a great part of the development work (if you are interested, please contact: email@example.com). The event was visited by 40 persons with quite different knowledge of digital publishing. Some where publishers and some saw an iPad for the first time.
Nätverkstans other work at the festival was mainly concerned about promotion of the different journals. We where present at the café Cacaofoni and at St Petri.
Text: Olav Fumarola Unsgaard
Photo: Helena Persson
Nätverkstan has for some time worked on a Eurozine application for iPhone and iPad. For this project we have developed a cooperation with partners in Bangalore, a newly formed company which, inspired by our profile, decided to name their enterprise Namnätverkstan.
The 23rd conference of the Eurozine network, 13-16 of May in Linz, Austria, was organized under the theme Changing media – Media in change. For this conference, representatives of both Nätverkstan (David Karlsson and myself) and Namnätverkstan (Anand Varadaraj) were invited to present our results so far. We were given the opportunity to take part in a panel discussion with Simon Worthington, editor of Mute magazine, and moderated by the editor in chief of Eurozine, Carl Henrik Fredriksson. It felt really rewarding to present the audience, some of Europe’s most distinguished editors of culture journals, with a fully working iOS application that could be viewed both through simulator on a large projector screen and hands on, on our devices. We also gave a quick overview on how to work our online backend with wysiwyg editor. It became very apparent that many of the journals were interested in the project.
However, even if the presentation was a major milestone for us who have been involved in the project, our workshop was only a small part of the immensly interesting conference programme. The opening speech by Khaled Hroub, on one of the mega stories of 2011: The arab spring, really set the tone for the rest of the days. His reflections on the demographic and social changes in the arab countries for the last decades and his thoughts on the impact of both Al-Jazeera and social media in the current situation were also complemented the following day by the statement:
”The Facebook revolution or the WikiLeaks revolution is a colonial fantasy, a narcissit projection of the West”.
This viewpoint was certainly not left uncontested in the vivid talks the were held in and around the seminars.
And so we discussed, debated and dined through three days of conference – professionally organzied by the Eurozine administration, generously hosted by the Lentos art museum and Linz municipality. It is hard to imagine a better crowd to give response to our endeveours in the publishing field. We have strong hopes for a continued fruitful cooperation.
Text: Carl Forsberg, manager of Mediaverkstäderna (Medialabs) at Nätverkstan.
Read a note in the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet about the app development at Nätverkstan here.
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