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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
An art piece outside the Bibliothèque Nationale in Rabat (Morocco) called ”Digital” is reflecting on the new society. Old traditions meet the new knowledge and digital society.
”It’s not one modernity”, said South African poet, writer and Professor Pitika Ntuli in an engaging and poethic speech: ”there are several parallel modernities”. ”It’s time for the African Cultural Renaissance”, he continued.
Several examples of a growing cultural scene is shown. In Nigeria the film industry (Nollywood) comes to 10% of GDP in a country with around 174 million inhabitants. In Senegal the music industry is thriving and growing. South Africa is showing important examples as well as visual arts and museums in Morocco.
The global value of Cultural and Creative Industries is said to be around 600 billion USD.
Africa’s share is less then 1%. This is the topic of the three conference days.
Categories: Art Art and Business Artistic practice Blogg Creative Industries Creative spaces Cultural Policy Culture-led Development Democracy Digitization Distribution Economy Education Entrepreneurship International Regional Development Seminar
Etiketter:Artist, Artistic practice, Creative Industries, Creativity, Cultural economy, Cultural Policy, Cultural Project, Democracy, Development, Digitization, Distribution, Economy, Education, Employment, Entrepreneur, Globalization, International exchange, New economy, Social entrepreneur
Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine, is empty except for some people rushing across to their different morning activities and a piano painted in Ukraine colours standing lonely on the side.
A wooden board has been put up with photographs of the victims from the Maidan revolution last February (2014) that ended with an overthrown Ukrainan government, and the old president fleeing to Russia. Russian military forces took over Crimea as well as the Eastern parts of Ukraine where fights are still going on. The photographs on the board are getting worn out by rain and wind. They are only of men: one with his cat, another young boy looking seriously in to the camera, yet another a man standing the middle of the demonstration giving a quick glance in the direction of the photographer.
Sunday 26 of October is the election, but here on the Maidan Square we don’t see any evidence of this upcoming event. The on-going crisis in the East with Russia is, though, in the mind of everyone I meet.
On the conference Cultural Policy in Europe today: Finance, management, audience development arranged by EUNIC and the Eastern Partnership, culture is in focus and big hopes and importance are attached to the culture field. Minister of Culture, Yevhen Nyshchuk, opens the seminar by emphasizing culture as the key for growth and development in Ukraine and Europe.
Walter Zampieri, Head of Unit, Culture Policy and Intercultural dialogue at the Directorate General for Education and Culture at the European Commission, stresses the same and says that Culture and Creative Industries encompass around 4% of GDP in Europe. This is an important field in Europe today.
Ukraine is eager to build relations with the EU, an agenda has finally been signed that will guarantee cooperation. Culture and Creative Industries are one of the areas where money will be spent and efforts put in.
But can culture play this role? And can it just be instrumental? Doesn’t artistic value and quality need to be at the core of any such discussions?
One of the speakers, Mr Luciano Gloor, got the chance to answer a question posed by a man in film business that was wondering how to meet what he saw as propaganda done by the Russians, and if perhaps film could be a tool to counteract this?
The answer was straightforward and clear: As soon as you forget your passion and artistic values in producing your art, it will also become propaganda.
The audience will immediately see through any such attempt and judge you as others are judged that only commit to use art as propaganda.
”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.
Department of Finance invite each year board members and CEOs of state owned companies to a half-day board conference on different current topics. Today this year’s conference was held at Dramaten (Royal Dramatic Theatre) on the pressing issue of ”Sustainable business” with prominent guests as Al Gore, David Blood, and Petter Stordalen, and an introduction by Minister of Market Finance, Peter Norman.
According to the Swedish state’s definition of ”sustainable business” it includes how companies work with human rights, employment conditions, environment, anti-corruption, business ethics, diversity, and equality.
And apparently all of us board members in different state-owned boards are doing an excellent job.
This was pointed out by all speakers, with the exception of Petter Stordalen, who eagerly and passionately was claiming that we could all start our sustainable work today. Now! But for the rest it was more of a clap on the shoulder and reassurances that ”you are all doing such a good job!” looking out of the audience.
”I am happy with the support I get from the state”, two of the participants in the last panel claimed. With a cosy self-confidence the two CEOs answered the moderator’s questions on how they work sustainable, challenges they meet and how they solve them, and if they are satisfied with the support from their owner, the state. And they are happy with the support, both reassured.
And you wonder how is that possible?
How is it possible to scratch each other’s backs and claim satisfaction, when companies in the world, which also includes Swedish companies (state and privately owned), are still violating human rights? When climate goals are not reached? When children are used in child labour? When textile workers die in Bangladesh due to lousy working conditions? When women and children are sexually abused?
Shouldn’t the questions instead be: What are we all doing wrong? What is it we are NOT doing so that these violations can continue? What is it we are NOT doing but SHOULD do to fulfill the ambitions with sustainable business?
The last semester at Kulturverkstan, the two-year International Culture Project Management Programme, the students do an internship at an institution, organization or project which they have identified as interesting from a learning perspective.
During their internship, they also identify a question or focus area which they research. The topics range from the sustainable society, citizen dialogue, equality and gender in cultural life, the relation between an intense working situation and the every day life, work and motive, and much more.
Coming back to Kulturverkstan, they write a final report as well as have an open presentation to discuss their topics with invited guests and audience. The discussions are rich both in depth and learning aspects and it’s a time of the year that has become a must if you’re interested in keeping up-to-date in important discussions in the cultural scene.
Read more here and if you happen to be in Göteborg – slip into one of the seminars!
A few years ago, Nätverkstan tried a slogan to attract advertisers to put in ads in small cultural journals. A fancy advertisement agency came up with witty slogans like Even poets need refrigerators to attract white goods shops to buy ads in a selected group of journals who’s target groups were poets. The slogan was put on dishcloths, refrigerator magnets and send-outs. So when you whiped your sink you would be reminded. Even poets need refrigerators.
On a seminar with John Newbigin, Chair of Creative England, at Kulturverkstan the other week, he reminded of another of those sayings. The success behind Victorian engineering in UK, he said, was said to be because ”It’s the same men building bridges reading poetry”. The engineers in Victorian UK not only held their expertise in engineering they also read poetry, which made them build better bridges.
It’s the same line that Steve Jobs is said to have followed, the idea that competence in liberal arts and humanities are important, and perhaps more so than computing skills. Jobs was looking for poets and artists with interest in computing, not computer geeks, John Newbigin reminded us.
Next weekend the yearly Poetry Festival (Poesifestival) is taking place – a great opportunity to fill your minds and add competence with three full days (and evenings) of poetry, poetry-reading and exploring this years theme of ”Orientation”.
Often debated, and the politicians in Region Västra Götaland love to join the choir, is the relation between the central city or capital and the periphery. Urbanization has made this a burning question. A constant topic on politicians agenda is how to deal with depopulation of the countryside.
The discussion is often built as if the center is in opposition to the periphery. Instead of a perspective of how the two can support each other in development. American–Canadian activist and writer Jane Jacobs (1916–2006), who had a great interest in urban development and communities, wrote in mid 60s about this dilemma. Her main thesis was that cities are the main drivers of economic development.
The June 30th number of Economist puts London on a high as the international hub in UK and discusses its role for development of the rest of Britain. And the lack of appreciation of its brilliance among policymakers.
”Now history is moving on, and the policymakers are messing up. They could tip the city into a decline without even noticing it, for the ecosystem of a great city is a complex and fragile thing.”
”Stay open to stay great” is the conclusion of the Economist leader article. Staying open means continue to let foreigners and immigrants coming into the country. They have helped built London to the city it is and more help is needed. Building a fortress around Europe doesn’t seem like the most forward-looking idea.
In the freshly published anthology Artists and the Arts Industries, the Swedish Arts Grants Committee puts the artistic perspective in centre of the discussion on cultural and creative industries (CCI).
Five people; researchers, independent analysts, professors, and an artist, were asked to contribute a text reflecting on the artistic practice and CCI and the result has become an interesting anthology putting the light on different and perhaps unexpected aspects of the discussion.
Yudhishthir Raj Isar, independent cultural analyst and Professor of Cultural Policy Studies at The American University of Paris, puts a critical view on the whole paradigm with the conclusion that economy is not everything and that it’s necessary to include reflection on cultural economy and non-market forms of cultural activity.
Kate Oakley, writer and political analyst specializing in the fields of culture and creativity (UK), is focussing her text on innovation, which is as she calls it ”not the New, New thing”. The arts have a complex relationship to innovation, being both on one hand avant-garde and cutting-edge, and on the other saver of tradition. Talk of innovation within culture and art needs to be nuanced, reflected, and with a critical perspective.
Angela McRobbie, Professor of Communication at Goldsmiths, University of London, is discussing key concepts of urban development and gentrification in the light of the policy-development of CCI in the UK since middle of 90s and onward, and comparing development in three different cities: Glasgow, Berlin, and London. Her reasoning is around employability, livelihood and how artists and young people within the field will be able to earn a living and sustain life within these fields.
Ylva Gislén, Visiting Professor at Malmö Faculty of Fine and Performing Arts and cultural writer, also put a focus on the artistic livelihood and puts this in relation to Hannah Arendt’s reasoning putting a qualitative distinction between different types of human activity in the book The Human Condition; the distinction between labour, work, and action.
Klas Östergren, author with his first book published in 1975, writes an insightful and personal story of his daily work and artistic practice of writing books, his relation to audience, and how he at one point when things were going well decided to write the complete opposite of what the market expected.
Perhaps common for all of these reflections are how pessimistic they are in their views of the role of the artist in CCI. It should be understood in the light of the economic crisis, but it’s more than that. It’s a disappointment. A question shining through is the somewhat disillusioned question of: Who today believes in art as something other than contributing to economic growth, innovation, and job creation?
The anthology can be ordered from The Swedish Arts Grants Committee and is written in both Swedish and English.
Etiketter:Artist, Artistic practice, Creative Industries, Cultural economy, Cultural Policy, Economy, Employment, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Self-employment, Social entrepreneur, Swedish Arts Grants Committee
FunctionFox, a Canadian company helping small companies improve productivity, has done a survey of more than two hundreds professionals within marketing, advertising, web design and the likes across the US. The aim was to see what these businesses are expecting the coming year in development or challenges in their businesses.
They found, for example, that even though times are hard and economy swaying, 43% of the small creative firms they surveyed expect to increase staff during the year. 52% expected to keep the current staff level.
Firms employing seven or more staff were more likely to add staff during 2012, while with six or fewer employees were more likely to maintain their staff.
It also showed that creative companies with eight or fewer employees are most optimistic about having a revenue growth. Large firms were more careful in their anticipation.
Read more here: FunctionFox-Creative-Industry-Outlook-2012.pdf.
First came shipbuilding. Then came Volvo. Now comes Film Industry to Göteborg.
The text, found on the wall at Gothenburg Film Studios, tells in three sentences the changes that Göteborg, and specifically the North Bank Side of river Göta Älv, has been going through the last forty years.
Shipbuilding was a large industry in Göteborg for a long time and the city was an important international hub for import and export of goods as well as ideas and contacts. Swedish East India Company had its base here and 37 of their ships were built in docks in the city. In the 70s the big crisis hit shipbuilding and many people lost their jobs and the deserted area has now changed into fancy residents. New businesses and centres are created with TV. Radio, IT, and film industry as a growing industry.
Now the car manufacturing industry is in a crisis and Saab sadly had to close down its business last year. Again people have lost their jobs. What will come instead is a question, but also strong in Trollhättan is film, animation, computer games, visual effects and the Science Park.
The impact of these new emerging industries are difficult to define and as hard to nail down into numbers. How can you evaluate and measure the effects of these new more small-scale industries? What indicators are needed? How do our statistical agencies streamline statistics from EU to local level so information can be compared? How do we assure to not only measure quantity, but also qualitative aspects? And how can we be clear of what is not measured, not to loose important aspects of art and culture and leave politicians with only numbers?
Etiketter:Artistic practice, Creative Industries, Creativity, crisis, Cultural economy, Cultural Policy, Development, Economy, Employment, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, EU, International exchange, Västra Götaland
Each year in the beginning of September everyone working at Nätverkstan gather to have a two-days meeting, drawing up the lines for the coming year. It can be to discuss future issues or particular questions we need more time to dig into. We have a look at the present situation, projects going on, and who is doing what, as well as just having time to talk and getting to know each other.
This year we went to Flatön, an island along the coast, to Handelsman Flink, a cute guest house just by the sea. We started of with a rattling exciting walking quiz competition and activities such as tandem-biking, crab-fishing, and knitting an art piece. Then into issues like Nätverkstan Gender Policy, present situation, and future projects 2012. Great fun with a fantastic group of people!
With a first-quarter GDP in US showing an increase of only 1.8 percent (less than expected 3 percent), declining housing prices, less consumption, an unemployment rate on 9.1 percent (in May only 54.000 new jobs were created), Rana Foroohar argues in Time (June 20 2011) it is time to kill the five most destructive myths of the US Economy:
1) This is a temporary blip, and then it’s full steam ahead
2) We can buy our way out of all this
3) The private sector will make it all better
4) We’ll pack up and move for new jobs
5) Entrepreneurs are the foundation of the economy
Both Republicans and Democrats are pursuing these myths of how the economy will recover, she writes. Instead a different path of growth has to be established rather than continue to believe in these five points.
Under the last myth the point is made that a good system of technical colleges are needed which will require a ”frank conversation” about the four-year liberal arts degree that may well leave the graduates overleveraged and underemployed.
A few thoughts come to mind.
The cultural field is highly entrepreneurial, cultural practitioners are entrepreneurs. In Europe many believe that it is in the creative industries where new jobs will be created. Maybe it is a bit hopeful; the sector is still a comparably small field. But it is growing.
If you read formal reports on unemployment rate within the art field, it does look depressing. But these figures need always to be read and analyzed together with other formal reports from other areas. Many studies show figures pointing at the cultural field as a growing field. Not in comparison with the large car industries as we use to know them, or perhaps the telecom industry. Yet important. The easy conclusion is that artists are over-represented in society. But reports and statistics are pointing in opposing directions (read more here).
Reading another report by the well-known Italian economist Pier Luigi Sacco, another interesting association is put forward to bear in mind. He puts two ranking tables next to each other: One ranking innovation in EU15 countries (2008) and one ranking Active Artistic Participation (EU15 2007).
And he notes:
”It is interesting to notice that the association is established between innovative capacity at the country level and active cultural participation at the same level. This is of course a preliminary piece of evidence, but it seems to suggests that the mechanisms discussed above seem to mirror into data more clearly than one could expect.”
It looks as if active participation in art has a correlation with the innovative capacity of a country. If this is right, we need a large flow of well-educated and professional artists from liberal arts Universities as well as easy access to practice art from a young age. Specifically, that is, if a country wants to ensure high innovation capacity.
Download Pier Luigi Sacco’s report here: pl-sacco-culture-3-0-ccis-local-and-regional-development-2.pdf.
The UK’s top business lobbying organization CBI is calling for better recognition of the creative industries contribution to British economy, the Guardian says in an article last Friday (March 25).
On a talk at Pinewood Studios (where films like Harry Potter and James Bond were filmed) the CBI General Director John Cridland gave his support and worry of the British Film Industry and was saying:
The creative industries are a big part of the CBI’s plans for a more dynamic and rebalanced economy, and the country’s future success is tied up with their success. I think they’re a part of the business community that deserves championing.
In a prognosis of the expected development of Swedish labour market presented in the daily Dagens Nyheter on March 6, artistic education is in the red zone.
In the prognosis done by Högskoleverket, expected number of graduated students in about 3-5 years are put in a diagram in relation to expected recruitment needs. There is according to this no need for students educated within the artistic educations. Too many artists are expected to take their diploma than there is a need for in society. They are simply tagged with the post-it ”surplus”.
We have seen it before. Each year it’s the same gloomy reports. During the over ten years we have run Kulturverkstan, the two-year International Project Management Education within cultural field, the labour market for artists, project managers, cultural practitioners has in different prognosis reports been more than gloomy.
But reality looks different. The students taking their exams get jobs or create their own. Last years survey showed 78% of the students taking their exam in June 2010 had gotten jobs in the field they educated in after their education. And it has been the same since the start of Kulturverkstan. Between 65-85% are getting jobs after the education.
Another prognosis is the expected outcome and development of the creative industries. Here results of the need for artistic skilled people are the complete opposite. The EU-Commission report ”The Economy of Culture in Europe” (KEA European Affairs) from 2006 showed that the creative industries contributed 2,6% to European GDP, 3,1% of the total workforce in EU worked within this field and the sector’s growth between 1999-2003 was 12,3% higher than the growth of the general economy. Many reports after this, also in Sweden, have shown optimistic figures of the growing labour market within these fields.
This is where new jobs are created.
On one hand an over establishment of artists in the Swedish society. On the other a growing field where new jobs will see daylight. How are we to understand these opposing trends that exists along side each other at the same time? Are the forecasts reliable?
Over a twenty-years period, the portion of permanent hired ensembles on the theaters in Sweden has declined drastically. Actresses and actors are to very high degree freelancers. In Sweden there are about 2300 actresses and actors, ninety percent are freelancers, ten percent has permanent positions.
On Stockhom Stadsteater (Stockholm City Theatre) the portion of people with permanent jobs have declined from 70 to 20 percent over the twenty-year period, at the same time as the number of plays performed has risen. Benny Fredriksson, the Director of Stockholm Stadsteater, has been seen as the leader of the modern theater in his efficiency, number of plays performed, and not the least, getting audience to come.
The crack in the glamour started yesterday, when the actor Ulf Friberg wrote in a big article in the daily Dagens-Nyheter about the conditions for actors and actresses at Stockholm Stadsteater. He means that the fact that so many are freelancers creates a quiet culture, critics are swallowed in fear you will not get the next job. Mr Fredriksson has drawn the efficiency too far, is his point.
The ones standing with the cap in their hands are the ones creating the content, of without every theater is only an empty shell: The actresses and actors.
We have seen it before. Some years ago a debate roared in Sweden due to the fact that one of the biggest museums in Sweden, Moderna Museet (Modern Museum), didn’t pay the visual artists for the time to put together a new exhibition for the museum. Everyone else was paid. The Director, administrators, guides, and the caretakers. But not the artist. They should be happy to be able to have an exhibition at all at such a prestigious museum. But you can’t pay rent with honour.
It’s interesting in times when the mantra from local authorities to the state, from business life and bureaucrats, even among ourselves within cultural life is: Artists have to know how to price themselves and their work!
For the theater it would be fine if the hourly payment for freelancers covered costs for development, reading and rehearsal. It doesn’t. Instead different competence-programs are started, all with the aim of teaching artists to become better at selling themselves.
When in fact, the present crisis of the theater has structural reasons. It can not be blamed on or solved by individuals. No matter how many entrepreneurial programs we set up.
It looks like the politics on creative industries started by the New Labour in 1997 has come to an end. The incentives started in the late 90s were new and has contributed to create a market for small-scale cultural businesses, models that have been exported in Europe, all the way to Shanghai in Far East. UK has long been seen as the cradle of creative industries.
When Chris Smith was appointed by Tony Blair in 1997 to be Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sports, he could continue a process started in the 80s centred around Greater London Council (GLC). GLC described the cultural scene in London as the new ”industry” being important for creativity, social inclusion and economy. It was an attempt to describe cultural initiatives as the new industry and redefine a term first used by the two critical theorists Horkheimer and Adorno. The two were upon their arrival to the US in the 1940s chocked by how popular culture was produced in almost a factory way producing standardized culture goods. It was like an industry, they said in disgust.
The Greater London Council changed the understanding of cultural industries in the 90s, to instead describe the small-scale, cooking, multi-skilled cultural life with a potential and importance for the economy in London. Chris Smith could pick up and continue on this road, creative industries have grown and has become an important part of society and, many reports have confirmed, contribute in a substantial way to economy.
This is an epoch now being buried. Tomorrow (Wednesday, Oct 20) is Axe Wednesday, as it has been called in UK, where the government will announce massive cuts in all sectors of society. TV-news is showing expected figures of 500.000 public jobs being lost. Culture is expecting around 40% cuts in funding.
Two large factors have completely reshaped the scene: The financial crisis and the Conservative government.
The present government is reinterpreting creative industries to mainly concern media, dismantling what most understand as the large contribution of cultural industries; social inclusion, regional development, and labour market.
Several effects are expected in the cultural field, such as a total dismantling of cultural policy where for example the Film Commission has seen its last days, a complete dismantling of the regional level, a probable redefining and change of creative industries, cuts on most cultural development agencies, enormous cuts in the universities which means more focus on employability and less money on research and long-term learning.
Will this mean that we see the end of creative industries?
Interviews done in London, 18-19 October 2010, a project commissioned by Region Västra Götaland (Sweden) to do a small knowledge and research survey. Interviewed were Paul Owens at Burns Owens Partnership, Tom Fleming at Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy, Sian Prime, Director of MA Creative and Cultural Entrepreneursip at Goldsmiths University, and Gerald Lidstone, Director of Institute of Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths University.
The two women at Print Design in Lidköping are keeping very busy. They do prints for porcelain and when we visit they are about to start working with gold details, something that takes patience and precision. The knowledge they have is rare and they have kept their aims high. Their small business have had a fairly steady stream of orders since the start in 2006 when Rörstrand closed down the porcelain factory. Now it’s particularly busy. Print Design got a large order to do all the prints to the porcelain for Swedish Crown Princess Viktoria’s wedding in June and also the memory porcelain sold to the public.
The story is not un-known of these days. Rörstrand started their business producing ceramics and porcelain in 1726 in Stockholm. They grew quickly, got well-known for the quality porcelain and from 1936 the main office was placed in Lidköping together with the factory, employing around 1500 people (about 25.000 inhabitants in Lidköping) in the beginning of 21 century. In 2005 the owner, Finnish Ittala, decided to close down the factory due to the heavy investment costs of new ovens and move the business from Lidköping. All employees lost their jobs. For the small porcelain-town Lidköping, situated right at the south end of the lake Vänern in Sweden, this was of course a disaster. The porcelain factory and the shop attracted around 450.000 visitors each year. Closing down meant a catastrophe. The municipality got cold feet and the landlord stood with thousands of square metres empty space.
Gunnar Hansson, who had been working at Rörstrand, got the question if he would try to do something with the empty space and started slowly building on what today is a cluster of small-scale businesses, small production space for ceramics and porcelain, education in ceramics and a porcelain Museum. To have a platform to work from, he started the development company, Rörstrand Kulturforum with the aim of developing Rörstrand’s factory area to an attractive area for ceramic production. They started from scratch where people who had been working for the same employer as long as twenty years, were suppose to become entrepreneurs and needed education in things like how to do a budget, how the selling process worked. They also wanted to start the production of ceramics again, but where was the market for producing ceramics to a reacenable price? If you produce more than 30.000 cups you make them in Bangladesh, Gunnar Hansson tells us, and 30 cups you can produce in your own home-oven. What about producing 3000 cups?
Maybe that’s a market share they could take. In these changes Print Design started, where the two women had a very specific expertise, but had never run a business before. Now they do prints for the Royal Family in Sweden. With a combination of education, creators and Artists, business, small-scale entrepreneurs and new ideas, Rörstrand factory area has managed to keep the attraction. What is the key to success? ”We have lubricated where lubricate is needed”, is Gunnar Hanssons simple reply. One such grease is, no doubt, money.
Look also at the small Art and design studio In Every Tree, Stockholmbased, but they also have a studio in the old porcelain factory in Lidköping. See a former blogpost from Biella, Italy, where the textile industry met the same destiny. The visit was part of a study visit with a think tank on creative industries in Region Västra Götaland.
In 1999 Kulturverkstan, the two year Project Management Training Programme within culture started. The idea was to combine theoretical analysis with practical action plans, academic level with practice in the ”real world”, studies at Lagerhuset together with internships on organizations in cultural – or other – fields in Sweden or elsewhere. Lecturers from academia combined with festival managers, writers, philosophers, project managers, theatre directors, actors, film makers. And to work with students with all artistic expressions, to be cross-cultural. Thirty-five students each year have been accepted to Kulturverkstan after an extensive application process. Around three hundred students have examined and 85% have gotten jobs or started their own business after education. A number we are proud of.
On Saturday we celebrated Kulturverkstan 10 years with a big party and event at Röda Sten, a cultural house and exhibition hall by the channel in Göteborg. The Artist Lisa Nordström started the evening with her piece 7 States of Passion followed by Islandic writer and poet Andri Snær Magnason who talked about is award winning book ”Dreamland – a Self-Help Manual for a Frightened Nation” (2006) and the situation in Island after the financial crisis. Old students showed what they are working with, speeches, food and lots of dancing to the DJ:s captivating music the whole night long. The new cultural price in Göteborg, in memory of our late colleague Lars Lövheim was inaugurated.
A book on Kulturverkstan 10 years will be available soon (in Swedish)!
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