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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)!
A full feast is going on as we arrive on India’s Independence Day, a day you do celebrate with taking the day off, saluting the Indian flag and having get togethers. August 15 is the day when India got their independence from British rule and became a sovereign state in 1947. Today everyone is dressed up in extra nice clothes, the flag is raised in the small flagpole, and the music is on.
At Desi, located near the village of Heggodu in Karnataka, they color cotton, weave and dye it, making beatiful textiles that are sewn into dresses, shirts, bags, towels and many other useful things. Around two hundred women and twenty men work here with an average salary of around 5-6 dollars a day. The cooperative is placed on a hillside, surrounded by the green jungle, and have several smaller houses together for the different stages of producing textiles; one house for sewing, one for dying the yarn, one for making patterns and drying, one for administration. You feel the Gandhi spirit as we are shown around, and even though we don’t see the spinning wheels you could feel their presence. Wings of history combined with modern times.
On the train-trip from O’Hare Airport into Chicago a young man steps into the train and sit down in front of us. His eyes are covered with shades, he speaks loudly in his phone, holding another, an iphone or perhaps it’s the ipod, in his other hand together with a bottle of apple Snapple drink. As we confused try to figure out where to get off, he overhears or feels, our confusion and turn around to help out. ”So, where are you guys from?”, he asked when our end-station was figured out. ”Sweden”, we reply and he turns a bit more towards us: ”Oh, that is so nice! I hope to be able to travel there one day…”. ”What do you work with?”, I describe that it’s about Art and culture. ”So, you are more driven by passion, than money?” he looks at me, lean back and smiles: ”That’s so amazing!”. And as the train moves to the city he starts talking, telling us his story.
On the fortyfive minute trip a story unfolds of a young boy climbing the fence between USA and Mexico with his family (”Do you know what that does to you, seeing your mother climbing that fence?”). They tried several times, got caught and sent back but finally, when he was the age of 12, managed to get into the States. They moved around a bit, he went to some schools but it didn’t work out. He didn’t know the language and was not treated well, he says. They were illegally in the country and for that reason had no rights, or didn’t dare to pursue their rights. He is still, at the age of around 25, illegally in the US. And the price for this is high, he told us.
”You have no rights. I can’t do anything, but I don’t want to end up where most Mexicans do: doing low-paid jobs at a factory or as cleaning staff with no hopes of ever getting a change. I am not doing that. I have a job, it’s ok, but the personal price I pay is too high, I think. I don’t like it. It’s haaard. I have to go to all these parties, and you drink and there are drugs you have to take…If you don’t, they think you are weak…The drugs I can handle, but the alcohol…mmm…”, he gives a crocked smile, ”It is hard, you know. I really want to get out of this shit, but you have to socialize. You just have to”, he takes a sip of what I now realize is not apple drink, but alcohol hidden in a Snapple bottle. ”Sometimes you just want to cry, but I can’t cry. Never show weakness. Just deal with it. You just don’t talk to anyone. I have never told this to anyone.” and he looks at me through his shades and asks ”What do you think? What should I do?”
On the plane over to Chicago I read a tribune to Barack Obama and the election promises that are now slowly coming true, the magazine proudly presented. Words of Hope. Change. American Dreams come true. The young man on the train had a dream, but no hope and few possibilities for change. The story follows me several days. What could he do to change his situation? He himself saw no ways other than the track he was following. A lot, of course, due to his illegal status.
The other morning we visited the House of Blues and listened to gospel so strongly sung that the rooftop nearly lifted. You could sense the enormous power generated among people in the room, the sense of hope, the strength to change a difficult situation. The power people got from gospel and spirituals played an important role in the change for African Americans in the USA, from slavery to civil rights.
One man without hope. A president urging people to believe in hope. A gospel choir singing their hearts out of hope. How is it related?
Nätverkstan is in Chicago, USA, to be part in the conference ”Creative Entrepreneurship and Education in Cultural Life”, arranged by Colombia College Chicago and Encatc. More to come about this. Read also this post of the Mexican–American border.
The post-election riots in Kenya in 2007 with many people killed and injured is still an open wound in society. Even though troubles between ethnic groups have been seen before, the strength and cruelty of the reactions in 2007 shook people from the ground. How could it happen?
At the opening of Kenyan Artist Peterson Kamwathi’s exhibition at Goethe-Institute in Nairobi on June 23, both of the inaugural speakers talk about the riots and the fact that no-one, still after two years, has been put to justice. Kamwathi’s exhibition ”Sitting Allowance” is a direct reaction of the environment before and after the election in 2007. In a text the Artist himself describes his work:
” The composition of these drawings is inspired by formal photos. The formal posture is meant to depict the rigidity and conformity that at many times is prevalent within institutions. Institutions are champions of formality and while there is nothing wrong with that, at times formality can be at the expense of humanity”.
Many we meet talk about the riots and the importance of building a positive development. Next election is in 2012 and the fear is that the same will happen. At Godown Art Center Art and culture are important factors for development, both societal and economical. The Art center is still a work-in-progress, Joy Mboya and Judy Ogana tell us as we walk around the compounds. They managed to get a hold of localities in an industrial area in Nairobi and have made it into an Art center with studios for Artists, renting out places for music studios, dance company, puppet maker. They also have an exhibition hall and a performance stage. They wanted to – among many other things – give Artists a sense of belonging, a place where they could go to perform, paint, and exhibit.
We are here for a week to prepare for a project and event that aim to bring investors, donors and businesses together with cultural entrepreneurs and organisations from Kenya and Sweden. The funding gap between cultural field and funding bodies is universal. But there is also another side. As the creative field is growing and becoming more important for economy there is a growing interest from investors to find partners in creative field. But they have a hard time finding where and with whom to invest. So what will happen if we bring these two together around the same table?
Reports and links on Kenya will be posted on this site. For now, have a look at African Colours, an Internet portal for African contemporary Artists.
Etiketter:Africa, Artist, Artistic practice, Burning Platforms, Creative Industries, Creativity, crisis, Cultural economy, Cultural Project, Democracy, Development, Economy, Education, Employment, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Globalization, International exchange, Kenya
Michael Tucker, president of Independent Booksellers, Books Inc., really believes that there is a future even for the smaller, independent bookstores. That is if they are willing and capable of adjusting to the fast changing conditions of today.
The reason for going to San Francisco, when Svensk Bokhandel decided to arrange a trip for Swedish booksellers, is that this area has met up the challenge from the Internet bookshopping. Books Inc., with 10 stores and more that 200 employees, serves as a shining example that independent bookselling can not only survive, but also prosper – even if they ”must dance among the elephants”. However, the elephants set the rules and the best you can do is being as flexible and innovative as possible.
Kitty Clark, manager at Books Inc., Vann Ness Ave., lets us in on her recipe for creating a successful bookstore: Focus on customer service – by engaged and trusted employees – make sure that the interior and selection appeal to your clientele, arrange author events, book clubs, book launch parties, seminars led by writers etc etc.
During our tour to four of Tuckers’s stores we could see exactly what she ment; they were all Books Inc. shops, but completely different. Neither orientation, nor design, looked the same in any of the places. It’s all about fitting into the context. Tucker also stressed the importence of events. Even if you have the most amazing store, you can not be sure that the books alone will stand the competition from the Internet commerce. You need something that makes you special, something the digital world lack. Above all, that’s eye to eye contact and interaction.
Can these advice be applicated to the Swedish independent book stores? Surely, the conditions are in many ways quite different, but here’s defenitely every reason to be inspired by the Book Inc., and the San Francicso way of finding ways to reinvent the traditional book shop.
Written by KarinLundgren and Marie Johansson, Managers at Natverkstan.
Etiketter:Artistic practice, Books, Business idea, Creative Industries, Creativity, Cultural economy, Cultural Journal, Cultural Project, Democracy, Digitization, Distribution, Economy, Employment, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, International exchange, Literature, New economy, Renewal, Resources, San Francisco, Social entrepreneur, Svensk Bokhandel
How do we look at work and employment? What is our relationship to working? How does time linger after people left? How do our perception and dreams change as we grow up? Are we prepared to do anything to reach our goals? What is meaningful work?
Skifte is a collective digital exhibition with filmmakers, animators, photographers, artists and poets, who all reflect on the theme work. Nine pieces showing different aspects and expressions, putting forward questions rather than answers. The exhibition is part of Medieverkstäderna i Väst, a collective of digital workshops in Region Västra Götaland, where members are visual artists, editors, photographers, poets and film makers.
Curator has been Stina Karlsdóttir Vestrin, who is also a student at Kulturverkstan. In the folder coming with the exhibition she writes:
”The fact that our work is one of the things forming us, building our identity and creating a community in a social context, we can all agree on, work is a central part of our lives. I would like, with this exhibition, to do some pounces in everyday working life and lift reflections around its structure. What is a job? What is a good job? Why do we work and what makes an honourable day’s work? The same occupation can in some cases be a job and in others not. In today’s society it’s more and more important to be adaptable and flexible on a more and more demanding labour market at the same time as the boarders between working life and leisure is erased. Working conditions is constantly shifting and each time as its problems to solve.
The war of ants has disappeared from our TVs. The digital era has its own noise, its own war, other ants. Internet is today an obvious part of labour market. Fifteen years ago you hardly knew what it was, yet it has since changed labour for many people all over the world. It also affects those workers who don’t have access to computers. A shift has taken place. Changes can sneak on you slowly without us understanding a shift is on its way. What happens to our jobs? The new is growing out of the old, breaking out from it, against it, want to be free. It is in this contradiction that we find other ways and tramp our own tracks.”
The exhibition will be touring in Region Västra Götaland and is on Internet 25 of April to 24 of May 2009. Look at www.skifte.se and click for English. Download (in Swedish) the catalogue here: skifte_katalog.
Etiketter:Animation, Artist, Artistic collective workshop, Artistic practice, Creativity, Development, Digitization, Employment, Flexibility, Labour, Medialab, Medieverkstäderna, photo, Shift, Skifte, Västra Götaland, Work
The Minister of Culture and Minister of Enterprise arranged today in Stockholm the third meeting for dialogue between cultural and business fields. Around twenty organisations, entrepreneurs and regional structures from both culture and business was invited to discuss issues like: How can national, regional and local offices get better in using culture and creative industries as a resource for growth? What tools and what kind of cooperation’s are needed? How could we get better in catalysing the potential in creative industries? The new in the meeting was that the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Enterprise were sitting by the same table, with an ambition to find mutual solutions. And they have, which was announced at the meeting, devoted 1,4 million euro (13 million SEK) in the new budget to initiatives within this field. It’s a good sign. As cultural entrepreneurs we have experienced what it feels like when you can’t discuss with any of the ministries, since none of them feel responsible for the issues put forward. In content we are culture, in form we are a business. You fall in between two chairs (a Swedish expression). So it’s great to finally witness the two different Ministers talk to each other to find solutions. It’s always, though, risks in discussions like this to forget what we are talking about. As we speak of creative economy, creative businesses and innovation, we need also to speak of the situation for artists. It’s a coin with two sides; one doesn’t exist without the other. There will be no creative industry without high quality artists that can produce content.
The Swedish Public Employment Service just came with a report on the employment situation within culture 2008-2009. According to the report 83.000 people in Sweden was occupied within the cultural field in 2006, which correspond to 2 percent of the total workforce. You should be a bit careful of the figures, though. Different reports have different statistics, probably since they are measuring in different ways. This report put forward a few trends the coming two years:
1. Overall, demand for cultural services is growing, but during 2008 in a slower pace.
2. On the other hand they spot a growth in the amount of artists and cultural practitioners that start their own small businesses. There are 6800 companies with at least one person hired within the field.
3. The type of jobs in the cultural field is still multiple jobbers, short-term projects, part-time work. It’s a project based work situation. More often you need to have your own business to be able to take assignments.
4. Larger institutions are cutting down and people loose their jobs. The employers of today within the cultural field are the small businesses.
5. A multitude of competencies are needed when working in the field.
The report, in Swedish, can be downloaded here kultur_prognos_08_09.pdf.
Photos of Stockholm are found on www.fotoakuten.se.
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