Posts with tag New economy

Again: Save the 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.

For just a few of the articles, read (in Swedish) here, here, here, here, and here.

16 december, 2014

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Creative Economy at Arterial Network Conference

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.

The conference on African Creative Economy, held by Arterial network and Racine on November 12–16, was held in the big auditorium inside the library.

”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.

15 november, 2014

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Newsweek’s last issue

The 31st of December was a historic day. The very last printed issue of Newsweek was published and distributed. From now on the only way to read Newsweek is on the web.

Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine, published since 1933 in New York City and with US and international distribution. I

n October 2012 the editor Tina Brown announced that the weekly would end it’s eighty years of printed publication to go only digital. It’s an historic change and follows a period of changes within in printed press due to changing reading habits. Read more of the challenges and future of print here.

Nätverkstan managed to get the hands on a copy of the very last issue. And as the historic winds of change are blowing around us we continue our work to help small cultural journals and publicists to face the digital challenges and find solutions that are cost effective. This year the project Literature and digitization will take further steps in this direction with funding from Region Västra Götaland.

2 januari, 2013

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The future of print

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.

 

7 november, 2012

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Center vs periphery

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.

9 juli, 2012

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Seminar: Pier Luigi Sacco

Under the crystal chandeliers in Stora Teatern, a theatre built 1859 in centre of Göteborg and with walls whispering of wonderful operas, musicals and ballets during its golden days as the musical scene in Göteborg, Italian Economist Pier Luigi Sacco and Director Christer Gustafsson talked about the role of art and culture for society development on Saturday (25th of February).

It is madness, Pier Luigi Sacco stated, what many European leaders are doing at the moment cutting cultural budgets. Art and culture is the main raw material for innovation, well-being, health and development. And he backs his arguments with research and cross-testing inquiries in different matrices. It shows for example that going to a classical concert may well have give you a longer more healthy life.

His main argument is ”active cultural participation” and he shows the innovation index shown on this page (18th of February) and puts it next to another ranking: Active cultural participation Eurobarometer. In both rankings Sweden is ranked number one. When putting these two independently done rankings next to each other, it could mean that active cultural participation has an effect on a country’s ability for innovation. If you argue for putting public money to boost innovation, make sure to also invest money in local theatre groups, music training, or different dance centres from young age and up.

Pier Luigi Sacco has a system-based method of understanding and analysis a city or region. This has been done in many places, among them he was a consultant for Vancouver (Canada) in forming a cultural strategy: The Power of Arts in Vancouver. Creating a Great City.

Christer Gustafsson is now working with the same method in the region of Halland, a region in between the two large regions Region Västra Götaland and Skåne. The placement might feel a bit squeezed at times, but this system-based and culture-led way of development is new for Sweden, Halland, and Kulturmiljö Halland, is in the forefront of these discussions. It’s about culture-led regional economic and social development.

Culture and art is the core. It’s the ”soft-ware”. The major raw material to build on.

Download the presentation of Pier Luigi Sacco (English) here: Sacco, Halmstad-Goteborg.pdf. Christer Gustafsson presentation (Swedish) can be found here:Stora teatern, Göteborg, 25 februari 2012.pdf .

Pier Luigi Sacco also visited the Conference arranged by Generator last year. And listen to an interview on youtube here done by the European network Encatc. You find another blogpost on the seminar (Swedish) here.

The seminar was an arrangement by Västra Götaland, the think tank Kombinator, in cooperation with Kulturmiljö Halland and Nätverkstan.

26 februari, 2012

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Life Lessons: Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs giving a speech at Stanford University on June 12, 2005, on his life lessons. Three stories from his life; the story of connecting the dots, love and loss, and about death.

Have a look at Steve Jobs speech here.

7 oktober, 2011

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Book industry in transformation

”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.

17 september, 2011

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Lotterymoney to culture

Kungliga Operan, the Royal Opera in Stockholm, was filled to the rim with people from politics to culture in a grand opening event arranged by Svenska Postkodslotteriet, Swedish Lottery,

The event was the closing celebration of three days where Nobel Price winning scientists, researchers and others had come together to discuss on how the world could become more sustainable. And it was also an introduction to the Lottery’s new fund of 100 million SEK per year for artistic and cultural projects.

The amount can be compared to the newly formed state authority Kulturbryggan, with the aim of distributing 25 million SEK to innovative cultural projects. An additional 25 million SEK is hoped to come from business life.

For Sweden having lottery money for culture is a new thing. Within sports we’ve seen it before, but for culture it’s new. The Lottery is part of a Holland-based and privately owned group of companies Novamedia, and has, as they describe themselves, both a commercial company and non-profit association. Through sales of lottery they bring in money that can be distributed to charity, a model they call ”marketdriven charity”.

It was a star-dense evening with Nobel Price winner in literature, Nadine Gordimer; musician Melody Gardot; and 42nd President of United States and running the Clinton Foundation, Bill Clinton. There were music by children in Il Sistema, dance performance, choirs and many others. They all represented how culture makes the world a better place. It was no doubt of the Lottery’s intention to with this lavish event take Swedish cultural life and political structure with storm.

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20 maj, 2011

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Art policy a foundation for CCI

In a letter to the Observer, some of UK’s famous artists within film, TV and theatre send a warning of what the drastic cuts in UK funding to art will do. The main message being that less public money to the art field will have serious effects on British economy. Creative industries have contributed more than 7 billion pounds a year to the economy.

An article in BBC News report on the appeal where Dame Helen Mirren, the actress, are one of the artists stating that investment in the arts brings in (as they put it) ”staggering” return for the country. If cultural policy is dismantled, it will have effects on creative industries and the economy as a whole.

October 20th 2010 was named Axe Wednesday by British press due to the government announcement of massive cuts in the UK budget in all areas of society. Within arts it has meant cuts over all fields within culture, and just the Arts Council England, distributing money to a large amount of arts venues, theatres, and galleries, had its budget cut by around 30 percent.

Swedish Counsellor for Cultural Affairs in London, Carl Otto Werkelid, says in a short interview on the Swedish Government website, that UK is facing a huge tightening of public finances. The cultural field is still holding its breath in the wait of seeing what concrete effects the cuts will have for the arts. The appeal yesterday was perhaps a change in the waiting. Carl Otto Werkelid is talking about a paradigm shift that will have effects way beyond the boarders of UK.

Read the original letter to the Observer here.

Read the article in the BBC News about the appeal by British artists here.

Read the Guardian on the culture cuts here.

Read a short post on the changes in UK here.

And read the interview of Carl Otto Werkelid here (in Swedish).

14 mars, 2011

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What happened to CIDS in Manchester?

Creative Industries Development Services (CIDS) in Manchester started in the end of the 1990s as a way to support the bubbling small-scale music life to become more sustainable businesses, build networks and be an intermediary between the city and its cultural scene.

The initiative was taken by Manchester City after a research-report 1997-1999 suggested to start an agency to be the intermediary between Manchester City’s infrastructure for support for businesses and the small-scale cultural life.

CIDS had four assignments when it started: 1) offer business support based on the acknowledgment that the cultural field needs specific competence and expertise, you need to know something of the field to be able to give the right support, 2) provide information and expertise of the cultural sector to the official structures, 3) build collaborations and partnerships with existing infrastructure to provide better and more coherent efforts to the creative field, and 4) to have a representative role and give voice for specific needs in the field into policy- and decision-making structures in the city.

In Professor Justin O’Connor’s report Developing a Creative Cluster in a Postindustrial City: CIDS and Manchester, he points at a few reasons why CIDS, in 2008 finally closed down its activities.

Two processes showed to be difficult. On one hand the notion of ”Creative Industries” which through the slight different connotation towards economic growth in the understanding of ”Creative Industries” compared to ”Cultural Industries” which in the beginning were understood as not only economic growth but also the non-commercial arts and culture. This change in the understanding slowly mirrored the policy and decisions in the city of Manchester, which in the long run made CIDS work with small-scale cultural businesses with specific conditions and in the middle of commercial and non-commercial difficult.

The other was the intermediary role, the balancing act between the city and policy becoming more and more instrumental and focused on economic growth, the other being the situation for artists and small cultural businesses and their specific needs which often didn’t fit in to the overall agenda of the city. The idea of building trust by sharing the same risk as the cultural field and taking a clear standing point for the artists, made the officials look upon CIDS as somewhat a maverick organisation.

It is interesting to see how the hopes for creative industries are growing, at the same time as the official support-structures, indicators and expectations still follow the traditional industry.

Read Justin O’Connor’s and Xin Gu’s report here: manchestercids.pdf.

11 februari, 2011

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Back to the future

It may sound like a futuristic, or even slightly crazy project, to travel from Gothenburg to Bangalore in search of a developer that could build a framework iPhone application, a white label, for Swedish cultural journals. But we did it anyway.

Nätverkstan has been providing services like accounting and distribution to cultural journals for over a decade. We were among the first organizations in the cultural sector in Sweden to host our own web server and we have always tried to use new technology to empower the small-scale publisher. It is about time we find a way to get the cultural journals their own applications. And we need to find the right solutions, cheap but still meaningful and user friendly.

Why Bangalore? Are there really no able developers in Sweden? Of course there are, and we have talked to some of them. And we have learnt a lot, especially by hosting our own online bookstore, Samlade skrifter. But through Västra Götaland’s strategic cooperation with the Karnataka region, we have been able to assist in the development of our first international subsidiary company, NamNätverkstan, based in Bangalore. It is our aspiration that the project to develop applications for Swedish cultural magazines could be our first cooperation. Our colleague in Bangalore, Anand Varadaraj, has been immensely helpful in setting up meetings.

And it was in Bangalore that the IT-revolution really started in the 80s. Try googling Infosys, if you haven’t already heard of them. In every nook and corner of Bangalore, young engineers, many of whom started their career at Infosys, now emerge as entrepreneurs of their own. Many of them work in the explosive mobile sector. For an organization looking to learn more of mobile applications and to develop for their clients, like us, it feels like coming home.

After an early morning arrival, some hours of sleep and a late breakfast, we set of to our first meeting with a company, Mobisy.  From what we could learn from their website they had developed a really interesting platform called Mobitop, enabling them to port standard web development script languages to all the major mobile platforms. Impressive indeed! We were equally impressed with their young CEO Lalit, who immediately understood our needs and raised a few interesting questions of usage and further development.

To be continued…

Text: Carl Forsberg, Nätverkstan

25 januari, 2011

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The end of UK Creative Industries?

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.

powenstflemingWhen 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.

goldsmithsSeveral 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.

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19 oktober, 2010

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Innovationsystem in Region Västra Götaland

Twelve people working with different parts of the innovation system to support business ideas, counselling, mentorship, and financing for the SME field in Region Västra Götaland walk up the stage. They stand in a long row on the stage where some fifteen years ago the world’s well-known operas were performed. Storan was the former opera house of Göteborg and a cultural mark in Göteborg, a building that unfortunately has not gotten a proper new role yet after the opera moved to the new built opera house by the river in 1994.

This conference is about how to start and help new businesses through the innovation system in the region. There are representatives from incubators, financing, social businesses, counselling, mentorship and the middlemen that can answer questions and send you to the right place. Two of these mentioned that they work with artists, none of them put forward cultural and creative businesses as a potential area or possible clients to work with.

It’s interesting since at the same time, in Brussels and around Europe, the contribution of the creative industries is put forward as a high priority question. The state of Sweden has written an activity plan for how to support creative industries in Sweden, the Region Västra Götaland has one too, and so have some communities. Everyone lean on the figures from the EU commission from 2006 on the economic size of the field: 2,6% of GDP in Europe, 3,1% of the workforce and growing. This is where new jobs will be created.

But for the twelve people on the stage, and the presentators of the day, this fact seem to have passed by unnoticed. Not one mentioned this as a potential area or had strategies of how to encircle, define and find methods of how to work with this growing field. Perhaps it’s not so big in economic size compared to others in the larger economy, but isn’t every lost opportunity also a missed possibility?

Nätverkstan is working with an educational programme on creative industries aimed for the innovation system in the region on an assignment from Region Västra Götaland. We also work with Cultural Innovation as such and have two seminars with Arvind Lodaya from Sristhi School of Art, Design and Technology in May. Read this for more info.

28 april, 2010

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Music Industry and new business models

This sunny day in Stockholm, people from the music industry gathered at Hotel Rival for the Creators Conference arranged by Swedish Music Information Center, The Swedish Society of Popular Music Composers and Society for Swedish Composers.

The focus was added value in the digital world, the attempt was to lift the question from Intellectual Property Rights to look broader; which way might we go in technical choices, what new business models might we see in the future, and what is the role of the middleman within the music industry? Mark Fischlock, the moderator for the day, early on stated that we seem to have underestimated the digitalization and we have for a long time tried to impose old models in a new system. He got a lot of agreeing nodding from the eight-headed panel, and American Intellectual Property Law Attorney, Bennett Lincoff, was quick in hooking on to this, saying that we need a completely new business model for the music industry that can deal with the challenges imposed by the Internet.

Other things said was things like ”We have to find solutions where money goes directly to the Artist”, ”People are willing to pay if the money goes to the right thing”, ”How do you get a fair deal between the producer and distributor?”, ”There is no interest in pipes, you are interested in the content they are providing”, ”The real problem is the lawyers who seem to be stuck in old structures”, ”Let’s face it: We are all cutting and pasting, we have to be less focused on IP”, ”It’s a difference between free or feels free on the Internet”. Many points were made by legendary manager Peter Jenner (Pink Floyd, The Clash and others), who stressed that the industry needs to change and money go directly to the pockets of the Artists. The distributors, like the record-companies, publishers, just grab too much of the pie and this will, and has to, change. Another important point made was the lack of political interest in digitalization as a whole in Sweden.

A bit of a sad remark is the reminder that the music industry in Sweden has to take a serious look at the equality question. Are we to believe that the talented, brilliant, famous musicians, singers, composers, and directors of organizations in this field are only men? In today’s Stockholm paper Dagens Nyheter an article put the light on the music industry being very male-dominant, while among the theatre institutions things have changed. A few years ago a survey showed theatre institutions to have almost only men as directors, something that now had changed to a 50-50 percent men and women in top positions. For everyone who read today’s paper and then went to the conference, sadly got the situation in the music field confirmed. In each panel of eight people, only one in each was a woman. Maybe the Internet and new models in distribution may have an impact on changing this male domination, letting young talented women find alternative ways?

10 mars, 2010

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The Future of Culture – Creative commonage and commercial desert?

The discussion on the consequences of digitalization for example music, film, literature, cultural journals is like an undulating ocean. It goes up and down but never stops its movement. Each of the Art forms has their own discussion.

Publishing houses were horrified of Google, the scanning of literature to make the first gigantic digital library. The Google deals made publishing houses furious and should these be signed or not? Did they have a choice? Are they mainly worried of the payment to the author or of their own position?

Music has fought fiercly against free downloading. In Sweden the new Ipred law aim to hunt those down that download for free. What does new business models look like on the Internet that make music available and the user pay for it? Examples like Spotify has grown up as new initiatives. Film is the same. Free downloading or sites like youtube, where films are uploaded to be viewed by anyone, is a big concern. The quality in screening is not good, but it’s for free. Chris Anderson says in his new book ”Free” that with Internet everything goes towards zero in costs. The business model, or how to earn money, will look very different in the future.

And what happens to the Artists? In the end, as most of the time, they are without income. Perhaps this development could actually be positive for the single Artist as money and power of distribution will be in the hands of the producer?

There are many questions and processes overlapping and crossing each other. The different industries; film, music, publishing worry about their future. But stay within their own field. Very few in Sweden have tried to get an overview, looked across the different specific fields to see the larger trend. This is the ambition in the pre-study done by Mikael Löfgren, Swedish Cultural Journalist, in cooperation with colleagues at Nätverkstan this coming fall. The study is funded by The Foundation for the Culture of the Future. Hopefully it will be the beginning of a learning process ending with a large Hearing in Göteborg where these issues will be discussed.

2 september, 2009

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Summer reading

The pile of books this summer is growing. There is so much to read! Here, some old and new books on cultural and creative industries, artistic practice and economy, cultural policy, situation for Art and Artists, black identity and post-colonial analysis, the new global and Free market and so forth.

Bill Ivey, ”Arts, inc. How Greed and Neglect Have Destroyed Our Cultural Rights” (University of California Press 2008). Bill Ivey was Chairman of National Endowments for the Arts (NEA) in USA 1998-2001, and is now founding director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University. Interesting about Bill Ivey’s experience as Chairman of NEA and how Art and Artists enrich our lives, but where neglect from the governement as well as the market is endangering the future.

David Throsby, ”Economics and Culture” (Cambridge University Press 2001).David Throsby is Professor of Econimcs at Macquarie University in Australia. The book behind the circle-model put forward by Department of Culture, Media and Sports in UK in 2007 (look at this post) is this one, and with very well analysed material on the two grand entities: Economics and Culture.

Daniel H. Pink, ”A whole new mind. Why right-brainers will rule the future” (Penguin Group 2006). For a review read the one by Associate Professor Lane B Mills at East Carolina University. Daniel H Pink has written several books on the changes of work in the world, where this one focus on the rise of right-brain thinking in modern economics. The book has inspired many, and was recommended by Sian Prime as a source for inspiration for the models used at the Creative Pioneer Programme at Nesta in UK (read the following interview with Sian Prime from 2006).

Steven J. Tepper and Bill Ivey, ”Engaging Art. The Next Great Transformation of America’s Cultural Life” (Taylor & Francis Group 2008). Seems in line with the above mentioned topics.

Chris Anderson, ”Free. The future of a radical price” (Hyperion 2009). The editor in chief of Wired Magazine and author of ”The Long Tail”, about the change of market in a globalized world, how an online market creates niche markets and – the topic of this new book – how prices online tend to reach zero which forces a new line of thinking on products and what is a sellable product.

Franz Fanon, ”Black Skin, White Masks” (Grove Press Inc 1967). Franz Fanon was born in Martinique in 1925, studied medicine in France, specialized in psychatry and wrote several books on the African struggle for liberation. The book was first published in 1952.

4 augusti, 2009

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PV-FV=NPV • Project work in Kenya

An article in Kenyan paper the Nation (June 27, 2009), written by journalist Gitau Gikonyo puts forward a new tendency he sees. As the middle class is growing in Kenya, the engagement for social issues is declining. The middle class seem to be happy with their lives, driving the car back-and-forth to their jobs, living in houses, children going to good schools, and as the number within this class grows, the interest for politics and to work for a better society for all diminishes. The only ones left to lift these issues are either the elite or the very poor, the article states. In India the middle class accounts for around 200 million and is the economically most dynamic group on this planet. But overall they don’t care about politics or social reforms, Gikonyo states. They are well as it is.

People we meet in Nairobi are very committed. They want to see change, take the opportunity. But for the Arts in Kenya one major question is: Is the Art sector ready for change? In Kenya Art and culture is not described in economic terms, as it is in Europe. And to reach changes, basic needs like img_9212food, electricity, sanity and infrastructure have to be in place. Working with culture without a conscious mindset also on social and societal issues just does not work. ”Freedom of Speach is not recognized in this country since Art is not recognized” one person tells us.

Culture have a mindset towards society. How does this fit with private investors’ interest? The complexity rises. Investors have another rationale and value system than the Arts. The market value chain also looks different. The traditional industry is a linear process from origination to consumption, in creative industries it’s a disruptive process. It doesn’t follow linear expectations, rather you need to in every step from origination to distribution and consumption think in several different options (for more, have a look at Donna Ghelfi’s report below). Time value of money, opportunity cost, as well as net present value counted in the figure: PV-FV=NPV is all investors talk, which has to be layered with cultural production and entrepreneurship if you want these to different fields to meet. Without loosing the value of the Art, the Artistic integrity and the social aspect so closely linked to Artistic work. How should this be done?

The project is a project funded by the Swedish Institute and Strömme Foundation and run by Pratik Vithlani at Mangowalla Ventures in cooperation with Godown and Nätverkstan. Below you can find some of the reports used in the environmental scan for the project.

Read the much debated report on the post-election violence in 2007 written by the Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence, the Waki Report: wakirep.

For information about culture in Africa, have a look at Obervatory of Cultural Policy in Africa. Another interesting initiative is the Arterial network, which started with a conference in Senegal in 2007. The report can be downloaded here: arterialconferencereport.

Read also the reports by Dominic Power, at the University of Uppsala, Sweden, on creative industries, intellectual property and so forth, download here one: dominic-power_-revisied-cluster-theory-for-cultural-industries. Download Donna Ghelfi’s, Programme Officer at Creative Industries Division, interview with John Howkins, a leading thinker on creativity and intellectual property, here: cr_interview_howkins. For an economic perspective on Eastern Africa, look at the report prepared for the investment company Swedfund in 2009 by Peter Stein: reporteastafrica-publ

Check out this fantastic presentation by Hans Rosling, Professor of International Health at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm at ted.com (or below) where he gives perspective of global development.

30 juni, 2009

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The funding gap • Project work in Kenya

As we in the project team pursue the question of interaction between business and cultural field during our sessions, several things emerge. And as we get in to the thought of investors investing in cultural businesses to make profitable returns, a few more things get clear.

Many of the people we meet talk about the potential of creative industries in Kenya, people from both business and cultural side. There is an opening, a collective thought is, a potential, which should be addressed. But how? How would you do to catalyze this potential and at the cost of what? What are the trade-offs?

Samuel Muvelah, at Zimele Asset Management Company Limited, has long experience of project work in different parts of Kenya, venture capital and is now a money manager for those who put in around 50 dollars and want their savings to grow. ”The reason the creative field is not seen, is that it’s lacking sufficient institutional organization to integrate with formal capital structures”, is his major point. ”The field is disorganized, so how do you find talent? How do you begin to cooperate with creative industries?” ”To catalyze the potential you need an entry point!”

Muthoni Udonga, on the other hand is musician and a real entrepreneur. She runs festivals with a variety of the top East African Artists, run workshops, and she does this with the perspective of both doing excellent music events, and do activities that develop the field. All this at the same time as she runs her own music career. ”Film, tv, music are really taking off here in Nairobi. On small budgets and very entrepreneurial”, she says. Together with producer Robert Wawawei, they describe a growing and bubbling music life with many upcoming new Artists. It’s a growing field, but one also struggling with skills gaps. ”Artists have to think like entrepreneurs, but that doesn’t happen here”, is Muthoni’s point. Together with few funding bodies, lack of investment money and an unpredictable audience, it’s hard to come forward. Hard – but not impossible.

So how could this funding gap between investors wanting to invest in creative industries but don’t know how, and a creative field wanting to be able to live on their content be resolved? How can bridges be built? In September the first meeting will be held in Nairobi putting these partners together to find concrete suggestions to come forward.

But in such a complex project there are many things to consider, and the team of Godown Art Center, Mangowalla Ventures and Nätverkstan, have been digging deep in to these discussions. A few things has emerged, perhaps not so new, but still very evident.

1. Investors expect an economic profit in their investments. Considering the creative field, which consists of a wide variety of activities from the Arts to design and media, only a few will be in consideration. Only a very small portion of cultural businesses and organizations has the chance to make these sorts of profits. They exist, of course, and there is a point to build bridges so they can meet, but for the cultural field as a whole, this will not be a solution.

2. Majority in the creative field are single Artists, small-scale cultural entrepreneurs and organizations that run not-for-profit entities. These might not be in the viewpoint of the investors, but are important as job creators. Here future jobs will be created.

3. Content production and symbolic value are becoming more and more important in the business world. The business field needs the creative field to be able to sustain the value of their products in a world in fast transition.

4. The Artists and investors have one common denominator: they both live on taking risks. The Artist takes risk to create meaning, the investor to create returns.

5. What are the trade-offs? For the investor one such is perhaps the relation between the higher expected returns, the less quality of the Artistic work, if you in the ”quality”-word also put in the aspect of uniqueness. This relation might not be binding, a film production selling very well and generating a large profit might also be of high quality. But for most cultural entrepreneurs striving in the field, there will not be large amounts of money to be made, unless you put less amount of time into increasing quality or your Artistic talent or do something else.

So for the Artist on the other hand, the relation between Artistic value and survival are true. Will you be able to live on your Art? If you want to earn money, is there a trade-off on your Artistic value?

The project is a project funded by the Swedish Institute and Strömme Foundation and run by Pratik Vithlani at Mangowalla Ventures in cooperation with Godown and Nätverkstan.

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27 juni, 2009

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Lotta Lekvall
Director of Nätverkstan, a Cultural Organisation in Sweden. Nätverkstan provides services …

Cultural and Social Entrepreneurship

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