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GoDown Arts Centre in Nairobi started in 2009 workshops in art and entrepreneurship for the art community in Kenya and East Africa. The workshops has now evolved to build a Capacity-building Program for Creative Entrepreneurs and Artists in East Africa that is long-term and this Summer a pilot will start, a 10 weeks Summer-course in art and entrepreneurship.
Nätverkstan has been a part in this cooperation since the start, holding workshops, arranged study visit, facilitators workshops, and discussing content and educational planning. Last week (26–28th of March) a facilitators workshop took place in Nairobi, held by GoDown Art Centre, Sian Prime at Goldsmiths University and Nätverkstan.
With such a commitment and talent as found in the arts community and among institutions in Nairobi, this Summer-course is not far from coming true.
Etiketter:Artist, Artistic practice, Creative Industries, Creativity, Cultural economy, Cultural Policy, Cultural Project, Democracy, Development, Education, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, International exchange, Resources, Social entrepreneur
Schedule, Bangalore on the 13th of August 2009:
10.00–12.00 meeting at Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology to discuss cooperation on social and innovative entpreneurship, pedagogical and educational ideas, and young filmers. The meeting was held by Arvind Lodaya and Geeta Narayanan, taking part was members of staff of different positions.
14.00–15.00 meeting with animators, among them the Association of Bangalore Animation Industry, the animation education Toon Skool, animation studio Raydrops and Mediateck, and Asian Institute of Gaming and Animation (Aiga). Discussion around possible exchanges between animators in Region of Västra Götaland and Karnataka.
15–18 meeting at Attakkalari with Jay Palazhy and his colleagues. Several performances are planned to come to Vara Concert Hall in West Sweden in March next year. More possibilities were discussed as perhaps events at Museum of World Cultures. We got an introduction of all different projects going on from ”teachers’ training” to workshops on grassroot level as well as experimenting performances on movement, technology and lightning. We were introduced to graduating students’ work and were generously shown parts of their graduating performance – impressive work.
18.30–20.00 (we arrived late to this meeting) meeting with filmmakers, film critics, film association, writers, activists to discuss the film scene in India and the set-up of a Film Directing School in Bangalore. Among the participants was well-known Karnataka filmmaker Girish Kasaravalli, giving an idea of the filmmaking in India and Karnataka. Parallell to this, a discussion on how to start a new organization in Bangalore inspired by and in cooperaton with Nätverkstan.
20.00 – all participants from the former meeting continued over dinner.
Etiketter:Animation, Artist, Artistic practice, Bangalore, Creative Industries, Creativity, Cultural Project, Education, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, International exchange, Resources, Social entrepreneur, Västra Götaland
Little Black Pearl, situated in Bronzeville south of Chicago, is a nonprofit organisation with ambition to create opportunities for young adults through Artistic and cultural work. In the Centre they can work in one of the many studios with wood, glass, painting, ceramics, run workshops or put up shows. Gwendolyn Pruitt, Director of Product Design, shows us around and tells us the story of this community based organisation with enthusiasm and passion. It’s both about what they achieve with the students, she shows an example of tables they did with beautiful mosiac cover on top, which they sell to customers. It can be anything. Their mission is to deepen the creative involvement through Arts, and learn how to run things. It’s also about the struggle of getting the budget to sum up in the end and the constant search for funding bodies, she tells us with a sigh. ”I found that I don’t have the time to teach them that personal component”, she tells us with referral to the young students. She finds it’s a great need to also teach teachers ”It’s a gap between the structure and the student”.
In 1974 a group of classmates at high school got together to set up a theatre play by Paul Zindel. Since they only had one semester left, it was not until they came to Illionis State University that the idea formed and they looked for a place to set it up. Their first production was played in a Church in Chicago, and since they at the time was reading the book ”Steppenwolf” by Herman Hesse, they named the theatre the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Today the theatre is a prestigous one on Halsted Street, with the ambition of advancing the vitality and diversity of American Theatre .
We see the play ”Up” by Bridget Carpenter of the man who once reached the sky, the clouds, in a chair with balloons, and could not let go of the idea of doing it again. In another machine he would build. His vision held him alive, this was his passion, while everyday life and the reality of having to pay bills at the end of the month was taken care of by his wife. Until the situation changed and the pressure of supporting the family came closer. After the play there was an interesting discussion with the audience, reflections showing how differently we interpreted the play. The discussions at the conference of Artists and entrepreneurship become very real in this beautiful and sad play of having dreams and struggling with reality.
The Art Institute in Chicago is impressive in many ways, but mainly and mostly of two things. The collection of Art they have is impressive, to say the least. In this institute you can see everything from American contemporary Art to the Impressionists, African to Asian Art, photography and industrial design. You can stay days in there. Secondly it’s free for the public after five pm Thursdays and Fridays. The Institute and its collections are open and accessible for the public, something that seems in line with the attitude of giving Art and culture a central role in Chicago.
Etiketter:Artist, Artistic collective workshop, Artistic practice, Creative Industries, Creativity, Cultural economy, Cultural Policy, Cultural Project, Democracy, Development, Digitization, Economy, Education, Encatc, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, pedagogical, Resources, Social entrepreneur, USA
Another interesting website for Art in Africa is the website started by the Arterial Network, artsinafrica.com. The aim is to provide information on Arts, culture, creative industries in all African countries to enhance and facilitate cooperation and new connections.
On a café in San Francisco close to Union Square, in a rest between meetings with cultural organisations and Artists, the Artist Jörgen Svensson together with a few of us from Nätverkstan started a discussion on how Artistic competence could be an asset for city development. It was June 2008 and the European Commission were assigning the coming year as the year of creativity and innovation. The question intriguing us was: What boosts creativity? And how can an Artist’s competence be used in real life challenges, not only as an Artistic project, but as an asset for city developers? The project Community Art Lab took form.
The idea is simple: Put together people with different competencies to create a creative process which will enable new perspectives and ideas to form. This will become a resource for city development and innovative ideas. In this project we want to have local authorities, Artists, Art University and other expertise working together. The process is led by an Artist, and starts by the city authorities presenting a real challenge they are dealing with. All participants in the process are equally important for creativity to take form; the working method is to work in a genuine and long-term cooperation in a group of the different competencies, and through the process created catalyze ideas and find alternative solutions to challenges.
The project start with a five day Lab in the city with the partners involved. The starting point is the presentation by city authorities and where the invited group are seen as an asset to find alternative solutions and action plans. An intense five working days in a Lab-form starts. The process continues over time, between three to six months. A process leader leads the Lab and is a guide and mentor in the continuing work. The Lab-form is flexible and new competence and expertise can be added as the work proceeds. Read more of the project in the outline: community-art-laboratory_090603.
To read more of the study trip to San Francisco, look under Category with the same name. A quick look can be done on ”Thought on the road” and ”Public art and entrepreneurship” . The democracy project the South Bank Process in Göteborg, can be found on ”Transformation: from Warehouse to Cultural Center” and ”Democracy projects”. Read also about the Encatc Working Group ”Creative Entrepreneurship and Education”. Also read about the Artistic group Berlin, working with process as a method, and also the project Art and Politics in Västra Götaland.
Etiketter:Artist, Artistic practice, Creativity, Cultural Project, Democracy, Development, Encatc, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, EU, Flexibility, Innovation, International exchange, Renewal, Resources, San Francisco, Social entrepreneur, Transformation, Västra Götaland
These days, when entrepreneurship is put forward as the solution of the cultural field’s economic difficulties, and when funding bodies on all levels are talking more frequently of Artists and cultural organizations having to be more entrepreneurial, searching for ”sponsorship”, ”alternative funding” and ”market demand”, it might be time to kill some myths.
An issue of the Economist this spring (March 14–20, 2009) with a special focus on entrepreneurship, put forward five myths of entrepreneurs that needs to be put aside if we are to understand and catalyze entrepreneurship.
Myth 1. Entrepreneurs are lonely, socially incompetent geniuses that come up with great ideas. Instead, the article argues, entrepreneurship is a social activity. An entrepreneur might be very independent, but needs a business partner or social networks to succeed.
Myth 2. Most entrepreneurs are extremely young. Some have been very young, like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, the article lift forward. But a significant amount is also older, like Gary Buller who started the GPS company Garmin at the age of 52.
Myth 3. Entrepreneurship is driven mainly by venture capital. In fact, venture capitalists fund only a very small fraction of start-ups. Majority of money put into start-ups, the article shows, come from personal debts and of the ”three f:s”: Friends, fools and families.
Myth 4. To succeed, entrepreneurs must produce a world-changing product. Instead, experience shows that the most successful entrepreneurs focus on processes rather than products.
Myth 5. Entrepreneurship cannot flourish within large companies. Small start-ups are very important, the article points out, but also large companies are being successful in keeping an attitude of entrepreneurship. The company Johnson & Johnson is put forward as an example.
The personal computer, the mobile phone and internet has made entrepreneurship flourish. Many initiatives has grown since these technological changes were introduced, entrepreneurs come from all parts of the world. Due to falling prices in communication, a global market can be reached instantly.
One interesting initiative is the The Indus Entrepreneur (TIE), started in Silicon Valley in 1992 by a group of Indian entrepreneurs living in the valley. Today they have 12.000 members spread in 12 countries. The idea was to promote entrepreneurship through mentoring, networking and education. A network meeting is held in Stockholm, on 27th of May, organized at the Stockholm-based meeting place the Hub.
Etiketter:Business idea, Creative Industries, Creativity, crisis, Cultural Policy, Digitization, Economy, Education, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Flexibility, Globalization, Innovation, New economy, Resources, Self-employment, Silicon Valley, Social entrepreneur
During 4 days one of Europe’s most vibrant and intellectual vital networks met. Eurozine is a network of European cultural journals, linking up 70 partner journals and just as many associated magazines and institutions from nearly all European countries. Eurozine is also a netmagazine which publishes outstanding articles from its partner journals with additional translations into one of the major European languages. The theme this year was European histories. As described in the conference- reader:
Under the heading ”European Histories”, this year’s Eurozine conference will explore the role of history and memory in forming new identities in a Europe in change.
Throughout Europe, history is ceasing to be something for historians alone. Instead, it is becoming both a public issue and an instrument of politics. In the West, this progression can be traced from the wilful amnesia of the postwar years, through the mission of the ’68 generation to make the previous generation accountable for its crimes, to the obsession with history of the last two decades. In the East, the imposed history of the liberation has given way to the liberation of history. Nevertheless, highly different ”commemorative cultures”have formed and the comfortable historical consensus long obtained within and among western European countries has been undermined by the eastern enlargement.
Europeans are still far from an all-embracing ”grand narrative”, assuming this is worth striving for at all. But much would undoubtedly be gained by discussing the existing plurality of narratives in a shared space transcending national boundaries. The Vilnius meeting will provide the opportunity for such a debate.
Twenty years after 1989, the conference will also take stock of the dramatic developments since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Meanwhile, most former communist states in central and eastern Europe are members of the EU; others are waiting in line. But the transition from closed to open societies is far from over. Fierce debates on lustration and information surfacing from previously closed archives show that, today, 1989 represents not only an historic moment of liberation but also a political and social dilemma.
The discussions and panels this year where of highest intellectual level possible. The subjects where well chosen and sometimes very provocative and mind-bending. The speakers includes Timothy Snyder, Arne Ruth, Leonidas Donskis, Thorsten Schilling, Martin Simecka, Mircea Vasilescu, Irena Veisaite, Zinovy Zinik and Marci Shore. The Eurozine network is one of very few situations where east and west meet on equal level. We are trying to learn how a common Europe is possible and how we can create a real dialogue where we can speak on equal terms. We may not agree on the agenda, the topics or the war on Iraq- but without Eurozine this discussion never would have taken place. Best regards and very large Thank you to Kulturos Barai, Vilnius Capital of Culture 2009 and foremost the crew at the Eurozine office.
A very interesting article by Timothy Snyder:
Written by Olav Unsgaard, Manager at Nätverkstan.
Etiketter:Artistic practice, Creativity, Cultural Journal, Democracy, Development, Economy, Entrepreneur, Europe, European Histories, Eurozine, Globalization, International exchange, Lithuania, New economy, Research, Resources, Social entrepreneur
Art Villa Garikula is a contemporary Art center, placed in a village around one hour drive from Tbilisi. In the lack of infrastructure, Artist unions, and of space for Artistic work in the cities, Artists and curators try to fill this gap by taking initiatives and run projects. Many small projects start, to research, investigate to try to understand how to move in this new era, how to change.
The center is not a small project. It’s a big main building and a smaller one next to it, in constant need of renovation. A lot has been done already. There are bedrooms and studios, and a large garden to use for Artistic work, tenting or putting up exhibitions. And having parties. Art students and professional Artists come from the city to explore work forms and expressions, or for just relaxing. A new Georgian utopia is needed – Art Villa Garikula is where this new utopia will be formed, they tell us.
The visit to Georgia is part of the project EKAE 2009. People from Art, film, literature, publishing, cultural journals, education and crafts in Sweden and Georgia have met during a week in Tbilisi, having working meetings to form mutual project ideas within each area. The projects are planned to run during 2009-2010. Read more in posts May 12, May 11, May 9, and March 10.
Etiketter:Artist, Artistic collective workshop, Artistic practice, Creativity, Cultural Project, Democracy, Development, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Georgia, Innovation, International exchange, New economy, Renewal, Resources, Social entrepreneur
”We need a new Georgian Utopia”. Magda Guruli, Curator and Artist, meet us in her home in Tbilisi. 1970s and 80s was a very artisticly interesting period in Georgia, she tells us. Many interesting initiatives with artistic high quality were taken. After the Soviet period, this infrastructure fell and everything needs to be rebuilt. A whole new infrastructure is needed. This takes time. Perhaps the gap between systems will allow for new ideas, a transformed artistic scene? ”In the system of Art, we are still in the mentality of Soviet. We need something completely new”.
Many Artist have their own NGO, as the platform to work from. They have their offices at home. The driving force is to do Art with high quality, but also be part of transformation of society.
Human Rights Center is a center working with issues like freedom of speach, discrimination, injustice. Through newsletters, research, workshops, training and projects they want to work for mutual understandning between ethnic groups in Georgia and put the focus on injustices performed by the Georgian government. Informing the public is as important as working with target groups like refugees. They offer services like legal support and counselling in entrepreneurship.
”Through Art you can make the changes otherwise not possible.”
The visit to Georgia is part of the project EKAE2009, run by Natverkstan and financed by the Swedish Institute.
Etiketter:Artist, Artistic practice, Creativity, crisis, Cultural economy, Cultural Journal, Cultural Policy, Cultural Project, Democracy, Development, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Flexibility, Georgia, Globalization, Innovation, International exchange, New economy, Renewal, Resources
The Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (NCIBA) is a trade organization dedicated to supporting, nurturing and promoting independent retail bookselling in California. With over 500 members, including nearly 300 booksellers, the NCIBA has been an experienced provider of services for over two decades.
Hut Landon, Executive Director, walks us through the domains of – among others – George Lucas (passing by the Yoda-fountain) to their office in San Francisco. The association is led by a 15-person Bord of Directors, and their main task is to increase the sales for independent bookshops in northern California.
The competition from Internet selling has led to the fact that independent bookshops must be much more proactive in their way of marketing themselves. Localism has become a watchword; people must become aware of the importance of supporting their community stores, if they want a lively and prosperous neighbourhood. To explain this to the customers, Landon and his staff has made the poster ”Eight great reasons to shop at locally-owned businesses” (http://www.nciba.com/dls/8-great-reasons.pdf), which is now available to all NCIBA-members.
Apart from this, the association also arranges the NCIBA Trade how, produces the Holiday Showcase (yearly catalogue which features new titles), sets together workshops with topics of concern to the members and prints a weekly regional bestseller list.
Landon makes it clear that NCIBA does not regard the big chains, like Borders and Barnes & Noble, as competition. Independent booksellers have something that the big stores may lack: great book-knowledge, devotion and close relations with their customers. Amazon though, constitutes a big threat. The future will tell if David will stand a chance against Goliath, in Californa as well as in Sweden.
Written by Karin Lundgren and Marie Johansson, Managers at Natverkstan.
Etiketter:Artistic practice, Books, Cultural economy, Cultural Journal, Cultural Project, Development, Distribution, Economy, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Literature, Localism, Renewal, Research, Resources, San Francisco, Social entrepreneur
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
Committee of the Regions, a political assembly giving local and regional authorities within EU a voice within the EU structure, arranged a two-day meeting in Brussels on 20 – 21 of April. More than four hundred participants gathered, together with a hundred invited ”young talents” from many parts of Europe, to discuss what makes regions and cities creative, what would make Europe more creative and together with practical examples both in panels and study visits around Brussels.
The first panel discussion addressed the question ”What makes regions and cities creative?”. A crucial question for EU-Commission if the aim of the year of creativity and innovation is supposed to give results in more innovation and affect economy in a positive way. Many things were put forward, both by the panel, and also by the many young entrepreneurs, cultural practitioners and students in the audience. Why doesn’t education in Europe have more ideas about how to foster creativity? How come the visionary eyes of the young child is gone in the eyes of grown-ups? What happens going through the educational system? Many Art Educations are quite conservative, how could these change? How can Artists and politicians work more together? Are there educational tools to be used? Where do you turn to if you have ideas of something to start?
On the question ”If you get to choose, what is the priority action at EU level?” the answer was unison: Get rid of the blocks in EU, make access to EU money less bureaucratic!
A crucial question if the hopes of creative economy is to come true. There is also a close link between the year of intercultural dialogue in EU last year, and the year of creativity and innovation. If new creative ideas are to happen, the wide variety of competence, skills, cultural and ethnic backgrounds need to be addressed and taken care of in a different way than is done today. There are hopes that the creative field will be the new savior in the financial crisis. Perhaps it will be. But only if you do a correct analysis of the field, understand how running organisations, Artistic practice, projects work, using the competence in the field to find the right incentives to catalyze the potential – there are of course an enormous potential. If you don’t, and get stuck in policies and the overestimated perception of what creativity and innovation is, it will be more difficult. There is a balancing act that needs to be performed.
Artist Jörgen Svensson represented Region Västra Götaland with the project Art and Politics and the project Community Art Lab formed together with Nätverkstan, a project based on using creative processes as a tool for city development. Interesting projecs were for instant FIRST innovation Park in Brno, Czech Republic, and the housing project led by Territorial and Urban Development of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain, led together with Mia Hägg, an archtiect in Paris running Habiter Autrement. Urbact, European Programme for Urban Sustainability, just launched a report that can be found on the website.
The Community Art Lab project will soon be posted on this website. Other posts connected to this are for instand Robert McNulty from America for the Arts, on Migration and Entrepreneurs, the seminar in Barcelona in January on the same topic, and examples from India. A programme of the seminar can be downloaded here CreativeCitiesRegions16-04-09. Encatc had a smaller seminar in the afternoon of the 21st of April to continue the discussion, with interesting inputs from Pascale Bonniel Charier of experiences from Grand Lyon and Donato Guiliani from Region Nord Pas de Calais. Download the programme for the Encatc seminar here seminar_encatc090421.
Etiketter:Artistic practice, Brussels, Business idea, Community Art Lab, Creative Industries, Creativity, crisis, Cultural economy, Cultural Policy, Economy, Education, Encatc, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, EU, Finance, Innovation, New economy, Renewal, Resources, Västra Götaland
Marie-Louise Ekman, Artist and new Director of Dramaten (Royal Theatre) in Stockholm reflected in an interview in the paper Dagens Industri a few weeks ago, on issues in relation to her very new job at Dramaten. On the topic of resources within the Artistic field, she reasoned that it’s a necessity to be economical with these:
”In Art you need to be economical with resources. Not the economic, but Artistic ones”
The first meeting of the Encatc working group ”Entrepreneurship and Education in Cultural Life” was in held in Barcelona last week as a continuation of the seminar held by University of Barcelona on creativity and innovation.
Many things were discussed at the meeting. How can educators enable creativity in education? If we are to be more innovative, educations and educators need to be more open towards risk taking and failing, and how can this be taught in the class-room? To fail is part of innovation processes, how can we create a more open attitude towards this? Students are using education as a commodity they buy, becoming more customers than students. How can patience towards the not-planned discussions increase? To work in the cultural field you need all this; risk taking, ability to work in flexible and constant changing environment – how can education be formed to support this?
”We are living in a more globalized world, whether we like it or not”. With those words introduced Professor Jan Aart Scholte a seminar on Building Global Democracy. He continued: “The world also tends to be governed more global. Global problems need global response. But how?” As one of a group of academics, practitioners and policy makers, he has created a network called the Building Global Democracy Programme (BGD). Their aim is to give a clearer picture of the concept of Global Democracy, put it on the agenda, raise the consciousness about it, give publicity to different initiatives and hopefully formulate some proposals of what to do to create a more democratic world.
It is not an easy task. Finding new solutions to old problems. Even this small seminar demonstrates the difficulties. We are around 30 people in the room. The facilitator asks us to put questions to the panel as an input to the discussion? We are also asked to present ourselves by name and nationality, as if each and every one of us could represent her or his country. This is only one example of how old structures and perceptions are being reproduced.
However, the initiative is very interesting and worth looking into: www.buildingglobaldemocracy.org
Yesterday evening we witnessed a historic event in a huge exhibition hall in the outskirts of Belém. Tens of thousands of enthusiastic delegates to the World Social Forum greeted Brazilian president Lula as he entered the stage together with four presidential colleagues from the South American Continent, among them Venezuela´s controversial leader, Hugo Chávez. The meeting can be interpreted as one of the outcomes of the Forum process: civil society in Latin America has managed to get their candidates elected president.
Written by Karin Dalborg, Manager of Kulturverkstan, the Project Management Training Programme at Nätverkstan.
“Innovation has no large-scale production capacity, it happens in the small-scale initiatives”. Bo Öhrström, developer and cultural planner in Göteborg, describes his work finding the “white spots”, initiatives not visible at first sight, in a local milieu. What significance do they have for an area? In 2006 the project Faktor X started, run by Bo Öhrström and Annika Ottosson at the Region Västra Götaland to look into what the X factor in a local context was; what was the factors making some milieus flourish while others didn’t? The “white spots” were of significance, the study showed. “It’s like looking for the sparrows of the recession”, Bo Öhrström said, and made a comparison when he as a young student were looking for small-scale entrepreneurial initiatives within culture in a time of financial difficulties in Sweden. People around him wondered what on earth he was doing and why he didn’t but his effort into something more lucrative.
Yesterday (Nov 11) the Region Västra Götaland held their first conference with the 49 municipalities of the region invited. 450 people, politicians, civil servants and cultural practitioners, were gathered to discuss and listen to the capacity of culture in the local municipalities and on regional level. The winners of the day were the artists and project managers running projects against all odds, like meeting-places for youngsters in the suburbs that had been put down by politicians, and artistic processes in small cities (around 3600 inhabitants) like Bengtsfors. They were the white spots finally get the spotlight they deserved. Let’s hope it also means some money, so they can continue their work. As the project manager Merima Muharemovic put it on the question of what do politicians need, in form of character or to be good decision makers? “The question is not what they need, the question is: What need politicians do to win my confidence back”.
Read the report from the project Faktor X (In Swedish) here: fyrbodal-faktor-x-slutrapport.pdf.
If you walk into the backyard of Rue de Garet in Lyon, you find Grame, a center for production, creation and in-residence programmes for composers and musicians. Grame is part of a larger structure for contemporary musicians and composers in France, Les Centres de Création Musicale. By putting together composers and musicians with new technology, the capabilities of Internet, and with artists from all sorts of artistic professions, new music is created. The composer, they argue, is no longer a solitaire, alone with an empty sheet of paper. New opportunities has opened, which have widened their role. The centers work with several activities in combination; the process of creating music, research, residence programmes, training, production and realising projects like festivals and concerts, international exchanges, and cooperation with a wide variety of artistic groups.
Lyon is also hosting the next conference of the European network Encatc, on ”Intercultural Dialogue and Project Managament: New training programmes in a context of major challenges” on 16–18 of October. On the last Board meeting, placed at Grame in Lyon, the final planning was made.
On the website ted.com you find ”Ideas worth spreading”, a collection of inspiring talks from of all sorts of people and celebrities; speakers that talk about everything from the story of the long tail, design as art, digging for ants, health-care issues, the new generation of African leaders, climate changes, the building of US design firm IDEO and many other things.
On links below you find for example Charles Leadbeater, researcher from London-based think tank Demos; David Kelley, who started the Design firm IDEO; and Chris Anderson, editor of Wired and author of the book ”The Long Tail”.
”Everything in Turkey is self-organised from low to top level, from artist to the state” an artist tells us with a sigh. The biggest challenge in Istanbul for artists today is sustainability. Economic sustainability. There is no public funding for art and no social welfare system for artists. The art space we are shown by two artists, is only very temporary, they use it for free until the landlord needs it. With other jobs on the side they can pay their living costs, but their main focus and identity is the artistic work. They do projects that in the local context both educate an audience for contemporary art and stress the situation for the artists and society. They are pushing limits, putting forward issues ignored by political structures and exploring phenomena in society.
Many of the artists we meet talk about their extremely difficult situation. There is no infrastructure for art and culture. There is hardly an audience. This needs to be educated along the way. Most cultural initiatives that find economic support, do this among private money. Everything from small projects to the new Istanbul Modern Museum is supported by private money. There is no infrastructure – and there is no control. Unless, of course, you do something in the borderline of Turkish law saying that you are not allowed to offend the nation of Turkey or the ”Turkishness”. Many authors are still today, 2008, prosecuted according to this law.
Urban growth in Istanbul exploded after the 1950s and has created an organic growth of the city – something that must be every city planners’ nightmare. What was a few years ago small cities in the periphery of Istanbul, is today part of the city. It puts pressure on the infrastructure where public transport, shops, medical care need to be built in order to be in reach for all citizens. Around seventy percent of all buildings in Istanbul are either illegal or partly illegal constructions, we are told. Each year half a million people decide to move to Istanbul to look for jobs or change their lives. To try to count all inhabitants is impossible, figures varies from an official 10 million people to a more unofficial number of around 20 million people. There is a lack of basic infrastructure in society and it’s definitely lacking for artists and cultural entrepreneurs.
Cultural innovation grows in gaps in society. Where there are rapid changes, unfixed structures, there are room for entrepreneurs. The economist Joseph Schumpeter called this “creative destruction”; when old structures are destroyed, new things grow. He even said that old structures need to be destroyed, to let new ideas, knowledge and structures grow. Entrepreneurs are essential; people open to change, with a creative drive and visionary ideas. People that do the unexpected and push traditional limits. Like the artists we meet in Istanbul.
What is the connection between Schumpeter’s theory of creative destruction and the artistic entrepreneurs in Istanbul? If cultural entrepreneurship is part of building a society in transformation, what infrastructure is needed to support this? What decisions need to be made by politicians? Creative industries are widely considered as a driving force for transformation of rundown cities. But not much is done. As Dr Justin O’Connor in Leeds (UK) say ”…scratch the surface and it becomes clear that very few policymakers are paying proper attention to the health of the sector – an attitude that may have direct economic consequences”.
The seminars and study visits in Istanbul, Turkey, in February 2008, was part of the Nomadic University, Nurope. Istanbul was the fifth oasis. Information is found on: www.nurope.eu. Photos taken by Reino Koivula, Turku, Finland.
The quote from Dr Justin O’Connor is found in ”Creative cities. The role of creative
Industries in regeneration”. Renewal Intelligence Report, Northwest, April 2006.
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