Posts with tag Self-employment

The Slöjd Incubator

The Slöjd Incubator, the incubator for handicraft started as a pilot project by the public authority the National Swedish Handicraft Council, has now finished it’s first round.

Hopefully the pilot project will be prolonged. Participants were very happy to have a chance to develop their ideas around their art and how to live on their art, and the process has been working well as a complement to their university studies within in art, design, and craft.

Ten participants now finished the process and on the final seminar a few of them got a chance to tell their experience for a larger invited audience. On this seminar Nätverkstan presented it’s survey and final report on the incubator.

Find it attached here (in Swedish): Slöjdinkubator.pdf. Read another post on the Slöjd Incubator event in Umeå in May here.

22 juni, 2014

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End of Sharing?

Getting funding for renting facilities during a project period or to build shared spaces is getting harder and harder. Your project should preferably be run with excellent content, but no physical spaces.

There seem to be an idea among funding authorities that sharing spaces, need for offices and physical meeting places have ended. In these digital times you may as well sit at a café or at home, have meetings on skype, through facebook groups or twitter.

Eventhough this of course suits some people, we see a parallell trend that is showing the opposite; the need for meeting and sharing physical spaces.

In Göteborg we have several examples, and not only those build up from the 70s-90s. People gather to find solutions for expensive equipment and places to meet and work all the time.

But just to start with the 70s, Konstnärernas Kollektivverkstad Göteborg (Collective Workshop for Artists) was formed in 1974 with the aim to share heavy equipment, ceramic ovens, facilities for metal, wood, graphic art for professional artists. You find several of these collective workshops around Sweden. These are still up and running.

Medialab in Lagerhuset started in 1998 to share hard- and software, printers, video editing equipment, and work spaces. Other initiatives are ABF Medialab for study groups, Frilagret for young people, Collaboratory, the DIY days which is all about sharing knowledge, ideas, and spaces, the newly started CopyPaste. Several of these initiatives just decided to work together in the network Göteborgs Makerlabs. Just to mention a few.

The lastest in the row is newly opened Kompani 415 in Kviberg which is about the same thing. An empty house in need of some renovation that has been taken over by an association to provide working spaces, studios, and rentable rooms for people within arts and culture. So that people can meet, talk, discuss, and share.

Who has stated that we see an end of sharing?

31 maj, 2014

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Final dazzling days of Kulturverkstan Class 2012…!


T
he final semester of the two-year International Culture Project Management Training Program, Kulturverkstan, youdo an internship at an cultural och social organization, or run your own project. The internship is prepared thoroughly with planning classes and where you decide a theme or question you would like to look into during the internship.

This adds up to a public presentation in the end of the semester with invited guests, discussion partners and (or) opponents. This year’s addition of the presentations held the same high quality as last year, with interesting topics such as Cultural Heritage and Digitization; Food Trucks’ introduction to Göteborg; Art, status, and conditions; The concept
of class – is this still relevant?; Alternative forms of exhibitions; and many more (read more here).

The last thing to do is Wednseday’s graduation party and then we will meet 35 new excellent Cultural Project Managers out there!

 

26 maj, 2014

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Once more: Ka–tziing!

Have you ever heard the sound of money pooring into to your cash register? The sound is illustrated with a big ”Ka-tziing” (at least in Swedish…) when figures like Scrooge McDuck in the Donald Duck cartoons is pooring more gold coins into his already dense cashbox.

”Kablonk” documentary filmer Bengt Löfgren illustrated the sound of the few coins he could cash in after his large film projects…

Read more of the conference Ka-tziing here, enjoy the photos from the event and take a look at genvag.nu.

Photographer: Carina Gran, www.carinagran.se.

 

20 november, 2012

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Ka-tziing!

Have you ever heard the sound of money pooring into to your cash register? The sound is illustrated with a big ”Ka-tziing” (at least in Swedish…) when figures like Scrooge McDuck in the Donald Duck cartoons is pooring more gold coins into his already dense cashbox.

”Kablonk” documentary filmer Bengt Löfgren illustrated the sound of the few coins he could cash in after his large film projects. Despite many successful film projects, winning prices and being shown on television, his pockets were still echoing empty he said with a smile. But you have to keep on, not wait for the money, and continue ”listen, learn, and develop” he concluded.

One of the stimulating points of the conference ”Ka-tziing!” in Göteborg on November 14, was when artists within film, literature, visual art, handicraft, performing arts, and music told short pecha-kucha stories of how they live on their art.

The conference and small market fair gathered 250 energetic and interested participants from art, culture, regional office, and organizations working with cultural entrepreneurship, to discuss, mingle, network, and get information of what Region Västra Götaland is doing to facilitate the entrepreneurial side of a cultural and artistic freelance work.

Guest key note speaker was Giep Hagoort, researcher of Utrecht School of the Arts (Holland), focussing on the entrepreneurial dimension of cultural and creative industries (also the title of his latest booklet), addressing the main point that all discussions and research on art and cultural entrepreneurship have to start in close relation to the actual artistic scene – to the practice.

Researchers have a tendency to sit in their ivory towers and not meet with the practice. To reach new interesting research, this needs to be challenged. And a quick hand-up on how many researchers this conference had attracted showed one person.

Perhaps no glimmering new solutions of how to get Ka-tziing instead of Kablonk in your pocket, but ideas, perspectives, inspiration, and a lot of time to mingle and look for connections among those who can support in how to a little better sustain yourself.

The conference was an initiative by Region Västra Götaland and Knep, an educational project run by Nätverkstan, supported by the European Social Fund. Funding the conference was European Social Fund and Region Västra Götaland. Performers during the day was Uttryckslabbet. Download the program here: Ka-tziing_inbjudan.pdf.

15 november, 2012

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Hundred years of arts and crafts

Arts and handicraft in Sweden is getting a well-earned upswing. This year The National Association of Swedish Handicraft Societies celebrates 100 years with exhibitions and celebrations of what arts and crafts have meant for households and villages in Sweden and how this art form has developed. In Stockholm Liljevalchs Konsthall show the Jubilee exhibition and around the country cities and villages show handicraft exhibitions.

Halmens Hus, The House of Straw, in Bengtsfors, a small town by right by one of the many lakes inDalsland, is an exhibition hall and boutique celebrating the straw. Making household decorations, adornment, hats, and many other things out of straws left over from the harvest was an important side income for many households on the countryside during the 19thcentury. The work was well organized and in some areas a small industry grew of women doing straw craft on commission. Beda Bohlin was one such initiator, in today’s vocabulary she would be called project manager. She led courses in straw craft during the summer season and worked as straw craft adviser in wintertime.

She was the contact person between the association for straw craft and its members. She biked around with orders of straw hats, left material, and gave professional advise. In the  middle of 1940s, the crafters could earn up to 3000 SEK a year from this commissioned work, a substantial amount of money at the time. A similar story is found on the West Coast of Sweden where knitting had the same function. In the 1930s another lady, Augusta Teng, led knitting courses for knitters around the coast, marketed and sold the products. She contacted the wife of the County Governor, Emma Jacobsson, who helped them. This way the well-known and successful company Bohus Stickning started, selling designed knitted sweathers, hats, gloves made by knitters along the coast on an international market.

In Dalsland elementary school teacher Erland Borglund, started Stenebyskolan, the School for Crafts and Design,in 1934 with the aim to ”create a school where hand and mind were equal, a strong basis for craft”. Today the school is part of the University of Gothenburg.

Crafters from the school started Not Quite in 2001, the artist collective based in Fengersfors, and together with Dalslans Konstmuseum, Halmens Hus, Stenebyskolan and many other initiatives in the area, Dalsland is an important area for sustaining and development of arts and crafts. Work from artists based in the area is also shown at the Jubilee exhibition, among them woodwork by artist Jonatan Malm.

30 juli, 2012

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Artists and the Arts Industries

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.

Also read related post on work here, here, and here.

7 maj, 2012

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On the road in Västra Götaland

0001glNätverkstan is running workshops around the Region of Västra Götaland (West Sweden) on The Art of living on Art, a project funded by European Social Fund.

So far the first course, with workshops taking place at four different places in the region with around 8-10 participating artists in each, has ended and a new round of courses started. Last Saturday we had the full-day conference with David Karlsson talking about Cultural Industries, Gothenburg Combo on how they live on their art, and Ulla-Lisa Thordén on selling and pricing with all participants gathering in Vänersborg.

This is the road-trip around the Region of Västra Götaland this fall meeting artists in Skövde, Borås, Ulricehamn, Uddebo, Tranemo, Lidköping, Gerlesborg, Vänersborg. More to come!

Read more here.

29 november, 2011

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Workshop Tallinn

We have gathered, around ten students, teacher and artists from the Cultural Management Program, Art University and the field , to work on the art of living on art and, for some, the burning question of what will happen after studies are finished.

The invitation is from the MA Cultural Management in Tallinn at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in the center of the city. In the small room great plans and ideas are drawn up, reflections and dreams are high as well as down to the practice of everyday work. So, what needs to be done? What active steps can I take? What is the surrounding discussion and context in society at the moment?

Tallinn is this year Cultural Capital and in Estonia the cultural industries gained momentum in 2003-2004. Figures say that creative industries are around three percent of Estonia GDP and that the added value from this field was larger than any other branch or industry (see Tallinn City Enterprise Board). Recently a large conference was held in Tallinn on Creative Entrepreneurship for a Competitive Economy with some major speakers in the field invited. Talking to people in the cultural field there seem to be a gap between the large plans of creative industries and the artists. Someone should perhaps take an interest in mitigating this gap.

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26 oktober, 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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Art in Nairobi

We get to see a beautiful piece by choreographer Matthew Ondiege and his four dancers, a dance shifting in pace from fast to slow, from harmony to stress and internal conflicts. He is also working with the group Uwezo Mix Dance Theatre that bring together disabled dancers with other dancers to form contemporary dance pieces.

Visual Artist Mary Ogembo tells us an amazing story of how Art can be sold. A chinese person came across her paintings over Internet, I think it was, and contacted Mary to see if she could buy some. But since Mary is in Kenya, and the buyer was across oceans and countries, this was a bit difficult. And how should Mary verify that she was Mary? So she contacted different trustworthy people running organizations, Art exhibition halls and so forth so that the buyer could get references. An embassy official came to visit her in her studio to see if she existed. And after this process the buyer bought eight paintings, Mary got the money and rolled the eight paintings in packages and sent them across the sea.

Visual Artist Salah Ammar was one of the Artists part of the newly opened exhibition at the Ramoma, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Nairobi. Salah Ammar shows his work, pieces showing that his Artistic career has gone through many different styles. He shows his work with soft and careful hands, and with lots of respect for his viewer. When speaking of his Art his eyes get a spark, you can see that he loves it. He has so much inside, so many colors and ideas that still wants come out, he tells me.

Visual Artist Caro Mbirua shares studio with Salah Ammar and shows a different style of work. She carefully brings out painting after painting with motives hidden in mist, a sort of secrecy surrounding the women in her work. When she describes them, she says ”I do beautiful Art”, and we say ”you need to be more specific”. But it is really a good word for her work. Beautiful.

And on my bedside table, I have writer Doreen Baingana‘s book ”Tropical Fish”. An Ugandan writer, twice nominated for the Caine Prize in African Writing now living in Kenya. She wants to start a literary group with writers that can meet on regular basis, discuss literature and support each other in finding new possibilities to live on their writing.

These are just a few of the very talented Kenyan Artists taking part in the workshop ”The Art of living on Art” in Nairobi on Sept 7-8, 2009.

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16 september, 2009

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The Economy of Creativity • Nairobi

I was stunned with what the government official was saying. I had to hear it referred by another person before I believed it.

The workshop days on the topic ”The Economy of Creativity” started with a TV-show with well-known actor and journalist John Sibi-Okumu as the presenter. Invited to the panel were celebrities from Kenyan business and creative life. Hip-hop artist Nameless shared panel with business man Manu Chandaria,TV-personality Dan Ndambuki known for his very popular show ”Churchill Live”, a representative from the Rugby team, Anders Öhrn from Swedish Institute and the governmental official. It was a talk of the economy of creativity, obstacles and possibilities for creative industries in Kenya, the relation between culture and business life. The governmental official said that a cultural policy is coming and a national endowment for the Arts will be in place, something very welcomed by the Artists in the audience although many afterwards told me that they heard this so many times. And as she talked she was addressing problems in the field, and she explained the problems with something like: ”People have an attitude problem” and ”this needs to be changed”. People have an attitude problem? A clip will be on youtube soon, so let’s check if she really said this.

After the show, mainly cultural entrepreneurs and some representatives from business life gathered on a one and a half day workshop to discuss how cultural entrepreneurs and investors could empower each other. The thought was that business life needs the creative industries, as well as the other way around. After long and intense discussions and the full commitment of participants acting as investors investing money in cultural projects, it was quite obvious that venture capital and cultural projects and businesses have difficulties finding each other. Investors will not find the opportunities they are looking for in these projects and Artists’ might not be interested in this sort of capital. They just don’t make enough profit to be interesting for the investor and the major drive for the Artists is not profit, but meaning. For a few it might be a way, and for them it would perhaps be interesting to build bridges, but for the majority this is not a solution. It is important, all-the-same, to learn from each other and there are benefits for both business and cultural field to interact more, was a thought from the conference.

On the evaluation after the workshop, a few conclusions were drawn to strengthen the creative industries and the awareness of the same. Maybe not so new, but even more strongly:

1. Strengthen cultural entrepreneurs and professional Artists with management tools and other similar skills. Education, workshops and training is needed.

2. Strengthen the creative field as a sector through better organization and structure.

3. Promote the creative industries and show the potential for other fields. Raise awareness with businesses and investors.

The workshop was funded by Swedish Institute and Strömme Foundation, support from the Swedish Embassy in Nairobi,  in the project ”Empowering Creators and Investors” run by Pratik Vithlani in cooperation with GoDown Arts Centre and Nätverkstan. Read more under category ”Kenya” on the side on this site.

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13 september, 2009

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Nairobi Workshop • The Art of living on Art

Expectations were high when we started the workshop on ”The Art of living on Art” with visual artists, theatre people, a writer and dancers and choreographers in Nairobi, Kenya. How do I do to be able to do what I like most? How do you as an Artist to balance the business and the artistic side? How do you find ways to sustain your artistic work? How can you find the missing link between production and the market? Open a window to see new things?

We start quite frankly. We don’t have any answers. There are not any quick fixes you can follow that will solve all the obstacles or solve how to live on Art. You have the answers yourself. What we do is putting up the room for reflection and a structured way to reflect and think of where you are, your obstacles, how to get past these, your future ideas, how to deal with changes.

Eleven professionals within the Artistic field gathered to go through this process for two intense days. It’s interesting to see that Artist from different contexts as Sweden, Turkey, Georgia, India and Kenya have so much in common. The obstacles, difficulties and challenges put forward are very much the same, although the contexts are so different.

The workshop in Nairobi was organized by GoDown Art Center in cooperation with Nätverkstan. Read more about ”The Art of living on Art” under the catogeory with the same name.

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8 september, 2009

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Kulturverkstan celebrates 10 years!

In 1999 Kulturverkstan, the two year Project Management Training Programme within culture started. The idea was to combine theoretical analysis with practical action plans, academic level with practice in the ”real world”, studies at Lagerhuset together with internships on organizations in cultural – or other – fields in Sweden or elsewhere. Lecturers from academia combined with festival managers, writers, philosophers, project managers, theatre directors, actors, film makers. And to work with students with all artistic expressions, to be cross-cultural. Thirty-five students each year have been accepted to Kulturverkstan after an extensive application process. Around three hundred students have examined and 85% have gotten jobs or started their own business after education. A number we are proud of.

On Saturday we celebrated Kulturverkstan 10 years with a big party and event at Röda Sten, a cultural house and exhibition hall by the channel in Göteborg. The Artist Lisa Nordström started the evening with her piece 7 States of Passion followed by Islandic writer and poet Andri Snær Magnason who talked about is award winning book ”Dreamland – a Self-Help Manual for a Frightened Nation” (2006) and the situation in Island after the financial crisis. Old students showed what they are working with, speeches, food and lots of dancing to the DJ:s captivating music the whole night long. The new cultural price in Göteborg, in memory of our late colleague Lars Lövheim was inaugurated.

A book on Kulturverkstan 10 years will be available soon (in Swedish)!

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24 augusti, 2009

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The Art of living on Art • Final days Steneby

The summer academy ”The Art of living in Art” has come to an end after three intense workshop days at Stenebyskolan (School of Steneby) in Dalsland. Guest lecturer and workshop facilitator was Sian Prime, among many things MA at Goldsmiths University in UK.

The Artists taking part in the academy have been musicians, composers, visual artist, actresses, who have worked all summer on their action plans. They have in workshops in the beginning of summer visualized their future, looked at their skills, hinders and possibilities, money and meaning, what they put their time on, how to plan your actions differently to achieve what you want and so forth. They have had group meetings with a facilitator during summer, together with individual coaching sessions. And now, in Steneby, the final days of building relations in relationship modelling, working on their offer, discussing the literature they have read, drawing some conclusions. Everything in workshops, open discussions, talks two and two, and individual thinking and writing.

”Don’t stop look around you. Don’t stop caring. Don’t stop listening” is one of Sian Prime’s many interesting thoughts. There are three questions to keep constantly with you when thinking of what you offer as an artist and how this could interest others:

1) Why should I care?

2) Why should I trust you?

3) Why should I believe you?

You need to have your heart (1), guts (2), and head (3) with you when engaging with other professionals. Another thing is not to let money hinder you. You are not the only one not driven by money, Sian Prime explains, so are many others. ”Money is rarely the driver”, she says, you have to find out what drives those you want to work with and engage in building professional relationships. In the long run, this can build new ideas that you can live on, but you have to get started.

”Treat no as a question”, is another point. Always ask what the ”no” means. What does it stand for?

Nätverkstan runs the summer academy in cooperation with Göteborg University, Sian Prime, and the Västra Götaland. The Academy was the first of three summer academies. The experiences will also be put into the new Masters Programme at the University on Art and entrepreneurship that will be developed this year. Read this post on the start of the course.

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21 augusti, 2009

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Textile Cooperative ”Desi”, India

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.

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19 augusti, 2009

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Chicago Conference traces

After the opening speeches of the conference ”Creative Entrepreneurship and Education in Cultural Life”, the poet Marc Kelly Smith took the floor. He is best known for founding Poetry Slam in 1987, a new presentation and reading style of poetry now spread around the world. Is he an entrepreneur, he asks himself and the audience, before he changes into one of the characters in ”Wilderness”,  a poem written by American (and on-and-off Chicago-based) writer and poet Carl Sandburg. He performed ”Chicago”, another poem by Sandburg, and also a piece by the English poet D.H Lawrence.

Three intense conference-days going from theoretical discussions and reflections to practical examples from USA and Europe in workshops and seminar sessions, as well as study visits were included in the conference, arranged by Columbia College Chicago and Encatc in Chicago on July 16–18. The main topic – if and how artistic education should include entrepreneurial skills – were tossed and turned over the days. The participants, professional educators and artists from many different countries, shared their experiences and expertise. Many examples were put forward, where management skills, career planning, project planning was part of the curricula, a trend that goes well into today’s discussion of entrepreneurship. The question of cultural economy was pursued; both the perspective of the impact of culture and art to the economy in society as a whole, something put forward by many studies; and the economy for Artists and how these professionals could build a sustainable economy on their profession.

Conference programme can be downloaded here: program_pdf.

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19 juli, 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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Five myths of entrepreneurs

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.

25 maj, 2009

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Authors

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

Cultural and Social Entrepreneurship

On this blog we would like to explore entrepreneurship from a cultural and social point of view. Or rather put forward entrepreneurial initiatives within these two fields.

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