Posts with tag USA

Desert AIR

Joshua Tree in Mojave Desert in California is said to be a real magnet for artists. The specific nature, light, calmness and wilderness attract artists from all over the world and if you are lucky, you could get on one of the Artist-In-Residence (AIR) programs offered. Imagine a house in the desert, a studio to work in, and vaste surroundings to be productive in…

American artist Noah Purifoy (1917–2004) was one of these artists, based in Los Angeles but decided to move to Joshua Tree in 1989. He is said to be one of the most profound Assemblage sculptors, was a founding member of the California Arts Council, founding member of Watts Towers Arts Center in the 1960s, and an administrator of the Artist in Communities Programs.

If you come to Joshua Tree, drive till the end of the paved Yucca Mesa Road, continue the dirt road, take a left on another dirt road, you finally see the small sign welcoming you to Noah’s Art Site, kept by Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum of Assemblage Sculpture.

Take a right and you are there. Noah Purifoy spent thirteen years to fill the ten acres of desert with his art work of assemblage sculptures of all types of materials. Around fifty pieces of work is placed around in the sand, among hot dry winds and wild chipmunks building their nests in the few bushes around.

You can see his work Earth Piece (1999) where he uses material from the ground, and From the point of view of the little people (1994) a work that is the result of his interest in how nature participates in and is intricate to the creative process and perhaps also from his own up-growing with a family of thirteen people in a two room flat.

In the mountain you see amazing granite rock formations, and the thoughts go to the granite rocks of the West Coast in Sweden, where artists have settled to work with stone sculpting, among many other materials, and as Noah Purifoy’s museum, struggle with being visable in the outskirts of the big cities.

For the West Coast of Sweden Artist Collective Workshop visit here. For Artists-In-Residence programs in Joshua Tree, visit here and here. If you are visiting the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Museum, make an appointment before hand on the website!

13 juli, 2014

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Hands off!

”There is a shift in the balance of power”, says Tyler Stonebreaker, founder of Creative Space, ”Political boundaries are becoming less relevant. Instead it’s where the audience is”. And Los Angeles, described as one of three hubs of the creative industries in the USA, has this.

”We have content”, as Tyler Stonebreaker puts it, and sips on his Macchiato at Stumptown Coffee on South Santa Fe Avenue in the Arts District. The Coffee brewery is one of the projects Creative Space has been working with, helping them establish in L.A.

The Arts District has grown to become a thriving interesting hub for cultural and creative businesses in the past twenty years or so.

It’s an area that has changed over time from the middle of 1800s when it was the largest producer of wine in California; to become citrus groves and home for filmmaker DW Griffith who filmed parts of the first Hollywood films here; to by World War II becoming factories for the rail freight industry.

In 1960s and 70s artists moved in to the then abandoned industry buildings, something acknowledged by the City of Los Angeles who in 1981 passed the Artist in Residence (AIR) program which let artists live and work in these buildings.

We know this story. It’s seen in so many places around the world: abandoned factory and industry buildings turning into hubs, clusters, artistic residencies, that if rightly nurtured by the public officials can become an important drive for economy. Or at least that’s what politicians hope for. Thriving cities and regions that will be able to take up the competition of interest from tourists, being the place where people choose to live, and where entrepreneurs and the big enterprises decide to settle.

But can you decide to nurture this development? Or is it better for governmental authorities to keep their hands off and let things grow on their own?

British consultant Paul Owens once described art and culture growing like algae. They grow where you least suspect them to, where you don’t even would like them to grow, and they can’t really be nurtured. The best is to just keep hands off and let it grow as wild – and sometimes unwanted – as any weed.

It’s contradictory and for municipality and regional politicians and officials today’s million dollar question: How do you best nurture cultural and creative industries?

In the later years the interest for cultural and creative industries has grown in Los Angeles and a sense that these industries and their economic potential needs to be acknowledged more. The Otis report on the Creative Economy (2013) shows that one out of seven jobs in Los Angeles County and Orange County are related to Creative industries, it’s 1,4 million jobs in the state of California that are within the Creative Industries, and 7,4% of California’s Gross State Product.

Read also the report ”LA Creates. Supporting the Creative Economy in Los Angeles” by Keith McNutt: LA CREATES.

Information on Arts District is found here. Related blog posts here and here. Read also about artist P Nosa here and herePhoto of Tyler Stonebreaker is found here.

29 juni, 2014

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Life out of balance

Göteborg International Film Festival has taken over the city and people are rushing through snow and sleet to see films; join events, seminars, price ceremonies; or just do celebrity spotting.

On Saturday evening large crowds went to the big arena in the city to see the documentary from 1982, Koyaanisqatsi. The documentary was directed by Godfrey Reggio, photography by Ron Fricke, and music composed by Philip Glass, and quickly became a cult movie.

In a unique cooperation between the Göteborg Symphony Orchestra and the International Film Festival, this film was shown on 20 meter large screen with live music played by the Symphony Orchestra, the Symphony Orchestra Choir, Philip Glass, and the Philip Glass Ensemble.

The film with a title meaning ”Life out of balance” in the Hopi Indian language, shows exactly that – a life out of balance – as actual today as thirty years ago. Or even more so today.

For those who saw David Guggenheim’s documentary on Al Gore’s campaign to educate people on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, might find similarities. Both try to show a disastrous development for humanity and nature that just can’t go on.

But Koyaanisqatsi is more than a documentary. The film photo, the silent ongoing fast pace, and the live orchestra music in combination goes beyond any simple messages.


2 februari, 2014

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Banality of evil

On a three day seminar in Stockholm at Museum of Modern Art in 2007 to celebrate a hundred years since philosopher Hannah Arendt’s birth, the book on Eichmann in Jerusalem and the banality of evil was not mentioned, journalist and critic Ingrid Elam noticed in her review of the seminar in daily Dagens Nyheter. It was not until someone in the audience asked the key speaker, philosopher Agnes Heller, that this work was discussed. It was all good reasons for this; the focus was on Arendt’s other important work.

Yet, reading Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963) it’s difficult not to stay with her theories and reflect on their importance. They not only say something about the times in Europe during the Nazi era, they describe an on-going civil dilemma between bureaucratization and people.

Two things are especially terrifying and still today relevant.

One is the systematic way the in which the bureaucracy was built around, first emigration of the Jewish people from Germany, later the ”final solution” to send Jews to death centers. The language used to describe this wasn’t a mass-murderer’s, Hannah Arendt reflects, it was instead in terms such of ”programs” organizationally put under ”administration and economy”. Hitler and his men managed to build a bureaucracy in which the language around the ”final solution” was not immediately offensive or against people’s normal conscience. Finally, it seemed like a necessity, like an objective question that needed a solution.

The other is how she described Eichmann. He was not a monstrous murderer; he was not even particularly evil. She de-demonized him and he stands out neither as a diabolic character or a fanatic. He is just a dull bureaucrat with no ideas and a complete lack of critical thinking. He follows orders and is trying to do his job the best he can, wanting to climb to more important jobs and positions within the structure.

Since Arendt wrote this book in 1960s, even since the seminar in 2007, the European society has changed.

The economic crisis have had devastating effects in many countries with high unemployment rates and raise of poverty as a result. Art and culture has seen substantial cuts, of which effects for society we haven’t yet seen. Where will critical thinking be practiced?

Racist parties around Europe are filling seats in parliaments, some of them with roots in neo-Nazism. They changed their shaved heads to slick hairstyles and proper suits to better fit in to the political corridors. Their language is changing to not being immediately offensive and therefore suit a larger group of the population. Their main point on the agenda is limiting immigration, keeping a nation ”traditional” concerning everything from habits, culture and people.

As Ingrid Elam writes in her article (DN 15/1 2007), If Arendt had lived today she would have written about how today’s stateless people and refugees are handled by very ordinary people.

Hanna Arendt wrote the book ”Eichmann in Jerusalem” in 1963 and it is a collection of a series of articles written when she was covering the trial on Nazi Adolf Eichmann for the journal The New Yorker in Jerusalem in 1961. The book is translated into Swedish and published by Daidalos in 1996.

Article by Ingrid Elam in Dagens Nyheter (DN) on 15 of January 2007 can be found here.

In this year’s Göteborg International Film Festival (January 2013) they showed the film on Hannah Arendt by director Margarethe von Trotta.

American artist Andrea Geyer did an interesting piece on the trial with Hannah Arendt’s book as main base, Criminal Case 40/61: Reverb, 2009, which was shown, among other places, at Göteborg Konsthall in 2010.

Read related posts here, here, and here.

4 augusti, 2013

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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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Business or Humanities?

One of the success stories of Stanford University, with it’s premises in Silicon Valley outside San Francisco (US), is, it’s said, to be its close relation to the businesses in Silicon Valley. It’s a symbiotic relationship. They nurture each other and many success business stories have started at Stanford; Google, Facebook, Instagram, Apple, Hewlett-Packard.

Leland Stanford, a Republican governor in the late 1800s and who made a fortune from Central Pacific and Southern Pacific railroads, and his wife decided to found a University in their late son’s name. Stanford University opened its doors in 1891 and the device was that the University should not become an ivory tower, but ”qualify students for personal success, and direct usefulness in life”.  From the start, the close relationship to private funding, corporate research funds, and venture capital for start-ups, first for innovations in radio and broadcast media to todays digital technology, has been a base for the University.

The story can be read in The New Yorker (April 30, 2012) and gives an interesting light on the success story behind business ideas developed at Stanford and the philosophy behind it. But also the dangers of such a focus on success and making money.

The campus life and the atmosphere at Stanford is described as open to ideas, easy going, ”people are willing to try things”, risk-taking, access to venture and risk capital, creative. But there are also questions raised if Stanford has the right balance between commerce and learning, between getting skills to make it and intellectual discovery for its own sake? Is corporate money stearing research priorities?

David Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, who has also taught for many years at Stanford, express his worries that students uncritically incorporate the possibilities of Silicon Valley, but it’s a lack of students devoted to the liberal arts and the idea of pure learning. The one and simple question stearing choices is: What will I get out of it?

The philosophy now promoted at Stanford is the ”interdisciplinary education” and getting students to become ”T-shaped”, that is they have depth in a particular field of study and breadth across multiple disciplines. Social skills are put forward and an effort is to put together students with different majors (engineering, business, medicine, science, design) to together solve real or abstract problems.

David Kelley, the founder of design firm IDEO, is also director of Institute fo Design at Stanford (, and is driven by the mission to lift empathy in his students. He wants the students to learn to see the human side of the challenges posed in class and that way provoke creativity.

Still, fewer students get into liberal arts and humanities and many become, as said by a senior Miles Unterreiner, ”slaves to the dictates of a hoped-for future”. Students become instrumental and only get majors in subjects that lead to jobs, something also supported by Universities.

It’s an interesting development. Reading Steve Jobs story and listening to many of his talks, he puts two processes next to each other as crucial for his success: The development of technology and the liberal arts.

The post is based on the article in The New Yorker (April 30, 2012) ”Annals of higher education. Get rich U.There are no walls between Stanford and Silicon Valley. Should there be?” by Ken Auletta. The photo is from a TED talk on the web.

Read more from posts on IDEO, San Francisco, and the Arts from our visit in 2008 here and posts on other interesting US visits here. Read also here the report from Svenskt Näringsliv which last year promoted less money to humanity education in Sweden, a very criticized report.


25 juni, 2012

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How to make it in the art world…

For those interested in trying the New York Art world, the magazine New York (April 30 2012) is giving some handy tips in a nineteen rules handbook. Maybe worth looking through…?

Rule no:

1. Reject the Market. Embrace the Market. Hm. That contradiction. Always present.

2. Stay on Trend…Things we’ve seen a lot of lately, New York says, is Trash art, Cindy Sherman-esque, Neon Words, Candy-Colored Sculpture and Video-Game Art…

3. Make Art That’s Difficult to Collect. So only Museums will collect it. Example: Sarah Sze‘s The Art of Losing.

4. Be Young, Post-Black, and From Chicago. Examples to follow: Theaster Gates and Rashid Johnson.

5. Survive With your head down. Artist Alex Katz (84) remember how it was: ”A lot of people respect me” he says ”But people used to really hate my work. As late as 1975, I had a show in Paris and people were screaming in the gallery. They were saying this is terrible art and I should go back to art school”. Sort of Don’t Give Up.

6. Outsource to China. Artist Kahinde Wiley came to Beijing in 2006 and has set up a studio which has become his main production hub and second home.

7. Know These 100 people. An insider’s list of art insiders. The necessary list of gallerists if you are to make it in New York or perhaps the US…

8. Don’t Be Afraid to Trade Up. When a bigger gallery comes calling, listen. Since the recession, three powerhouse galleries have been especially aggressive in grabbing talent. And those are: David Swirner, Larry Gagosian, Sean Kelly.

9. Show up. Mainly: When you mingle and network, make sure you are caught on photos (and look cool…).

10. Pick Your Artists and Stick with Them. Whole-life art patronage – collecting work is just the start.

11. Buy the Same Thing Everyone Else is Buying. A shoppinglist would include, according to New York and art collector Adam Lindemann: Damien Hirst, Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, among others.

12. Get Born into It. The inheritance class.

13. Don’t Let a Gallerist Take Half the Profit. The collective gallery Reena Spaulings is an example of how to organize and show work in a different manner.

14. Be Ruthless. Making a killing in the art world’s dark market.

15. Pretend You’re and Outsider Even When You’re at the Center of Everything. The gallery Family Business is a gallery – but not.

16. Pack Your Bags, Fly Around the World, and Hang Out With Everyone You Know From New York. 

17. Be Everywhere at Once (But Rarely New York). On the same theme as Rule no 16. Be there but look busy.

18. Join the Establishment. Cling to Your Street Cred.

19. There Are No Rules. Break barriers. Do what you have to do.


11 juni, 2012

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Outlook on creative firms in US

FunctionFox, a Canadian company helping small companies improve productivity, has done a survey of more than two hundreds professionals within marketing, advertising, web design and the likes across the US. The aim was to see what these businesses are expecting the coming year in development or challenges in their businesses.

They found, for example, that even though times are hard and economy swaying, 43% of the small creative firms they surveyed expect to increase staff during the year. 52% expected to keep the current staff level.

Firms employing seven or more staff were more likely to add staff during 2012, while with six or fewer employees were more likely to maintain their staff.

It also showed that creative companies with eight or fewer employees are most optimistic about having a revenue growth. Large firms were more careful in their anticipation.

Read more here: FunctionFox-Creative-Industry-Outlook-2012.pdf.

18 april, 2012

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Crowd funded sewing tour

American artist P Nosa, he draws art on a sewing machine, is planning a sewing tour in the US with the mission: ”…to navigate the country promoting people’s creativity, providing a tangible patch of their ideas, and to teach how to use alternative energy sources”.

To fulfill his idea, he has created a website where you can donate money. If he gets to the total amount of the cost (7500 USD) he is on his way, otherwise the tour is cancelled.

The funding idea of the project goes in line with the idea of crowdfunding, where people pitch in a sum of money, big or small, to an idea they like. If fully funded, the projects runs. It’s the thought of ”the crowd decides”. These types of alternative funding ideas are growing and in Sweden you find for example the site Funded By Me.

Support the sewing tour here. Read another post of P Nosa here.

17 januari, 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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More fragile than their creations

Two tables away from me in a smaller restaurant in New York the other week, I spot the well-known author Salman Rushdie talking intensely with a friend.

I see his backside, but still recognize his strong appearance. I remember seeing him November 2008 in a TV-sent seminar together with Italian author Roberto Saviano arranged by Svenska Akademin under the name ”The free word and the lawless violence” (original title: ”Det fria ordet och det laglösa våldet”). Two writers living under death threat because of their artistic work.

The day after the visit at the restaurant I read an article in New York Times (April 20 2011) written by Salman Rushdie.

Art can be dangerous. Very often artistic fame has been proven to be dangerous to artists themselves.

The imprisoning of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and other activists and artists in China is the latest example, he writes. And when the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, of which Salman Rushdie is the chairman, invited Chinese writer Liao Yiwu to the festival opening on April 25, he was denied permission to travel to the USA.

The latest issue of the Economist (April 16th 2011) follows the same line of thinking with the headline: ”China’s crackdown”. The detention of artists and activists in a steady flow sent to prison and ”disappearing” is following the latest ”freeze” in China and at least three things casts hope of a more open China into doubt, an article notes.

The detention of Ai Weiwei; the duration of this crackdown is longer than the former; and the cruel method of the repression picking up people under ”arbitrary detention rules and then made to disappear”.

I was reminded of Salman Rushdie’s strong article in New York Times reading this.

The lives of the artist are more fragile than their creations, Salman Rushdie writes.

The poet Ovid was exiled by Augustus to a little hell-hole on the Black Sea called Tomis, but his poetry has outlasted the Roman Empire.

We can perhaps bet on art to win over tyrants. It is the world’s artists, particularly those courageous enough to stand up against authoritarianism, for whom we need to be concerned, and for whose safety we must fight.

He could be writing of himself.

If we ever forget why art is important, this is a reminder.

Read former post on Ai Weiwei here.

29 april, 2011

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Fractured Atlas in New York

In the middle of the Theatre District, on the tenth floor on 35th Street on Manhattan you find Fractured Atlas, a business service organization for artists. For a service organization, it is well hidden from visitors. For obvious reasons, it shows. Fractured Atlas is solely an online tool and service for artists; a virtual meeting place and service provider.

It started off in 1998 as a performing arts producer in downtown New York City and they worked with theatre companies, choreographers, musicians, and performance artists. In 2002, they reinvented themselves as a service organization with the aim of impacting a wider segment of the arts community.

They have around 16.000 members, artists around the US, with a majority of members in New York State and California. They help artists within all art forms with what they need most in the US: Health Insurance Program and Fiscal Sponsorship.

Alongside these two flagships, Fractured Atlas also provide technological solutions for networking and calendar of events; matchmaking of free studio spaces; cultural asset map that collects data of cultural activity in an area, and other useful information.

This non-profit organization is completely internet-based with the aim of having all useful information online in a system easy to learn for the members. You can take easy step-to-step courses in what to think of when freelancing or running an organization, or apply to the Health Insurance Program and use the other services on your own wherever you are situated.

It is virtual service centre, focusing on what they think artists need most in form of insurance and sponsorship, and do not work with entrepreneurship. Instead, others do this like for example the incubator in San Francisco; Intersection for the Arts (look in the end of this post for a link to the visit Nätverkstan did in 2007).

Adam Natale, Director of Partnerships and Business Development, says there is a need, though, to build more knowledge at art schools and universities of entrepreneurship.

The little state funding that has been available in the US is declining and there are many examples of what being too dependent on grants and sponsorship from foundations could mean. The latest example being the old theatre in Seattle, Intiman Theatre, having to lay off all staff and close down during the rest of 2011 to try to get finances right.

The tradition among artists, at least within the performing arts, is to become a non-profit organization. Many artists are thinking of them as a charity and ask for grants. Even though Fractured Atlas offer an umbrella fiscal solution for these organizations, a legal and financial system by which a legally recognized public charity can apply for grants and receive tax-deductible contributions, this is not enough.

The troubles for Intiman Theatre are not only due to declining grants from foundations, but also to ”management missteps” as you can read in an article in The Seattle Times (November 12, 2010). It is, though, Adam Natale says, an example of the vulnerability for many theatres in the US depending on grants as their main stream of income.

Read about the Nätverkstan visit to Intersection of the Arts here.

26 april, 2011

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Sustainability as the new quality

It’s a busy time at the Design Management Program at Pratt Institute in New York and I have managed to grab the only whole in the calendar for a long time. Mary McBride, Director of the Program, take me past her office on the way to our meeting room, an office with the windows overlooking the busy 14th Street at Manhattan filled with around ninety applications for thirty places. All applicants are being processed and the majority interviewed. The attitude is to always to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Students are designers in organizations and businesses that would like to learn more about Design Management. They come in with experience and can use the knowledge directly in their organization.

In a world struggling with significant social and ecological challenges, a new economic paradigm – shaped by innovative design thinking – must transform business strategies and tactics.

The words are Mary McBride’s in an article in Design Management Review (volume 22, number 1, 2011) where she puts forward the Triple Bottom Line model as a way of thinking. It proposes to advance the sustainability agenda and encourages simultaneous pursuit of economic value, social equity and ecosystem quality.

”Sustainability is the new quality,” she tells me and in the Design Management Program this perspective is integrated in all courses. She talks about strategy and strategic thinking rather than using ecological terminology, which suggests an out-of-the-box thinking and a process starting with a company’s goal and mission all the way to realization, distribution, and customers.

Radical innovation, she says, is to go to the root of a business’ mission and start an innovation process. The problem is rarely innovation in it-self, but the diffusion of innovation.

To manage this profound change in companies’ values and attitude and the ”ecology of decision-making”, creators are needed. Businesses usually don’t like surprises, while creators are thrilled by the unexpected.

Two reflections come to mind as I leave the meeting: The strong commitment to sustainability as a life matter for all parts of society in business, economical as well as social, and the belief that creators play a key-role in this transformation.

21 april, 2011

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Filemaker Development Conference 2010. Part two.

As one of more than thousand developers from all over the world that attend the Filemaker annual conference I can choose between over 80 sessions in little more than three days. Unfortunately I can´t attend every session I find interesting; there are just too many going on at the same time. Today at nine, just after breakfast, I have to decide whether to attend a session named Improve Quality, Reuse Code, and Program Efficiently or another named Speaking the Same Language. Understanding Your Client and Helping Them Understand You. Two very interesting topics but I have to choose one before the other. The first one is compelling but the second is more what I need, to be honest.

The main theme this year Connect with your world is well mirrored in the schedule and you find sessions on PHP, SQL and ESS but, again, Filemaker Go is the talk of the day. With Filemaker Go on an iPhone or iPad you can reach your Filemaker solutions from any place but the office. That makes sense. I bought an iPad and I am impressed. It’s way better than I expected it to be. In Sweden you have to wait until fall to get a piece but when it comes it will be a big hit. I am Sure!

I attended a very scary session called File Maintenance and recovery: tools and Best Practices. The speaker was Alexei Folger and she was awesome. Really bad stuff can happen with files but there are some good techniques and strategies to prevent a disaster. But it was a bit creapy to here in a theatrical voice ”…and then you are in big trouble!”


Devcon is an International conference with developers from different parts of the world but the typical attendee is American, actually. At least you can say it’s an Anglo Saxon world. I have seen or talked to people from Britain, Australia and New Zeaand but not from the Latin world or Asia. There is a lot of attendees from Japan.

Its´s striking how big Filemaker is in the US. I learnt that Filemaker is used in schools, universities, really big coorporations and in govermental offices. On a high percentage.

Tonight we enjoyed a dinner at the USS Midway in the San Diego Harbor. The ship was on duty as late as in the Dessert Storm. Dinner was served on the actual flight deck and during the Californian sunset we listening to live music zipping a drink or could hear docents telling stories how it was once up on the time… One of the best moments so far.

This morning I finally got my suitcase from the airport. It was lost in Frankfurt during the stop over and I had to buy new clothes every day while img_0880waiting for the trunk to arrive to my hotel. The downtown hotel, by the way, is something extra. Its very old with an interior like those in a horror movie but with a very helpful staff.

To morrow is my last day in San Diego!

Written by Christian Stensöta

Christian Stensöta is a colleague at Nätverkstan in charge of database and Filemaker solutions for the cultural and civil society field. He is visiting the Filemaker Development Conference 2010 in San Diego, USA, August 15-18.


Filemaker Go:

Horton Grand Hotel:

19 augusti, 2010

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Filemaker Development Conference 2010

It was a Grand Opening!

On four giant screens we could see the a thin and charismatic man given us the facts: the numbers are great, the future is bright. A big Wheel in the Sky. The speaker was the president of Filemaker Corporation Dominique Goupilon in his keynote speech. A fairly short but intense opening speech was followed by appearances of the company´s engineers. One after the other they went on stage to describe new features and the crowd was ecstatic!

Chief engineer Andrew LeCates made some entertaining presentation of FilemakerGo, a new and promising product on the IOS platform. Filemaker on iPhone and iPad. This is the most interesting aspect of Filemaker for the moment and I am going to attend every session on that topic during the conference.

The opening session was over and time to party. Live music, food and drinks and lot of networking. Tomorrow agenda is packed with sessions from 8 in the morning until 10 in the evening and I can hardly wait…

Written by Christian Stensöta

Christian Stensöta is a colleague at Nätverkstan in charge of database and Filemaker solutions for the cultural and civil society field. He is visiting the Filemaker Development Conference 2010 in San Diego, USA, August 15-18.

Have a look at:

18 augusti, 2010

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How are you effected by the economic crises?

Listen to a conversation on how some cultural organizations in USA cope with the economic crisis and how they have been affected.

14 oktober, 2009

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Bringing home ideas

In 1871 a big fire destroyed most of Chicago City. Three hundred people died, 100.000 became homeless (total inhabitants at the time was 300.000) and the material damage was devastating. Queen Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland at the time, felt, say the story, such compassion with the inhabitants of Chicago that she quickly decided to send a large box of books with the thought that all their literature must have gotten burnt up. What she didn’t know was that Chicago didn’t have a public library and hadn’t had one. With all these books arriving from across the ocean, something had to be done and the city quickly decided to build the first one.

The Swedish right-wing politician Valfrid Palmgren was a lady in forefront. She had a remarkable career and was, one of many things she achieved, 1905 the first female Amanuensis at the Royal Library in Stockholm. In 1907 she went on a long trip to USA to investigate the idea of public libraries for all. In USA libraries was seen as a civic right, placed in the center of cultural and educational politics. She was quite cultural conservative, it’s said, at the same time as she fought philanthropic values and saw it as her task to bring the idea of public libraries to Sweden. Literature should be accessible to everyone, and is a right beyond questions of class, was her idea and she hoped libraries could act to mitigate class differences. Libraries should not be led by politics, market or religious ideas. The librarians should therefore be people with education and expertise. Back in Sweden after her trip over the Atlantic, she within four years founded the first children and youth library in Sweden in 1911.

In Chicago, the city in 1991 built a ten floor high new public library on South State Street, this is, I am told, the world’s largest. True or not (there are many things we are told during the visit in Chicago are the biggest, widest, largest). Nevertheless, it’s an incredible building; the architecture is post-modern with reminders of old pompous eras, the collection of literature impressive with books, journals, magazines, audio for every taste.

Read the article written by Swedish cultural journalist Ingrid Elam in Dagens Nyheter of Valfrid Palmgren (in Swedish), published in June 2007 as a reflection concerning the then newly formed the Committee of Inquiry of Cultural Policy, with the task of revising Swedish cultural policy. You can also download it here: allmanna-bibliotek-en-borgerlig-ide-dn. Read posts on the Swedish Cultural Policy here, here and here. And libraries and entrepreneurship here.


27 juli, 2009

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More traces of Chicago

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.

The study to  Chicago is part of the conference ”Creative Entrepreneurship and Education in Cultural Life”, held in Chicago on July 16–18 2009, organized by Columbia College Chicago and Encatc.


19 juli, 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.


19 juli, 2009

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The Green City

On the 25th floor at the Department of Environment we get a good view of the City Hall rooftop garden. It was planted in 2000 as a demonstration project to show how a green rooftop improves temperature and air quality. 20.000 plants were planted, more than 100 different species of native prairie plants known to grow in the Chicago area, to make sure they would endure the climate and the rooftop conditions of being exposed to sun and wind.

The project was a success and the green roof has been shown – and proven – to serve many benefits to the city and the building: It improves air quality, conserves energy, reduces stormwater runoffs and is a sort of self-sustained heating system. When it’s cold it has an isolating effect and a hot summer day it’s cooler inside. But only on the City Council side of the building. In the other half of the building is the County Council and they have decided to not join the project. The rooftop is divided in two halves, one with the green roof, the other without. And the effects are direct. Measures have been done showing the direct benefits for the working environment inside the building of the half with the green roof. One half is the future, the other is left behind.

The initiative has now spread and around 400 rooftops in Chicago have green roofs, Mr Larry Merritt, Public Information Officer at Department of Environment tells us. And also the private sector see the benefits. More an more private firms install green roofs.

Chicago was once called the Green City and during the time Mr Richard M Daley has been Mayor of Chicago (elected 1989) 300.000 trees have been planted in the city. By the end of the decade, the park district each year sowed 544.000 plants, 9.800 perennials, 156.000 bulbs, and 4.600 shrubs (Kotlowitz, 2004). The Mayor has put a sustainable environment high on his agenda and perhaps the largest green project could be said to be Millennium Park. The Park took six years to build, finished in 2004. and is built on top of railway-rails and several parking garages, hiding the still active railroad under a 24.5 acre (97 124 square meters) large green roof. The green gardens, together with a concert hall designed by Frank Gehry, several art works like Anish Kapoor’s ”The Bean” is attracting tourists and has made Millennium Park to be the second largest tourist attraction in the USA, we are told (Las Vegas still holds number one).

An article of  green roof projects can be found in the latest issue of the Swedish edition of National Geographic. Also read National Geographic News about the Chicago green roofs. In the book ”Never a city so real. A walk in Chicago” (Crown Journeys 2004), written by Alex Kotlowitz gives both facts and insights of the city.


15 juli, 2009

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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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