Permits for the possible

March 3rd, 2013 | Posted by admin in creative industries | cultural diplomacy | cultural policy | Europe - (Comments Off on Permits for the possible)

Bismarck’s homily about politics being the art of the possible popped up in a presentation last week at roughly the same time that John Kerry praised Germany’s ‘exemplary leadership’ in Europe.  Contrast this with the general despair at  the lack of political leadership amongst European colleagues.

To be sure we had Jimmy Deenihan, Ireland’s Minister for things cultural making a commitment to the Creative Europe programme at a Bozars event to mark the Irish presidency of the EU.  But the feeling was more of a European Union that has been rendered more impotent to articulate the possible and to do something about it.

The optimism around integrated cultural and creative industries investment stimulating jobs and opportunities risks being overtaken by a ‘less of the same’ fatalism.  More than ever we need to show how both the creative economy and cultural co-operation can set the pace for economic recovery and political harmony.

Image: Orla Barry’s ‘Mountain’ at Bozars

There Be Monsters

January 27th, 2013 | Posted by admin in creative industries | cultural policy - (Comments Off on There Be Monsters)

red-sea-monster-serpentEarly maps let us know to expect monsters once beyond charted territory.  Two recent discussions prompted some reflection on the challenges of responding to the shifting shape of regional cultural administration in England. The first concerned the role of the architectural agency and past regional alignments and marking of territory. The assembled professionals, academics, researchers and practitioners were clearly in some difficulty without the established regional framing of the scope of their activity.  Then came the guesswork around future administrative boundaries when positioning for bids to the BFI UK Audience Network.  So while regional focus slides away in the face of less money and more ‘London-centrism’ we are in the time of alliances.  Our abilities to co-operate are more important than ever.

Image:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Carta_Marina.jpeg


September 12th, 2012 | Posted by admin in creative industries | digital - (Comments Off on Nestastic)

MSP John Swinney’s contribution to Nesta’s Edinburgh innovation event was heartfelt: “innovation and creativity are relevant in all walks of life”. His examples were mostly in the public sector and mostly emphasised both the potential for innovative use of technology to be responsive to diverse user needs and how this saves significant amount of public money. The most surprising fact of the session was John Woodward’s graph showing that Scots watch ever more TV, over 4 hours a day at present. He argues that television remains at the forefront of communications developments.  John also provided the scariest slide, illustrating MirriAd’s digital post production product placement.   The most pleasing initiative was Leith’s ‘Local Edge’ project, which has developed a ‘disloyalty card’ to encourage local shopping as part of their hyper-local working. The most satisfying – central belt independent cinemas collaborating to launch an online slate of independent films and cross marketing with performing arts neighbours.  http://www.nesta.org.uk/assets/events/nesta_in_edinburgh

‘Ha! hold my Brain; be still my beating Heart.’ – How to measure the culture we love

July 15th, 2012 | Posted by admin in creative industries | Europe | evaluation - (Comments Off on ‘Ha! hold my Brain; be still my beating Heart.’ – How to measure the culture we love)

Recent work with a small group looking at performance indicators to measure culture across Europe resulted in some sensible proposals for an index based on existing national data collection practices.  We had the opportunity to explore how meaningful the results may be at meetings of Compendium Experts and CultureWatchEurope in Helsinki.

The need for evidence based policy in the Creative and Cultural Industries was recently restated by Aviva Silver in Creative Europe briefings, but the issue of the relative values of quantitative and qualitative data needs more work.  The even trickier question of how it then translates into policy and investment decision making  is complicated by two contradictory discourses: creative entrepreneurship as economic engine and culture as as an important human right.

We have the theoretical frame and research tools to sort this out, but they need to pulled together.  Drew Wylie’s full presentation can be found at:www.coe.int/t/dg4/cultureheritage/cwe/Helsinki_en.asp

Learning’s Labour’s Lost?

June 12th, 2012 | Posted by admin in creative industries | cultural policy | digital - (Comments Off on Learning’s Labour’s Lost?)

Our court shall be a little Academe,
Still and contemplative in living art.

A number of current projects involve liaison with Universities in the hope of shaping common creative developmental ground with arts organisations and creative enterprises.  A tour round the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) new Ayr Campus last week with Prof. Malcolm Foley revealed a simply astonishing array of television, radio and music facilities.  But how to connect this up with the local creative economy, and how to connect students with an industry whose heart lies so far away?

These challenges are hardly new.  Years ago, when I worked at the Laban Centre (in a role that, in retrospect, was mainly restoring students after choreography class annihilation), I was constantly struck by the mismatch between supply and demand in the dance job market.  Later collaborations with Further Education in regeneration initiatives led to some anxiety about the overall quality of educational experience of young students attracted to, say, music and technology courses.  Campus university arts facilities like Warwick have to work hard if they are to connect to their local community.

It is reassuring that connecting students into both industry and society is now heading up the academic agenda.  I was really impressed by Dani Salvadori’s presentation of Central St Martins graduate programme with local commissioners at last year’s Creative Entrepreneurship conference in Tallinn.  This year both Northampton University’s ambitions for social enterprise driven student opportunities and Dundee’s creative campus vision are but two examples of initiatives that have great potential to provide a platform for education and learning collaboration that delivers growth and jobs for students and established professionals.

Image: Stuart Hepburn & Jill Cronin at UWS’s new Ayr campus