Burns unit

October 23rd, 2014 | Posted by admin in creative industries | cultural policy | news - (Comments Off on Burns unit)

IMG_2371Drew Wylie is working with Nordicity on a review of the Scottish Literature Sector for Creative Scotland to provide an overview of contemporary literature and publishing in Scotland, identify areas of strength and gaps in provision, & make recommendations for Creative Scotland’s strategic approach to literature, languages and publishing. The scope of the project includes qualitative and quantitative research involving individual writers and practitioners across multiple forms, literary professionals, literature organisations (including Scotland’s book festivals, which currently number more than forty), development workers, agents, booksellers, and publishers. Areas of enquiry also include young people & literature, the market for Scottish books, the impact of digital change on literature and publishing in Scotland, and Scottish writing internationally.

If you are involved with, or interested in literature in Scotland please take the time to complete the attached survey:


& be damned

August 20th, 2014 | Posted by admin in creative industries | cultural policy | news - (Comments Off on & be damned)
IMG_1416A wide range of Scottish publishers assembled at Edinburgh International Book Festival to discuss ‘Publishing the Nation’. Scotland has 110 listed publishers, employing around 1,500 people and publishing about 3,000 titles a year. Each publisher talked of growth and their excitement about new digital platforms, albeit with a nod to the pressure on margins from the global player.  Clearly these businesses are doing something right, and, just like in classical music, an oversupply of talent and brilliant product leads to intense competition.   Just because a business sector sounds ‘learned’ or academic doesn’t mean it isn’t ambitious. Just because it wears comfortable looking cultural clothes  doesn’t mean it’s not competitive.  Just because it lacks the acquisitive  gaze of the speculator doesn’t mean it’s not looking for opportunities.  The cultural and creative industries success story didn’t happen by accident in the UK. Agencies need to find better ways to sustain and develop the confusing whirl of content creation and platforms, and politicians ways to protect cultural value in the marketplace.  Should a post referendum flowering of creative output occur in Scotland then we need a publishing sector that can bring it to the world’s attention. https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/the-festival/whats-on/publishing-the-nation

screen for attention

June 27th, 2014 | Posted by admin in creative industries | cultural policy | news - (Comments Off on screen for attention)
IMG_0668The recent Scottish Film Summit was attended by over 200 professionals from every part of the sector, from festivals and exhibition, to production, direction and distribution.  I chaired the Exhibition Panels and the overarching conclusion was simply that we need more of everything: better production needs more production  and large gaps in exhibition infrastructure exist across Scotland.  More filmmaking and more screens need new routes to investment (such as Sweden’s levy on cinema tickets) and new approaches like the French approach to screenwriting.  There was also an important sub-text around fragmentation.  An established producer reckoned that the panel was the first time that the exhibition side of the sector had explained what they do and how they do it to him.  Exhibitors felt that producers paid scant attention to them and their audiences.  Nobody seemed quite sure who was responsible for horizon scanning and strategising, particularly for digital developments, and there was a plea for co-ordination and even a clash diary.
The appetite for film is a distinctive element of Scottish culture and there are so many examples of great innovation, from Screen Machine to the International Festival that framed the summit.  But at times it felt like we had travelled back half a century with producers washing their hands of audience development, and exhibitors of product development. Yes, we need more to be better, but we also need holism to be effective.


enter stage right

June 17th, 2014 | Posted by admin in creative industries | cultural policy - (Comments Off on enter stage right)

IMG_0345The narrative of the day  is creative entrepreneurship.  At one level this is just a flag of convenience, renaming processes that have underpinned cultural production and distribution for centuries (Prince Nikolaus Esterházy, Hadyn’s favourite creative entrepreneur).  But in reality the practice is not so benign and reflects the current ecosystems debate.   If you place a monetary value on a coral reef do you help protect it, or make it expendable?  Has everything a price, including our cultural heritage.

Henry Ford famously said  “A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large”.  But the production led cultural sector can adopt a ‘build it and they will come’ approach and a more energised approach to connecting to the wider public in a time of shrinking public subsidies is clearly a good idea.  Similarly, if the current attention on entrepreneurship leads to wider understanding of the interdependencies of our mixed creative economy then that should loosen up routes to investment.

In some ways the entrepreneurship ‘meta narrative’ is pathological.  It foregrounds the one brand or person and hides everything else.  There is a process of social production going on all the time in arts and culture.  Nothing happens in a vacuum. Yet the Scottish social enterprise success story is underdeveloped in the culture and creative industries.  There are alternative enterprising narratives to underpin innovative approaches to connecting up culture and markets, and these may be more sustainable outside of the metropolitan hothouses, oversupplied as they are with skilled creative labour.   (Photo: author’s own – Hidden Door Festival)

Mirrorball & mìorbhail

May 12th, 2014 | Posted by admin in cultural policy | news | ways of working - (Comments Off on Mirrorball & mìorbhail)

IMG_0258Three of this year’s Turner Prize shortlist studied at Glasgow School of Art, prompting Moira Jeffrey (http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/may/10/dont-call-glasgow-contemporary-art-scene-a-miracle) to knock down some ‘Weegie’ myth making around the city’s new arts supremacy, and to consider its antecedents.   These range from a ‘do it yourself’ culture (perhaps at odds with GSA’s predominance) to the outward looking and international artistic gaze of the city’s culture, to a surprising nod to dance hall culture.  What struck a chord was the hymn of praise for Glasgow’s central tenements.  The artists work in these high ceilinged vernaculars is what brings me to GI every year (http://glasgowinternational.org), and resonates way back to the 1990 European City of Culture, surely a game changer for Glasgow.   These informal ateliers energise a scene that triggers both investment and civic cultural pride (1).  Subsequent UK cities of culture have become more domesticated -Westminster mediated – and the creation of a 24 year legacy more improbable.  And how do we allow artists to colonise our city centres when the tenement is now the penthouse?

(1)  A few examples: http://www.trongate103.com; http://www.southblock.co.ukhttp://www.waspsstudios.org.uk/news-events/exciting-future-briggait-glasgow