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


digesting digital

April 11th, 2012 | Posted by admin in cultural policy | digital | Europe - (Comments Off on digesting digital)

Trying to understand the impact of digital platforms on the current and future lives of artists (in the widest possible sense of the term) has been a feature of recent projects.   Arts schools, opera companies, jewellery designers, film producers, musicians and publishers are all changed as result of this technology.   There has also been some ideological adjustment.  Cultural heritage is now intellectual property.  Both impresario and artist are now entrepreneur.  So what does this mean for the stuff of our cultural lives?  Is a sense of authenticity irrelevant if the digitised experience can be more easily supplied and does culture need patronage if the digital version can be monetised?

A new project with the Council of Europe will be looking at both cultural participation and access to culture, and should provide some insights into our current cultural cosmology.  Engaging in cultural life is enshrined as a basic human right.  While there are limits to what extent access to a screen constitutes a cultural ‘taking part‘ there is also an exciting mash up of web based cultural consumption and production.   We need cultural policy that frames our digital lives with cultural values that read against those we apply to the gallery and concert hall.

Image: Obinna Nwuso

Why is it always about the screen?

March 18th, 2012 | Posted by admin in arts & science | digital | ways of working - (Comments Off on Why is it always about the screen?)

Ben Templeton of Thoughtden made a thought provoking contribution to NESTA’s Digital Day in Edinburgh last week.  The day gave us good examples from the English end of the scheme (video streaming to music venues; apps aimed at students; digital kiosks). Ben also gave us great homilies: “if a project isn’t working take things away, don’t add things”;  “failing early is important”; “its all about the content”;  “think about ways to make it more human”.  His examples were fun, especially the ones that got away, like ‘TamigArtchi’ an app where you looked after Tracy Emin on your phone.

I was left wondering how the haptic world and Ben’s entrepreneurial world will collide and if our sensorium will escape imprisonment in the screen.  There is an increasing interest in how the multi-sensory and digital are coming together.   Last years Sensory Worlds Conference (www.iash.ed.ac.uk/Sawyer/Conference.html) at the University of Edinburgh was but one example of international collaborations emerging around a rediscovery of the senses.

Ben reminded us of how frustrating it is that so much of our living requires paying attention to a screen and the creative digital challenge of emancipating us from it.

Reflections on festival planning in Berwick upon Tweed

March 10th, 2012 | Posted by admin in creative industries | digital - (Comments Off on Reflections on festival planning in Berwick upon Tweed)

BFMAF is a great mash up of art, film, entertainment, heritage, built environment, rural setting, intellectual curiosity and national borders, so discussions of what the festival should be, and even what it should be called are not entirely straightforward.  We now have the added complication of the explosion of digital, with its merging of cultural production and consumption, and cultural integrating of work created for many platforms.

It is clear that both the need to use the town itself as screen and canvas, and a thematic programming frame introduces a type of dynamic coherence to the festival, but what of the digital opportunity.  I grew up in Northumberland, escaping the cultural confines of rural life as young as possible.  Can a festival harness the glamour of film, universality and mutability of digital, and celebration of place to change, or at least enhance lives, particularly young lives?

The Festival Chair and co-founder, Huw Davies, is on the far left and the Director, Melanie Iredale on the far right of this picture.  http://www.berwickfilm-artsfest.com/