The Savall Effect

March 18th, 2016 | Posted by admin in cultural policy | Europe | evaluation | news - (Comments Off on The Savall Effect)

IMG_5482 - Version 2We often hear about the Bilbao Effect in relation to culture and regeneration, or the Mozart Effect on our thinking , but what about exploring the Jordi Savall Effect around dialogue between cultures?  This week’s Voice of Europe session in Barcelona considered how we could support intercultural dialogue, including how we evaluate it’s impact.  This is a pretty important topic given Europe’s challenges around borders and identity.

Culture professionals know what an important contribution arts and creativity can make at the economic, social and cultural levels of a changing society.  But this requires investment and the demonstration of its impact.  Our discussions suggested the need for an evaluation framework for intercultural dialogue that is longitudinal and embedded into EU, regional and national funding schemes, and the working practices of cultural institutions.  Catalan musician Jordi Savall brings together European and Arab musical traditions and finds musical inspiration for everyone – a positive cultural effect to counteract an unrelentingly negative media narrative around cross border movement and integration.

pulling strings

July 6th, 2015 | Posted by admin in cultural policy | Europe | news - (Comments Off on pulling strings)
IMG_4587Last week’s EU Voice of Culture session on participatory governance of cultural heritage began with an exercise based on Arnstein’s ladder of citizen participation, asking us to stand next to a particular rung from passive manipulation, through tokenistic consultation to empowerment .  The reality is that this typology and progression route doesn’t fit with what actually goes on.  Our professional environments are more like a game of Twister than a stairway to participatory heaven.
What we do know is that there are principal actors in the process of participatory governance.  There are those that frame participatory governance of cultural heritage through policy and the application of resources.  There are those that manage cultural heritage through institutions, organisations and projects.  There are those that participate in cultural heritage through creation, dissemination, attendance, learning, and yes, sometimes, governance.
The debate in Florence demonstrated how differently these actors function and relate to one another in different places.  It also began to unravel the issues around a sector whose duty of care to physical heritage exists in tension to a growing commitment to intangible cultural heritage.  To what extent is participatory governance about determining what heritage is?  If everything is heritage then everybody has a stake.

If standard models can’t deal with the heterogeneous nature of Europe’s heritage offer and its context, can a more theoretical approach help?  For example the influence of Paolo Friere on the development of action research might be useful in understanding how all three of the principal actor groups can shape the future of participatory governance in cultural heritage.


va va virtual

October 13th, 2014 | Posted by admin in creative industries | digital | Europe | news - (Comments Off on va va virtual)


The Juncker administration is making encouraging noises about our virtual world.  A recent interview with Robert Madelin, director general of the European Commission’s Communications Networks, Content and Technology (CNECT) department talked about high-speed connectivity, an associated 300 billion euro investment, and looking again at enshrining a ‘fair use’ approach to copyright.  The EU knows this is a priority, but will action be underpinned with a commitment to Yochai Benkler’s networked information economy?  Benkler’s ‘Wealth of Networks’ may be old, but his analysis of how the ‘institutional ecology of proprietary business models’ is running head on into emergent social practices is still powerful, as is his point that a core common infrastructure is part of the solution. The European Commission’s latest digital agenda scorecard shows only a tiny proportion of households have a subscription of over 100 Megabytes per second (MBPS).  Benkler again- countries “don’t lack creativity but the basic tools of innovation”, so an EU administration that is prepared to tackle both digital pipework and our access to what comes down it, would be very welcome.

http://www.benkler.org/Benkler_Wealth_Of_Networks.pdf                                                                                               http://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/sites/digital-agenda/files/digital_agenda_targets_overall_2014_final_may_2014_green_v2.jpg     http://www.euractiv.com/sections/innovation-enterprise/robert-madelin-eu-not-putting-its-money-where-its-mouth-broadband


on the button

September 5th, 2014 | Posted by admin in Europe | news - (Comments Off on on the button)

DSC_0134Thanks to Europamedia for posting highlights and lessons learned after the first evaluations of the Horizon 2020 proposals.  The comments of the evaluators are probably valuable for applicants for any of the EACEA programmes as consideration of applications is far from a tick box exercise. Serious experience and expertise is being brought to bear, and their advice can be summed up in some key principles.

First of all make sure that partners are just that – partners.  It should be clear how they contributed to the development of, and the delivery of the project, and this extends to project management responsibilities.  But leadership and coherence are also important, and project design and linkages need to be crystal clear.  Build on previous projects and describe both end users and public benefit.  It is also not only important to think about market and audiences, but the resources and capacity applied to reaching them.  The Creative Europe and Horizon 2020 programmes are our companions for the next six years and deserving of our attention.

shifty digits

April 16th, 2014 | Posted by admin in cultural diplomacy | digital | Europe - (Comments Off on shifty digits)

IMG_0770Last week’s Brussels Creative Europe briefing bravely attempted to encompass the ‘digital shift’.  No simple task given the variegated digital Euro-picture.  One person’s streaming, is another’s comms crash.  And we remain in thrall to even the most banal geek-speak.   How can we begin to configure our expectations of digital as European cultural instrument?

The framing is difficult.  The European digital ‘pipework’ means that options differ for cultural producers in, say, Belgium or the Netherlands, with almost 100% superfast broadband coverage, or Italy with less than 15% or Greece with less than 25%.  Sociologists observe that digital communities can be shallow or even counterfeit, not what cultural funding is about.  Our tendency to uncritical technophilia and to name check digital innovation can devalue project assessment.  Dealing with the tension between the creative entrepreneurs desire to monetise Intellectual Property and the public benefit of open innovation and data is also a challenge.  The scientific project may sign over access to digital material in the interests of knowledge exchange, but should we expect cultural producers to do the same?

Understanding of the merits of digital marketing tools is widespread, but experts may be less up to speed in developing areas like theatre in the cloud, or even webcasting as delivered by NT Live or La Monnaie.  After all the streaming of  Le Page’s Ring Cycle was one of the artistic events of recent years for one of our most conservative audiences.

Digitally decorating cultural projects for the delectation of the funder is a temptation, and unpicking the cultural value of the digital component is a new evaluation challenge.  We should interrogate the digital elements of proposals as thoroughly as the analog elements and need the tools to do it.

Ref: Digital Sociology, Critical Perspectives 2013;   Ofcom – The European Broadband Scorecard.   Photo: author’s own, Paolozzi at Edinburgh University Science Campus