‘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

less global – more international

May 9th, 2012 | Posted by admin in cultural diplomacy | cultural policy | Europe | news - (Comments Off on less global – more international)

Are creativity and internationalism interdependent?  Does culture wither on the vine, thistle or Egyptian lotus without intercultural refreshment, and can positive links between nations be sustained without socio-cultural empathy and appreciation?

We have national, we have global and we have trading blocks.  Well that’s how it seems to look to the Government officials at the recent ‘Back to the Future’ event at Coin Street, discussing civil society engagement in the EU Structural Funds.  Here we had a stark contrast between the Scottish and Welsh approach of using European investment to empower communities to the English ‘money out, money in’ command and control approach.

The mediation of international relations by national governments also surfaced as an issue at the Creative Scotland International Think Tank in Edinburgh.  Almost all participants (mostly from Scotland and Nordic countries) were signed up to the importance of intercultural dialogue.  Yet Scottish culture is often simply folded into negative UK responses to European cultural investment.   Bongiwe Ruth Mautla (skyping from South Africa) talked of the importance of the artist in expressing the relationship of people to the land.  Views that resonate across rural Scotland.

Dialogue across national boundaries is a tangible cultural activity.  Let’s hope that Creative Scotland manage to keep up the momentum towards a more outward looking and international culture that, in time, will energise both creative output and cultural economy.

Duncan Higgins talked about his work on Solovki Island
Duncan Higgins presented some of his work created at Solovki (Solovetsky Islands) in Northern Russia at the Creative Scotland International Think Tank in Edinburgh

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

Hands Across the Water

March 31st, 2012 | Posted by admin in cultural diplomacy | Europe - (Comments Off on Hands Across the Water)

Is there a new spirit of internationalism about?  The last fortnight seems to have been full of overseas intent, much of it across the North Sea.  First there was the film festival planning day that spoke to a Northern European trans-national film culture.  Aspirations for cultural collaboration with film-makers in ports that were once the trading life blood of Scotland and the North of England.  Next came the Shetlands workshops, the Nordic feel of the place, and the creative opportunities looking East.

This week the Nordic Horizons event at the Scottish Parliament with Icelandic economist Professor Thorvaldur Gylfason described how the Icelandic post crash ‘pots and pans’ revolution migrated into a proposed ‘people’s constitution’, stimulating great debate over a Scottish constitution and citizen involvement.  It was a great advertisement for trans-national co-operation and intercultural dialogue.

It seems as if there is a new internationalising interest in the creative and cultural industries sector in both Scotland and some of the English regions.  Some of this may be just a case of eying up funding opportunities in the face of a domestic investment drought, but there are those that see wider benefits from looking across the water.

The recent consultation on the new Creative Europe proposals attracted commentary on future trans-national working.  The upcoming IFACCA and  Council of Europe Compendium authors’ meetings in Helsinki is another avenue, and the focus on cultural participation in the latter should offer many opportunities for dialogue that advances both policy and practice.


Help win increased investment for creatives

March 8th, 2012 | Posted by admin in cultural diplomacy | cultural policy | Europe - (Comments Off on Help win increased investment for creatives)

Help convince the UK to support additional culture and creative industries investment.

It’s time to add your voice for the need for investment in the cultural and creative industries sector in Europe.  Many of us have spent years helping to accumulate the evidence base for the value of culture and creativity, but to little effect as so many in the higher echelons of political, public and business life seem allergic to this kind of strategic investment for the future.  But here we have our colleagues in the European Union successfully plugging away at a major uplift that could, if it successfully negotiates the final hurdles, make a significant impact on employment opportunity for the young, sectoral growth and European competitiveness.   Budgetary growth of 37% to a €1.8bn. seven year programme from 2014 is just the kind of intervention that is needed.  Furthermore the bringing together of the Culture and MEDIA programmes will offer new opportunities for cross sectoral development and a co-ordinated response to the digital opportunity.  A new guarantee fund (€210m.) to be delivered by the European Investment Fund aims to lock in the banks to investment opportunity and to be SME friendly.

The UK could be a real barrier to this initiative and was one of only six countries to oppose the previous bid to raise the budget in this area. It is important that the UK sector makes its voice heard so that Government understands what there is to gain from backing this proposal.  The deadline for consultative responses is fast approaching (16th March).  The following link takes you to the site that explains how to respond and provides more information.