Piracy, Copying, Protection, Exploitation and acknowledgements

At a Create event in May focused on and the problems faced by independent designers in developing sustainable business models. Dr Nicola Searle and Siân Prime delivered two presentations on their research and support of fashion designers and the industry more broadly, both focused on Intellectual Property (IP), the potential IP has for encouraging innovation and the under-representation of women in protected IP.

Siân Prime focused on how few women had gained recognition for their innovation in the creative industries, and how IP regulations were not only difficult to apply to fashion, but also the costs (financial and time) associated with pursuing infringements meant that it was hard for independent designers who did not have access to finance outside their own generated income to access legal frameworks.

Dr Nicola Searle introduced the issues of copying and its impact on the fashion industry. She detailed the idea of trickle down, trickle across and trickle up copying, pointing to the difficulty of finding fashion items that do not borrow from prior fashions. She noted high-end design houses dictate fashion through starting a trend which confirms a design house’s success, creative capacity and ranking in the fashion hierarchy. With the designs displayed in catwalk shows and couture lines as loss-leaders that establish exclusivity while promoting the designer’s cheaper, higher margin lines. High Street chains’ designers are then are inspired and the copying confirms high-end design superiority and speeds up the fashion cycle by making designs peak in popularity more quickly. She also noted that the fashion industry ‘copies’ colours as it collectively decides the seasonal Pantone palette, and that fashion brands also copy street-styles.

While protection is important, Siân pointed to the ability to participate as an equal when asserting rights as essential, and research shows that there is a lack of recognition for female innovation in patents and design rights. In particular the diversity of contributors to the work is rarely acknowledged or rewarded under existing IP legislation. Existing IP regulations do not recognise the team who bring their craft to the work and interpret the design. Interesting examples of where craft has been absorbed in to designs are in Westwood’s collaboration with artisans from Burkina Faso and artists from Kenya where the financial return is key to the women involved in the manufacture of textiles and decoration, and some acknowledgement is given to them.

The complexity of acknowledging the skills and craft that inform new design is clear and yet central to ensuring that the market understands authorship of work.

Sian Prime & Nicola Searle

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Paris on a Rainy Day

 

“Societies in transition” is a nice bland phrase which can encompass a very wide range of perspectives. In the case of the recent conference I attended in Paris under that title, the perspectives were very specifically oriented around socially progressive and radical forms of transition and included keynote papers by Nancy Fraser and Hilary Wainwright (A new politics from the left?).

Co-organised by the EMES network, the conference was an explicit attempt to bring together scholarship and research on social movements, the social and solidarity economy and the commons. The attempt was largely successful, in my view, but could have been augmented by some more nuanced approaches.

First though, a few words about the phrase ‘social economy’, which is not heard very often in the UK (nor in the USA, in strong contrast to its usage in Canada). Indeed, for many in the UK their only encounter with the phrase will have been the disastrous Social Economy Alliance cooked up by a number of people who should have known better and which resulted in possibly the most deplorable attempt at political marketing, ever.

Such attempts to locate the social economy as something middle-of-the-road between left and right mirrors the continued fate of policy engagement around the third sector and civil society. It was Blair who established the Office of the Third Sector within the Cabinet Office (perhaps he thought, in ignorance, that the third sector had something to do with his – and Giddens’ – disastrous ‘Third Way’ politics, who knows?) Blair’s Office of the Third Sector was rapidly re-named Office for Civil Society by Cameron and it has recently been responsible for yet another attempted redefinition of social economy as anything funded by social investment or so-called ‘mission-led business’.

Such is the ease with which language can be captured. For this reason, the Societies in Transition conference – and most sensible people working in this area – now talk instead about the Social and Solidarity Economy, which has been defined as follows:

“Social and Solidarity Economy encompasses organizations and enterprises that: 1) have explicit economic and social (and often environmental) objectives; 2) involve varying degrees and forms of cooperative, associative and solidarity relations between workers, producers and consumers; 3) practice workplace democracy and self-management. SSE includes traditional forms of cooperatives and mutual associations, as well as women’s self-help groups, community forestry groups, social provisioning organizations or ‘proximity services’, fair trade organizations, associations of informal sector workers, social enterprises, and community currency and alternative finance schemes”. (Peter Utting, as quoted by the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy – see also his excellent recent edited book)

With this definition we can see more clearly why there is a growing interest – well represented at the conference –  in exploring links between the SSE, new social movements, the many various attempts to develop alternative ways of conducting economic activity, and the potential for renewing progressive and radical politics.

There were many fascinating papers at the conference, focussing on for instance the political variety amongst UK transition towns, the dark side of some eco-villages, several papers on the Buen Vivir movement in Latin America, and a group of papers on complementary currencies and cooperative finance.

However, the papers on progressive and radical politics were, for me, the least successful. In part this was because of another aspect of the conference, namely to explore the current relevance of Karl Polanyi and especially his most famous book The Great Transformation. Whilst I can see that there is a superficial attraction to applying his idea of a ‘double movement’ – in which attempts to introduce social protection against unfettered market forces are then resisted and counteracted – I am fairly confident that political theory has become far more sophisticated, notably in analysing the shifting balances of powers between the symbolic, the mediated, the legal and the sovereign exercise of illegitimate force. But that is for another day. In the meantime here is a picture of my rain-soaked trip along the River Seine.

 

Richard Hull

Class and the ‘creative class’

There’s been lots of interest in questions about culture and inequality in the news over the past few months (this from The Observer is a good example). As a result, research work we’ve been doing here at ICCE has generated lots of interest. Along with a paper on inequality across the cultural sector and a paper on inequality and acting (both co-authored with academics from the London School of Economics and the University of Manchester), I’ve been working on a new set of questions about social class and creative work.

Influential academic work has suggested that creative people should be open, tolerant and meritocratic, not really interested in defining themselves by supposedly outdated ideas of social class. Using data drawn from the acting project, I’ve found that class is very important to how creative professionals, in this case actors working in the UK, define themselves. Of all of the people we interviewed, there was only one group, middle-aged men from affluent backgrounds, who really distanced themselves from ideas of social class. This reflected narratives of gentlemanly modesty found in other sociological research with this social group. In contrast, those from less affluent backgrounds who had managed to have a career in acting tended to be more heavily invested in the language of class, with their ‘working class’ roots figuring as an important part of how they told the story of their lives and their careers.

I presented this work at an event on Aesthetics, Morality and Class at the University of Warwick, which was a seminar dedicated to work in progress. The audio and slides should be available in a few weeks time. Although it will be a few months before a final paper has been written up, the initial findings suggest that class is still very important as a frame for those working in creative jobs, in contrast to existing theories of the creative worker as an individual free from the constraints of grand social categories such as class.

Dave O’Brien

Cultures in disarray

A commentary from  Courtney McLaughlin,  a student on our MA Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship programme at Goldsmiths.

 

CMCI King’s College Conference – ‘Cultures in Disarray’

11-12 June 2015

ICCE Blog Post

‘Cultures in Disarray’ is a large and loaded theme to cover in a two-day conference. When I submitted my abstract for the King’s College Culture, Media and Creative Industries’ (CMCI) annual postgraduate conference I approached the subject with a certain amount of trepidation. How do you define a culture in disarray? Or perhaps more importantly, what culture isn’t in some sort of disarray? The subtitle of the conference – ‘Destruction/Reconstruction’ – immediately brought to mind one of my favourite cities and a place that I am lucky enough to have called home for part of my life, Berlin. Berlin, of course, has been built, destroyed, and rebuilt many times over and in the context of the creative industries and the idea of the ‘creative city’ it is an excellent departure point for talking about cultures in disarray. Luckily enough, the selection board at CMCI agreed and accepted my proposal for a paper presentation.

The conference began with a fascinating opening keynote from Dr. Peter Dahlgren of Lund University in Stockholm. Dr. Dahlgren discussed the role of the web in facilitating and deflecting political participation. The role of the Internet and digital technologies was a theme that was reflected in the research of many papers presented over the course of the conference and the presentation thus set the tone for the next two days of learning and sharing.

The presentation panels were well organised and covered a broad range of themes from ‘Culture and Memory’ to ‘Digital Politics’ and ‘Managing Creativity.’ I was particularly impressed with the selection of speakers for each panel and the interesting discussion stimulated by the apparently very different presentations that ended up having fascinating points of commonality.

The audience, which was primarily fellow presenters and composed of mostly PhD candidates and lecturers from both across the UK and around the world, was very supportive and created an environment which fostered good discussion and idea-sharing. Feedback was given constructively and many commented that the conference had stimulated ideas about how they might better approach their research. I was very thankful to have such a supportive audience for my first formal conference paper presentation. I was quite intimidated when I first read over the programme of paper abstracts, but after the first day of the conference I had a surge in confidence and very much enjoyed my fifteen minutes of presentation about creative city policies and urban regeneration in Berlin.

The conference was an overwhelmingly positive experience and an enlightening look into the world of postgraduate doctoral research in the field of the creative industries. I was proud to represent ICCE and Goldsmiths at this conference and I certainly would recommend this experience to any future ICCE-icles who are interested in digging deeper in the academic world and practicing their presentation skills. Thank you to CMCI for a great two days!

 

– Courtney McLaughlin

ROUTLEDGE COMPANION TO GLOBAL CULTURAL POLICY CALL FOR CHAPTER PROPOSALS

This book seeks to offer a new, global perspective on cultural policy. In recent years, the study of Cultural Policy has firmly established itself as a field that cuts across a range of academic disciplines, including Sociology, Cultural Studies, Economics, Anthropology, Area Studies, Languages, Geography, and Law. We hope this volume will be a definitive collection of work that sets out the contours of the field, drawing on up-to-date scholarship and research.

To date, cultural policy has been marked by specific approaches associated with national or regional traditions, such as those of the UK, the Nordic nations, or Latin America. This text will be self-consciously international, both in terms of contents and contributors, in an effort to recast the study of cultural policy as a global enterprise.

The editorial team is interested in receiving contributions of 5,000 – 10,000 words. While we have a particular interest in receiving contributions in the areas of political science and economics, we are keen to hear from researchers working in a variety of disciplines.

Submission Process:

Please submit abstracts of 250 words. Please include a brief biography for each author as well as corresponding contact details. Please submit abstracts to Victoria Durrer at v.durrer@qub.ac.uk by April 30th.

IMPORTANT DEADLINES AND DATES

Submission of abstract                                   30 April 2015

Notification of peer-review decisions             ongoing

Deadline for chapters                                     November 2015

Editing                                                              December 2015-February 2016

Deadline for receipt of revised chapters        March 2016

Anticipated publication                                    June 2016

Editorial Team:
Dave O’Brien (Goldsmiths College, University of London)

Toby Miller (Murdoch/UCR)

Victoria Durrer (QUB)

Cultural Policy workshop at Warwick University

Cultural Policy Workshop at Warwick University / Noa Katz
On 9 July, 2014, a workshop on cultural value took place at The University of Warwick, titled: “‘Cultural Value’ and the Economic and Social Impact of the Arts”.
A day long, the workshop hosted three presentations and one panel session. Attendees were mainly MA and PhD researchers from various universities across the UK including: The University of Leeds, Goldsmiths, University of London, University of Warwick, University of Leicester, and more.
First, a short presentation was given by Susan Jones, Director of a-n The Artists Information Company, on the topic of “The value of the artists”. The presentation revolved mainly around the question of the value of artists to society and the question of public funding for visual arts. Ms. Jones shared some interesting statistics; for instance, she revealed that 72% of artists in the UK earn up to £10,000/year from art practice and that what is found to generally be most important to them is their connection with the public and creating for it. In addition, there are many barriers to exhibiting in the Visual Arts: 63% of the artists turn down offers to exhibit due to financial costs and lack of financial support. Thus, only a few artists are able to exhibit every year in public galleries.
Ms. Jones claimed that it is crucial to develop a better public funding for visual arts in order to keep the diversity in contemporary visual art exhibitions. As to that, she also emphasised that it is necessary for artists to be able to clearly articulate their value and contribution. These issues are addressed by Jones in her work for ‘a-n The Artists Information Company’. The company’s mission is to stimulate and support contemporary visual art and affirm the values of artists to society. It has launched several campaigns over the years such as: “Paying Artists” that features case-studies, a campaign for Growth of Lottery Funding for Visual Arts, various researches, and so on.
Second, a fascinating lecture was given by Dr. David Fleming, OBE, Director of National Museums Liverpool. Dr. Fleming talked about the educational role of museums and their importance in ability to impact social causes, the public, and social inclusion. By ‘social inclusion’ Dr. Fleming means: “accessibility to all, and fighting illnesses in society”. He claimed that museums are full with messages and thus could never, or have never served as neutral spaces. He stated: “museums for me only work if they’re emotional and people respond to them.”.
Therefore, he described the role of the National Museum in Liverpool as “getting generations to talk to each other” and striving for “social justice”. Through actively engaging exhibitions for the public that deal with racism, hostility, and social inequality, the museum aims to represent the fabric of life in Liverpool, promote social inclusion and fight corruption. This, while being diverse and emotionally receptive. Moreover, Dr. Fleming stressed the need for cultural policy to further support such efforts, rather than investing in museums that approach “tourists and students” (big museums in London, Paris, Berlin etc.).
Dr. Fleming’s lecture was followed by a panel discussion and Q&A session. Participating was: Dr. Eleonora Belfiore, Associate Professor of Cultural Policy at University of Warwick and Director of Studies Warwick Commission for the Cultural Value; Dr. Chris Bilton, Director of the Centre for Cultural Policy Studies, University of Warwick; Andrew Mowlah, Senior Manager of Policy & Research at Arts Council England; and Dr. Fleming himself.
Panel participants have commented on Dr. Fleming’s words, and a discussion about the value of culture has developed, focusing on the subject of evidence-bringing. Andrew Mowlah from the Arts Council of England mentioned the assistance the council seeks in providing proof; he explained that in order to support the arts and promote greater funding to them, the council needs to establish a better collaboration with artists as it cannot avoid the process of providing proof. Responding to this, Dr. Fleming stated that as a society, we are “obsessed” with numbers and measuring, and that we do not really need those to know that the value of the arts exists: “there is more to arts and culture; there is passion, there is a debate, there is curiosity, and emotions.” Finally, in response, Mr. Mowlah declared: “With all due respect to passion and instinct, the people who pay for these things are interested in evidence.”
Other claims arising were about the too-long focus of the arts sector in “making a case” for the government instead of focusing on the audiences. Dr. Belfiore said that the question of value should focus on how people in particular and specific places and situations react to the arts.
Last, an interactive afternoon session was given on Research in the Humanities: Value and Impact. It was directed by Dr. Charlotte Mathieson (Research Fellow, IAS University of Warwick) and Dr. Eeleonora Belfiore. The session involved a presentation by Dr. Belfiore who briefly discussed the crisis of the Arts & Humanities in higher education; she mentioned the issue of “reputation” and more importantly, self-perception and self-positioning of artists, that is far more inferior to that of mathematicians, for example. In that context, she emphasised the significance of Social Media in enabling audiences to find artists, come across their work, and generally make artists more visible.
Following that, an interactive workshop was conducted by Dr. Mathieson on how to take one’s research and leverage it outside of the academia. She offered to workshop’s participants different key-points and exercises in promoting one’s agenda outside of formal higher-education systems. Among those: “the Radio Pitch”, “Online Writing”, and more.

Critical Spaces Consultancy Workshop

Critical Spaces Consultancy Workshop

On 23 May 2014, ICCE hosted the London Consultancy Workshop for Critical Spaces.

Critical Spaces is a critical catalyst for socially-engaged artists. This includes all artists working in social contexts, including site-specific, situationist, public, community and outreach artists. We are currently developing a free online platform which will support these artists by:

  • Helping them to find other socially-engaged artists for critical conversations and collaboration – locally or anywhere in the UK, and using specialist terminology.

  • Sending ‘Critical Tasks’ directly to their inbox. These are short exercises created by other artists to stimulate critical thinking.

  • Creating a map of socially-engaged artists across the UK, to increase the visibility of artists working in this way.

It will also help curators and commissioners to search for artists to work with more easily.

So far, 281 artists have registered their interest in this initiative. As a result, 17 workshops have been held across England to support critical thinking, local networks and peer support… And, to figure out how this type of activity can be stimulated on a national scale.

ICCE hosted the last of these workshops, where the final model for an online platform was presented to and tested by a curated group of 17 people. These were predominantly socially-engaged artists, but also included a mixture of consultants, commissioners and curators working in this field.

To compliment these workshops, we will shortly be launching an online survey for those who were not able to attend any of the R&D events.

 

The need

Critical dialogue and reflection is essential for improving art practice. The use of art to deliver social policy has both brought new possibilities for artists and led to a decrease in criticality and critical language.

Where studio and gallery-based artists are dealing exclusively in art language, social art practitioners are immersed in the language of the Third Sector. They are undertaking professional development training to learn about public licensing, charity status, viral marketing, policy changes and bid writing. Studios become offices, and the curators are charities and governmental bodies. None of these spaces are asking artists to develop and define the value of artistic practice on their own terms.

On top of this, a new breed of student is demanding that their £27k art school degree leaves them industry-ready. These previously experimental spaces – where young artists would generate new terms, processes and concepts for seeing – are fast becoming business schools.

For artists working in the social realm, the designated space for reflection is often the evaluation report. Rather than critical contemplation, evaluation is in fact advocacy. In addition, the looming threat of the quantitative measurement of well-being and payment-by-results means that social value – and by extension social art practice – is increasingly articulated in economic terms. This brings art practice much closer to an economic debate than it is used to.

Within an increasingly pressurised situation – where the artists’ livelihood and an externally-defined value system become intractably intertwined – the critical justification of this work easily becomes a secondary concern. The space for artist-led, autonomous, critical discourse – essential for developing sophisticated practice – is in short supply.

“There is a power struggle that is starting to happen between artists trying to access resources and money. I think there is room for us to come together in some way, when the economic situation outside is splitting us apart and preventing us from serving the people we are trying to reach through art.”

– Myles Stewart, Artist and Art Therapist

“We are so used to scrabbling for funding, keeping ourselves afloat and justifying what we do, that we don’t actually look creatively at the very terms in which we think and act. The spaces where artists used to come together to think differently are diminishing.”

– Matthew Taylor, Artist and Researcher

“We need to create some kind of support network where we can develop alternative instructions and forms and processes [for demonstrating artistic value] than those being directed by policy – and we need to do that collectively.”

– Sophie Hope, Artist and Researcher

Further information

Critical Spaces is an initiative by Hannah Hull in partnership with ixia public art think tank.

www.criticalspaces.co.uk

Hannah Hull a situation-specific artist, creating social sculpture and political interventions.  As part of her practice, she delivers and consults on creative practice for social change.

www.hannahhull.co.uk

ixia is a public art think tank. It promotes and influences the development and implementation of public art policies, strategies and projects by creating and distributing knowledge to arts and non-arts policy makers and delivery organisations within the public and private sectors, curators, artists and the public. ixia is a charity and is funded by Arts Council England as a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO). ixia also teach on the MA Arts Administration and Cultural Policy in ICCE.

www.ixia-info.com

Engaging the World: EU maps out Culture in External Relations

Engaging the World: EU maps out Culture in External Relations

 

Researchers from the Institute of Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths, Rod Fisher and Dr Carla Figueira, are part of a group of independent experts and cultural organisations helping the EU develop a strategic approach to the use of culture in external relations.

The Preparatory Action ‘Culture in EU External Relations’ launched this week its final report ‘Engaging the World: Towards Global Cultural Citizenship’. This report is the outcome of a sixteen-month inquiry led by the Goethe Institut, Brussels, covering 54 countries – the 28 EU Member States, 16 countries included under the European Neighbourhood Policy and 10 Strategic Partnership countries (including the USA, China, Brazil, South Africa, Russia). It has uncovered a very considerable potential for culture in the EU’s international relations and has also explored the ways in which culture and cultural expression have been deployed already by European actors in multiple relationships with their counterparts elsewhere.At the same time, the inquiry has analysed how stakeholders from countries outside of the EU have partnered with European cultural actors and how they view their relationships with Europe.

The report validates the need for the deployment of soft power by the European Union through enhancing the role of culture in its the external relations and those of its Member States and the process set in motion by the European Commission’s 2007 ‘Communication on a European agenda for culture in a globalizing world’, which was endorsed by the Parliament and the Council in 2008.

The country reports examine the cultural situation, potentials and challenges in the respective countries, focusing on strengthened cultural relations between the EU and the country in question. Reports are available online for: Algeria, Armenia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, Georgia, India, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Moldova, Palestine, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Tunisia, Ukraine and USA. Reports will also become available for Libya, Syria Belarus, Jordan and Azerbaijan.

More detailed information on the outcomes of the Preparatory Action here.

Daniel Merrill – Intercultural Co-production and the Cultural Entrepreneur

 

 

 

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This article uses the vehicle of an international arts project to explore some considerations of the idea of cultural entrepreneurship. As such it will not focus on the practicalities of undertaking the project, or indeed many of the specific activities that happened as a part of it, instead exploring how considerations of the cultural entrepreneur come through in such activities.

 

1. The Projects Origins

In 2014 I successfully applied for the Artists International Development Fund, which is made available by Arts Council England and The British Council. The aim was to undertake musical research through active collaboration with artists in three countries – Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. The fund “offers early stage development opportunities for […] artists based in England to spend time building links with artists, organisations and/or creative producers in another country”. The project was to involve six weeks traveling between the three countries creating rapid collaborations with musicians in each country, exploring the potentials of combining my own music with contemporary arab music. This project arose in the form of a collaboration with Amina Abodoma, an entrepreneur based in Alexandria, Egypt who I had met whilst undertaking a Masters at Goldsmith’s Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship, her work with I-Act and as Manager of Teatro Eskendria has seen her playing an important role in the cultural sector within the country.

Having helped to co-produce an event for Egyptian band Masar Egbari at London’s Cafe Oto, a concert that proved interesting in its inter-cultural reach, Amina and I started to explore ideas about how to further develop concerts projects that would bridge between the Middle East and the UK. Throughout her time in the UK Amina had gained insight into the working of the cultural sector in the UK, and a project to develop reciprocal knowledge was conceived.

The project itself fits into both of the primary forms of international co-production as outlined by Staines, Travers and Chung being both a co-financing and an artistic collaboration. Previous experience has demonstrated that the importance of funders is often misunderstood by artists in developing projects. When seeking funding it is not simply about raising the money to do what you wish to do, but engaging potential funders in what it is that you are doing; starting a discussion. Funders often have much more to offer than simply the money, and a fruitful discussion will help move a project on tremendously. Co-funding not only makes this a multi-linear conversation, but helps to add assurance to further potential funders that your project has an established network that will   allow it to develop. This was therefore essential in this project, which received support in the UK from Arts Council England and The British Council, but by Goldsmiths University, Norwich Arts Centre and Colchester Arts Centre, and Teatro Eskendria and I-Act in Egypt. These organisations provided either financial support or income in kind to the project, but most importantly they assisted in shaping the artistic outcomes, as well as understanding the logistical considerations. The artistic collaborations were facilitated initially through Amina, whose previous work has assisted her in developing a regional network of creatives, venues and organisations. She facilitated contact with two of the most important contacts in the artistic development of the project, Tareq Al Nasser (composer and performer – Jordan) and Ayman Asfour (violinist and musical curator/educator – Egypt), whilst the network of people encountered through studying at Goldsmiths led to the development of contacts with Jackson Allers (DJ, producer and writer) and Jihad Sammat (founder of Radio Beirut) in Lebanon. These names would provide insight both into the music itself and the contemporary music scene and industry in the region.

2. The Thinking

Trends in international co-production are predicated on a number of factors (availability of transportation and communications, heightened institutional awareness of roles in global society), and provide many benefits for the various parties involved (artists, presenters and cultural institutions and audiences).  Various authors have dealt with how the cosmopolitan blending of cultures is an essential element in what has been termed the “creative economy”. Whilst courses such as the MA in Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship that bring together a multi-national cohort can be perceived to fit into the landscape of the creative city envisaged by thinkers such as Richard Florida, or the roaming boarder-less creative class described by Nordstrum and Riderstralle, and the considerations of intellectual property developed through such endeavors is seen as central to the growth of the creative economy by government advisors such as Howkins the critical framework that underpins the course encourages students to consider the very nature of what cultural entrepreneurship is, and how it fits into political and ideological frameworks. Critiques of the culture industry presented by the likes of Adorno and built upon by the likes of Lash, McRobbie and Standing form an essential counterweight, and deeply enrich our understanding of the discourse we are entering. This is not simply about arts enterprise/business, it is about exploring the ideas that underpin this.

A more recent perspective to present itself is not simply the cultural entrepreneur as a hybrid between an artist and a business person, rather the cultural entrepreneur as a person whose work explores culture and cultural formations, presenting challenges and questions. A cultural entrepreneur is related to but is not the same as social entrepreneur. Both explore culture but in different ways. Social entrepreneurs develop businesses to address particular sets of issues, the point being that their enterprise makes profits from providing a social good, and that these profits are reinvested into the enterprise, or the communities they serve. In addressing these issues cultural attitudes and actions will need to change

The  idea of the cultural entrepreneur as presented by Martin and Witter starts elsewhere:

Social entrepreneurs solve problems by disrupting existing systems…. Cultural entrepreneurs, on the other hand, solve problems by disrupting belief systems[.]

Their work explores aspects of culture, which may then raise social considerations, with their economic and political ramifications (from which Social Enterprises may arise). Effectively the Cultural Entrepreneurs activity is in stirring up questions on which social movements or social enterprise might form.

The project would take place over a limited time period of six weeks, creating a natural limit to physical output. As such – though there are direct outcomes that would arise from a project, those which are quantifiable, allowing space for the project to develop considering things on a more conceptual and experiential level is equally, if not more important. It is from these psycho-geographic explorations that the seeds for future work would develop.

3. The outcomes

The project within itself had clearly defined outcomes. This is a further aspect that many artists find hard to bring into focus but is essential. Whilst making anticipated outcomes too specific can become a hindrance to the creative process, making them too vague makes a project open to criticism, making the project equally unmanageable. Funders from both private and public sector organisations are increasingly looking at the intended measurement and evaluation framework for projects, and this is reflected in the application processes and eventual project evaluation. Used effectively, the application process in itself can help you refine what your objectives are, and help to express more clearly what it is that you are actually applying (including understanding how it does and does not meet the potential funders, partners and audiences interests).

Having completed this initial research expedition, the next stage is how to further the relationships established through this. In a world of limited public funding, and between two considerably different formations of the music industry, exploring ways for collaboration that are viable (financially and personally) in the short medium and long term present presents a number of challenges and opportunities. The independent music scene in the Middle East has seemingly developed in the absence of major label influence, with these labels working more in regards to feeding the export market known as “world music”. Though the lack of interest from record labels perceived by artists within the region is a difficulty, and a culture of free downloading of music, it has created an appreciation and engagement with live music and a strong sense of entrepreneurship within the cultural sector. As the music industry in Europe continues to be more and more challenging, with majors and mid level labels alike struggling to maintain investment in artists and releases, there is a great deal for us to learn from this approach. Further opportunities to explore this might suggest potential models or collaborations in terms of industry practice that would be beneficial in both locations.

One of the outcomes in this project was hard to anticipate, and happened in advance of any of the travel that actually occurred. True to the afore mentioned definition of the Cultural Entrepreneur, the simple act of planning this activity became revealing of cultural norms which lead to a considerable questioning. The cultural norms presented were embodied in two words that I would encounter with almost every person with whom I would speak about t the project; “take care”. Having been performing, touring and collaborating with musicians across Europe and North America for over a decade, I am used to undertaking projects that probably to most people seem somewhat harebrained, or at least amusing. However, at no point have I have ever met such earnest requests as “take care”. These two words though said from a place of genuine good intent, when combined with multiple requests for information regarding my whereabouts, contact details, daily check ins etc… and the fact that these words have rarely been uttered in relation to European or North American projects, mask a cultural persepective I had not expected to encounter; the perception of the Middle East as a place of continuous danger.

It would be incorrect to try and present the Middle East as being a region without troubles. Indeed the legacy and living experience of these troubles were abundantly clear. The facades of Beirut’s crumbling buildings and infrastructure, both beautiful and poignant in a city where each district encounters daily power outages, were one vestige of this, and within a few nights I found myself conducting an interviewing a Humanitarian Munitions Disposal Expert, who could chart the history of the country in terms of the land mines and cluster bombs disposed of on a daily basis. In Alexandria, protests and riots are a daily occurrence and multitudes of unregulated (and largely illegal) housing developments are erupting all over the city taking advantage of the political vacuum, and talk of the revolution is still strong, if somewhat jaded. But the point is that for those wishing to travel to or work places listed in UK Foreign Offices orange zones, one of the first hurdles to overcome is convincing others that the events presented in the media do not translate directly to personal risks. For artists or entrepreneurs working on a smaller, or individual collaborative level (as opposed corporate levels), both in the UK and in the region, such perspectives can be paralysing.

 

Such observations about risks in travelling to Middle Eastern countries are passed off in ordinary discussion by a form of concern, but in fact mask an unthinking acceptance of media portrayals of exceptional events without consideration of the mundanity that forms the day to day. Here we brought to R.D. Laing’s considerations of how we use our relationship with others as means to defining our own being:

…Every relationship implies definition of self by other and other by self and that if the self does not receive confirmation by its contacts with the other, or if the attributions that the other ascribe to it are contradictory, its position becomes untenable and may break down.

In the phrase “take care” there is an implication of threat or danger, in this context a perspective that the nature of the countries to be visited (and the people that inhabit them) are  fundamentally less safe than than the country or society in which the statements are made. The statement is made with an assumption that the sayer (other) and the receiver (self) both working under the same perspective, be this a delusion (total self deception), illusion (partial self deception) or collusion (where two or more people participate in self deception).

A collusion is “clinched when self finds in other that other who will ‘confirm’ self in the false self that self is trying to make real… each [finding] an other to endorse his own false notion of himself and to give this appearance of reality”. Through this project the importance of international co-produced projects of this nature, and of the role of the cultural entrepreneur becomes strikingly apparent: to challenge such collusionary norms.

Supporting Creative Business: Cultural Enterprise Office and its clients

Siân Prime Director of the  MA Cultural & Creative Entrepreneurship in ICCE was invited to be respondent and contribute to a seminar held at the University of Glasgow on 3rd March 2014,that was part of the research project “Supporting Creative Business: Cultural Enterprise Office and its clients”. The AHRC funded project investigates how the Cultural Enterprise Office operates as a business support agency for creative sector micro-businesses in Scotland. Led by PI Philip Schlesinger and Co-I Melanie Selfe, it seeks to develop in-depth academic understanding of the workings of public support, provide research-based analysis to assist Cultural Enterprise Office, and analyse what lessons for public support in the cultural field can be drawn from the experience of the service and its clients. By mobilizing and analysing the implicit, embedded knowledge of those providing and receiving support, it aims to revalue organizational experience: transforming fragmented anecdotes into structured evidence, identifying models of best practice in cultural sector support and developing new methods and models for the effective evaluation and evidencing of cultural support initiatives.
Through the detailed case study of Cultural Enterprise Office, the investigation will address the following issues:
  • How does a cultural support agency understand its role and evolve its agenda within the wider policy and economic landscape?
  • How do particular practices, schemes and interventions enable the organisation to achieve its objectives, and to what extent do these activities meet the needs of clients and transform their perceptions and business practices?
  • What are the particular challenges of developing entrepreneurial skills and establishing micro-businesses within different parts of the creative sector? 
  • What can academic research bring to an understanding of agency-client knowledge exchange and how can future knowledge exchange be best facilitated?
  • What key lessons can be drawn from the experience of the service and its clients in relation to the challenges involved in framing and executing policies for support of cultural enterprise in the 21st century?
Whilst clearly situated in the Scottish context, the study addresses pressing issues relevant to a number of wider policy and creative economy debates. Findings are expected to contribute substantially to the understanding of the specific support needs of micro-businesses; the fit between entrepreneurial policy rhetoric and the career aspirations, professional identities and intellectual frameworks of creative workers; the relevance of concepts such as IP for small scale creative enterprise; and the way geographic clustering/dispersal affects the effective delivery of support. Current policy continues to position creativity as the engine of enterprise and economic regeneration. This study will use empirical research to identify the challenges of developing creative reputations and successful business profiles within a notoriously ‘precarious’ sector, and will inform the provision of effective creative sector support.
Siân was invited to participate as she was the founder-Director of the Cultural Enterprise Office, and developed the methodology that is used to support the cultural entrepreneurs. That methodology is still used by the Cultural Enterprise Office. The project has revealed the relevance of that methodology, and recognises the impact that it has on the cultural economy. She spoke about identity, sustainability and biodiversity in the sector,  the need for Universities to develop what Sennett calls and “Architecture of Cooperation” to support knowledge exchange between creative and cultural enterprises and the research and teaching communities to develop craftsmanship. The need to develop  emotional intelligence (all of us in our community of learning)  together with the craft, discipline and practice and abilities to think critically and creatively. She further spoke about Intellectual Property frameworks as much as the business models in the Creative Economy needing transformation