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.