MyCreativity: Made in Europe Part I: Dispatches from the City

On: November 20, 2006
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About Pepijn Uitterhoeve
I'm Pepijn, a veteran Utopia player (and gamer in general). I intend to write my master thesis on Utopia, and focus mainly on the cooperative aspects. Some more stuff about me may be found here: http://peppie.wordpress.com/about/

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This two-hour lecture covered the cities of Vienna, Dublin, Barcelona and Basel (Switzerland).

MyCreativity

Monika Mokre and Elisabeth Mayerhofer covered Vienna, Aphra Kerr covered Dublin, Barbara Strebel covered Basel, and Matteo Pasquinelli covered Barcelona.

The lecture started with Vienna, which was delivered at lightning speed. I didn’t know Austrians could speak English that fast. This made it hard for me to keep up since I’m not good at multi-tasking (and taking notes + listening attentively = multitasking). But I think I got the gist of it:

The speakers talked about the general purpose and usage of art (in Vienna). Apparently some people thought the notion of ‘applied art‘ is a rather new thing, but it was pointed out to us that applied art was already happening in the early 20th century. Regrettably all efforts to promote the practice were ceased when World War II came about, and afterwards these applied arts were ignored. Post-war cultural policy was a conservative one, solely concerned with rebuilding and restoration. The 60s and 70s saw a revival of a “culture for everyone!”-kind of attitude – but in the 80s culture and art suffered due to the need of art to be economically viable. In the 90s the focus of art was on the social and the welfare state, and open to everyone (not just high art for the elite).

At this point the story gets more in depth. We get an overview of the status of the Creative Industries in Vienna along with its problems. Creative Industries are supported by the state because they can bring economic success, help to brand Austrian cities and develop its culture. Art subsidies are granted by the government; unfortunately due to bureaucracy these subsidies are largely unattainable; the system is too rigid and complex, and requires artists to clearly define the goals of their art endeavour. As such there have been very few economic successes.

Artists also do not define themselves as working in the “Creative Industries”. You could say this isn’t even an imagined community as its members don’t identify with each other. They’re often self-employed, but aren’t real economical entrepreneurs. Clearly, the subsidy system and the producers of culture aren’t quite aligned.

The presentation ends with a conclusion offering solutions for this current cultural crisis in Vienna:

* Kill the hype surrounding Creative Industries
* Make peace with the fact that there won’t be a return to a strong welfare state
* Provide artists with a basic income
* Reform the Intellectual Property System
* Creative Industries should be self-critical and its members should form organizations

—-

Next stop: Dublin. Aphra Kerr begins with assessing that Irish cultural policies are sort of stuck in and torn between the US and Europe (from Boston to Berlin). The most well known Irish cultural export is RiverDance, which itself has changed a traditional art form into a modern commodity. She points out how the Irish government has trouble defining cultural categories; for instance digital content industries are sort of lumped together within Trade and Commerce.
Like Vienna, this is a story of failure; Dublin’s cultural quarter, Temple Bar, has little actual cultural merit; it is swamped with restaurants and such, and most artists and cultural production companies have moved out of Dublin, or indeed out of Ireland. Most of the digital media companies are geared towards television and film, and the only worthy effort of creating an avenue for digital research, art and such has failed – the Digital Hub, supposedly a Digital Content Flagship Project, it lacks the funding it was supposed to get from other Irish industries.

There may however be a worthwhile venue in the Irish market; the game development industries. Instead of focusing on publishing or creating games however, Kerr argues that developing “Middle Ware“, namely software that helps designers develop computer games,
would be a proper direction to take. The game development website she is involved with helps people in this sector to make connections with academics, publishers, other designers and so on – sort of a networking site, where people get to know each other.

—-

Pasquinelli tells us about Barcelona and the Social Industries (rather than Creative Industries).

I actually have two pages of notes on this bit but the blogpost is already getting lengthy and I’m getting tired of typing this stuff out. Pasquinelli basically states that culture, social movements and politics are intertwined in Barcelona, and that getting involved in city planning and real estate are the only moneymaking ventures for artists.
—-

The last presentation was the most vague one, and it didn’t help that I had to leave five minutes before it ended. I caught that the speaker, Strebel, was originally from Basel (despite her American accent) which is a museum-heavy town. She laments however how the Swiss mainly focus on Zurich in terms of cultural policies. She notes that Sir Thomas More had some connection to Basel, or that at least the original book regarding Utopia is accessible in this town. She also noted that there was a money museum in the town. And that she spoke four different languages.
To me, this lecture was rather confusing as a whole, though possibly because it was taken out of context. (this was the only MyCreativity session I had been able to attend)

If anyone can clarify or add things, feel free to comment below or even edit my post.

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