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“Culture 2022: what should we expect?” Dr Martin Smith, ICCE

An ICCE/Goldsmiths colloquy, supported by the Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) and the Creative Industries Federation (CIF), June 9th 2021, with Prof. Pierluigi Sacco, Prof. Geoff Crossick and Dame Vikki Heywood

This two-hour online event, chaired by Caroline Norbury, CEO of the UK’s Creative Industries Federation and founding CEO of Creative England, was designed to promote discussion of the future of culture and the wider creative sector in a post-pandemic world. It comprised three opening statements from senior commentators – two academics and one practitioner – followed by a wide-ranging exchange between the presenters and members of an online audience of more than 100 attendees. The purpose of this blog is to provide a written summary of the three opening contributions. A link to a full recording of the event is provided at the end of this distillation.

Prof. Pierluigi Sacco, professor of cultural economics at Milan’s IULM University and Director of the OECD’s Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities in Venice, opened by observing that we still have a very poor understanding of the role that culture plays for human beings, suggesting that the most concrete way to address the question of the future of culture and creative production is to highlight the potential of “a different way of looking at the work of culture in a post pandemic society and also possibly in the post pandemic economy”.

Prof. Sacco bemoaned the fact that culture, notwithstanding its very long history, is still widely viewed as an elite activity related to leisure rather than a question of fundamental human needs, arguing by reference to epigenetics and neuroscience that herein lies most of the problem. It is essential to understand certain key issues of social cognition, he argued, including the capacity to understand how other people think and react, and their intentions and beliefs in certain situations. As illustrations of a broader understanding of cultural meaning he gave the examples of fiction, which he suggested “in one sense provides us with a laboratory to experiment with human feelings and expectations”, and music, which during lockdown had played a key role in regulating emotions and moods.

Prof. Sacco referred to longitudinal studies showing that a lifetime’s systematic cultural participation yielded an expectation of some two and half years of extra life, suggesting that this is really to do with our capacity to cope with the facts of human existence, facts “that cannot be substituted by other factors or other resources”. “So culture is literally making us live longer”, he suggested.  Why then, he asked, is there still a widespread conviction that culture is peripheral to the real issues of human need?

There are signs of positive change, he reflected, in part related to the experience of the pandemic. There was an increasing awareness of the particular capacity of culture to connect in unexpected and unexplored ways to basic human abilities and survival issues. However, these issues had not yet been properly framed within a cultural context. Nonetheless we can now begin to think in a different way of culture as a resource to tackle major societal challenges.  We now have a clearer understanding of what active cultural participation in the creation of meaning signifies, how this relates to a sense of self-worth and what it has to do with addressing the wider challenges of society.

Prof. Sacco gave several examples of the relevance of this human-centred approach to the development of public policy. One was the migration crisis.  Here he noted that there are many types of cultural experience that can create bridges “from the point of view of empathisation and the dismantling of barriers – those cognitive and emotional barriers that render cultural otherness threatening to us”.  He cited other examples relating to the climate crisis, social inequality and ageing, deducing that the challenge for the future is to imagine a policy agenda for culture and creative production related explicitly to social impact. “I am not saying by this that we should disregard the economic impact of culture, but I am saying that by focusing exclusively on the economic impact dimension we are missing one basic part (of the problem)”.

The two dimensions of social and economic impact were in any event inter-connected, he argued. On the politics of ageing, for example, a culturally driven programme of active ageing could be immensely impactful from an economic standpoint, not because it would generate revenues but because it would help mitigate the enormous financial cost of social neglect and absence of change. “We need a new logic to intervene” Prof. Sacco argued, “and this new logic really has to do with how culture affects our own dispositions, attitudes and behaviours.”

Prof. Sacco concluded that this was “an incredibly exciting new field”. “The really interesting and intriguing thing is that having a social impact is not just a necessity to be sustainable financially but is becoming an aesthetic necessity, a poetic necessity.” The next objective therefore is “to break new ground rather than aspire simply to bounce back (after the pandemic) to the old familiar ground”.

Prof. Geoff Crossick, formerly chief executive of the Arts & Humanities Research Board and Warden of Goldsmiths, and now Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at the School of Advanced Study in the University of London, began his remarks by saying that he wanted to make two introductory observations about ‘Culture 2022’ from his vantage point as a historian. The first was that in the past, people had always thought during major crises that the world would never be the same again.  In fact, he suggested, this is very rarely the case. “The changes that stick are usually accelerations of trends that were visible long before the crisis.” In this context that meant talking about culture in relation to digital engagement, inequalities of access and the ‘precarity’ of practitioners, amongst other issues.

Secondly, referencing John Graunt’s pioneering mid-seventeenth century work on mortality records, Prof. Crossick said that pandemics are only over “when the deaths due to it are something society has decided that it can accept”.  Epidemics “do not end neatly. There is not a moment when one can announce that the pandemic is over.” This meant that it was premature to talk about ‘Culture 2022’. He therefore proposed to look beyond 2022 to the longer term implications for culture and cultural practice in three areas: the digital experience and cultural consumption; cultural production, freelancers and the innovation system; and thinking about cultural value in the broadest sense.

On the digital experience, Prof. Crossick warned against adopting too simplistic a narrative of the ‘shift to digital’ by neglecting the fact that so much culture was experienced at home before Covid.  As far as the specific issue of digital engagement was concerned, he noted that if the increase (in engagement) is with those already engaged rather than with new audiences, something less is happening than we had expected.  UK Audience Agency Cultural Participation Monitor evidence suggested there had been little change in the percentage of people engaging digitally compared with the period before the pandemic. What had changed is that those who had engaged before were now doing so more. Similarly, on the subject of co-production – making music, film, animation, games and other digital content with others online, a distinguishing mark of a trend that Prof. Sacco had characterised in recent years as ‘Culture 3.0’ – it did not seem that the number of people doing this had increased during the pandemic.  “The overall picture for the UK isn’t one of a major shift with respect to digital engagement, which is not what we are telling ourselves”, Prof. Crossick observed.

Turning to his second point, Prof. Crossick said that the place of freelancers in the cultural innovation system is a fundamental long term issue, whilst noting that there was a need to distinguish between the self-employed who produce and sell for the market, craft makers, visual artists and others, and freelancers who habitually work on projects on a contract by contract basis. He observed that freelancers in the project model play a particularly important role because they enable businesses and cultural organisations to shift risk and costs off their own hands between projects. This is what lay behind freelancer ‘precarity’ in the wider creative sector.

Noting that it was the younger, newer entrants into the cultural labour market who appeared to have been hardest hit by the pandemic, Prof. Crossick suggested that we are losing a pipeline of talent. “I want to highlight that particular dimension of the crisis for freelancers”, he added, “and it may become a crisis for creativity and innovation in the creative and culture sectors”, characterised as they are by a “complex ecology with project based production systems, outsourcing, collaborative networks (and) portfolio working…” The dislocation of the freelancer economy was therefore “a real threat not just to freelancers but for the success of the creative and cultural industries”.

Prof. Crossick’s third point linked back both to Prof. Sacco’s opening remarks on being ambitious and with it to the wider dimensions of value highlighted in his project report on cultural value for the AHRC (Crossick and Kaszynska), published in 2016.  He lamented that so many of these broader cultural agendas, for example on regeneration, ‘place-making’ and community, and on health and well-being, had been seriously disrupted by the pandemic. “The danger”, he said, “is that the cultural sector responds by focusing (too) narrowly, not least in order make a case to funders and governments… We must be more, not less ambitious, as we emerge from the pandemic. Discussion and strategies for culture must emphasise its social and community potential in a way that I think we are losing…”  We should focus more, he continued, “not on big cultural institutions and urban regeneration, because the business model behind that, requiring tourism and visitor footfall, might be broken for a long time.” Instead, the focus should be on “the contribution of arts assets of all kinds in improving life in poorer communities, which can be considerable, as we’ve seen from local initiatives during the pandemic and has been evidenced by research in the US.”

Prof. Crossick concluded that the big danger was that from early in the pandemic the cultural sector had focused on digital experiences and online substitution, proclaiming that this activity at home shows why arts and culture matter and proclaiming its positive impacts on health and wellbeing. This narrative was already visible before the pandemic – making the health and wellbeing of individuals the key benefit rather than the wider social benefits that have been disrupted over the last year or so. “My worry is that we will carry on talking like that in 2022 and 2023 and beyond. As (the pandemic) slowly lifts, we must enlarge our vision and see the value of culture in a much broader perspective, including one that builds on the communal and civic solidarities that we have all experienced over the last year”.

Dame Vikki Heywood is one of the most widely experienced cultural practitioners in the UK having led both the Royal Court Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. She previously chaired the Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value, the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) and the 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions. She now chairs the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and Festival UK 2022 as well as being a board member of the National Theatre.

Vikki began her remarks with a reflection on the importance of deep memory and shared experience.You know we love to go into dark spaces, or we did before the pandemic, and all sit together and have a collective experience, one that lasts a long time so we all feel like we have been through something. This makes us feel better.” It is about a sense “that we were there….that this place is ours. That it was special. That this is something that we have done together, and this is the something that unites us very powerfully…” This possibility disappeared overnight when the pandemic hit.  Its absence has caused us to think more deeply about what is really important and what we have been missing.

One side effect of this loss of connection had been that “suddenly the gap between the professional and the amateur disappeared overnight”: it now seemed irrelevant and unimportant. This in turn had fostered a moment in which a more democratic approach to creative production was in the air, harking back to the work of the Warwick Commission (2015), which had talked in terms of an ‘eco-system’ and reflected a conviction that everything creators do is part of an interdependent wider world.

Vikki continued by stating that in a more democratic world, cultural producers “must engage their audiences in the creation not just the observation of the work they were doing”, noting that this was, amongst other examples, the entire principle behind the creation of the National Theatre of Wales. She highlighted the success of “We’re here because we are here”, a UK-wide piece of public theatre involving 28 theatre companies, commissioned from Jeremy Deller as part of the 14-18 NOW programme of public art. Featuring scores of actors dressed in full military uniform, this project had taken place on 1st July 2016 to commemorate the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the bloodiest day in British military history. The impact of the project had been huge, Dame Vikki noted. In a subsequent YouGov poll 63% of the adult population of the UK (some 30 million people) said that they had connected with it, with two million seeing events first-hand and 30 million participating online. People still came up to her to talk about it, she said.

As chair of the governors of a drama school which had moved online within four weeks, creating and delivering degrees, Vikki believed it unlikely that we would go back entirely to old ways, observing that we were recasting the student learning experience, especially for those who might not have been able to participate before. Similarly, enforced changes in cultural practice at the National Theatre were likely to be permanent. “If we make a production now what is embedded from the start is a conversation about how it will then go on to other platforms….I don’t think we now think as creatives of making one thing for one place in one sort of space.” Thinking about how work is created has “shot forward about 50 years” as a result of the pandemic, she said.

Thinking about the next calendar year and beyond, Vikki stressed that it would be important for creative people and organisations to find ways of helping the country to “reflect, to mourn and to memorialise, and generally to talk about what happened during the pandemic, because we haven’t been able to come together and do that properly yet, and we need to.” She reminded the audience that 2022 would be a big year for other reasons.  There would be the Commonwealth Games, around which a large cultural festival was being planned. There would also be the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. 2022 would also be a year of major anniversaries in the broadcasting industry, with celebrations marking the centenary of the BBC and fifty years of S4C and Channel 4.  We should also remind ourselves that Coventry’s year as the designated City of Culture had just begun in the most difficult of circumstances. So 2022 would be a year of pivotal moments.

This naturally led to Festival UK 2022, which Vikki chairs. This large-scale undertaking was definitely not going to be on a certain day, in a certain place and on a single platform, she said. Although detailed planning and development involving ten creative teams, selected after an exhaustive competitive process, was still under way, the brief was clear: to reach the entire population of the UK, that is 66 million people, and beyond to wider international audiences. This was being achieved by establishing new forms of partnership and collaboration with teams working across the conventional disciplines of maths, science, technology, engineering and the arts.  Artists, scientists and technicians were being challenged to think about how most effectively to create mass participatory cultural projects “that celebrate the creativity within us all”.

Vikki concluded by expressing a hope and a conviction for 2022.  The hope was that there would be “a really coherent conversation about teaching the creative skills that we need in the UK for our creative economy to continue to thrive.” The conviction was that there would be a lot more participatory events across a wide range of creative sectors. Returning to her first point, she stressed that “community spirit and identity….is absolutely what happens when you get a group of people together and say this space is yours.”

Following these introductory provocations, Caroline Norbury led a discussion between the speakers and members of the online audience.  A recording of the whole event will be available shortly.

Breathing Brick: A new artwork commissioned by SELF

Small white particles slowly descend against a black background. Some land on an invisible form, revealing its gently changing silhouette. Others continue to fall.

Small white particles slowly descend against a black background. Some land on an invisible form, revealing its gently changing silhouette. Others continue to fall.

As part of the Sustainable Enterprise London Festival SELFestival, we commissioned Ian Gouldstone to make a new art work that was a response to some of his experience of the last 12 months. The resulting work is viewable here if you click to the YouTube site.

 

Please spend time viewing it. We are amazed and so pleased  at how this work adds so much to our themes of optimism, inclusivity and diversity.

 

Value, Values and Shared Difference

Day two of our SELFestival had Professor Cregan-Reid sharing how we have shaped our environment and it in turn has shaped us, why we should think more carefully about the chair.. and how we can look for the right time to engage with sculptural texts.

Susan Aktemel introduced us to the socially led letting agency she founded, Homes for Good, and how it has scaled over the last year, and why her values of kindness and empathy have built a secure and confident social enterprise that is providing high quality homes for people renting in Glasgow.

Day 3 starts with perspectives from Teesa Bahana is the director of 32° East Ugandan Arts Trust and Rasheeda Nalumoso, Programme Manager, Arts  British Council: East Africa Arts. They will talk about how the pandemic has impacted the creative economy in Uganda, and more broadly, but also the need for investment in the art and imagination in the country. Tickets available here for the 10am session on 15th July

In the afternoon Dr Marcin Poprawski will introduce us to his research. Culture, organisation and sustainability management are at the heart of Marcin’s research. In this session he will reflect on his latest research in to Festivals and Values (Axio-normative dimensions of music festivals). Book here for the 2pm session.

Day 1 to Day 2 of Sustainable Enterprise London Festival

The SELFestival started with strong provocations to deeply consider what equity, inclusion, sustainability and decolonisation means and a clear reminder of the human-centric position we bring to this.

Tomorrow we have Professor Vybarr Cregan-Reid who will be reflecting with us on how running made him feel more human, how we have designed our spaces to make us less creative and physically adept and we’ll be reconsidering how we live.

Join us 10am, Wednesday 14th July: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/self-2021-the-anthropocene-adventures-in-living-and-reading-tickets-162673168827

In the afternoon inspiring Susan Aktemel will be talking about how she has created and led an award winning social enterprise that creates secure, quality homes for tenants. So needed as without feeling safe and having a strong space at home, how can we be resilient?

Join us 2pm, Wednesday 14th July: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/susan-aktemel-homes-for-good-inclusive-equitable-housing-tickets-162670153809

 

Sustainable Enterprise London Festival starts 2pm, Tuesday 13th July

Our first event of SELF 2021 is being led by Dr Harriet Harriss, Dean of Pratt School of Architecture, New York, starting with strong provocations around definitions and applications of sustainability and intersectionality.

Harriss’ research and practice has been exploring Ecological Sustainability as a Social Justice Project and finding that only intersectionality-informed design pedagogies can produce professionals capable of caring for the planet and each other.

Her new research shows that within the last few years, dominant understandings of the term ‘post-anthropocene’ have been routinely applied and sometimes wrongly assumed to refer to a future without humans – the default assumption is that post-anthropocene architecture is nothing more than spaces devoid of people. Rather than a world in which humans are the pinnacle species, contemplate the emergence of multi-species typologies that advantage and potentially rehabilitate other, vast diminishing life forms. The research project extends and develops the question of what an inclusive architecture of the post-anthropocene could look like. Harriss brings a more diverse set of voices, positions and knowledge(s) to develop the discourse writers/practitioners critically exploring the decolonization of space, environmental racism, food security, post-materialisms and other climate-critical concerns.

Harriss offers a theoretical foundation for the contemplation of the Post Anthropocene, non-binary ecology demands that we deconstruct our hetero-normative perception of nature and environmental politics to rethink how we might reconstruct the world anew. How can queer ecology reshape our spatial experiences? And what impact will this have on how we design the environments we inhabit?

Join us: Tuesday 13th July, 2pm (BST) through registering via Eventbrite.

Goldsmiths, University of London invites you to join in our second Sustainable Enterprise London Festival (SELFestival)

Born from the pandemic and frustrations at the inequalities that persist, SELFestival is a curated set of online conversations, interventions and art experiences that we intend to inspire and provoke globally. In our second year we will be exploring “the new different”, rather than a normal. Crucially we will be exploring how we can be optimistic for this new future and be active in building the change towards a more inclusive and equitable creative/social economy.

Speakers will include: Dr Harriet Harriss, Dean – Pratt School of Architecture, NY; George Gachara, Founder of HEVA Fund, Nairobi; Stella Duffy, author, London, Professor Vybarr Cregan-Reid, Professor of English and Environmental Humanities. Art interventions include new work from BAFTA winner Ian W Gouldstone.

Curated by Adrian De La Court and Sian Prime and supported by the Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship, Goldsmiths, University of London.

The event will be held online from 12th – 23rd July 2021. Register for more information via: icce@gold.ac.uk

AI and Society Series: ‘New Media Literacy and Politics’ Online Seminar

Dr Tomoko Tamari

Tomoko Tamari, senior lecturer of ICCE organized an online seminar on Wednesday June 9, 2021.  Media and Cultural Studies scholars critically discussed its implications in the era of digital information society. The event was successful and well-received with100 attendees from many parts of the world.

You can watch the webinar video here: AI and Society Series: ‘New Media Literacy and Politics’ Online Seminar

The purpose of the event is to explore questions of new media ethics and literacy arising from the increasing use of immersive AI technologies in society. As big data penetrate into various types of systems that have a profound impact on decision-making processes and practices in social life, the investigation of the ethics and politics around AI technologies become increasingly relevant. This becomes a particularly pressing issue in the current pandemic situation which has led to a major expansion of internet usage. As Bernard Stiegler remarks, AI is a ‘pharmakon’. A notion which reflects the paradoxical double meaning: cure and poison. While AI can be used to augment human capacities and to create new opportunities for social development, it also entails new risks. AI is generally both invisible and unintelligible (how it works) and carries ambiguous responsibilities and politics (how/who assesses its efficacy). This is because the new regulations and ethical frameworks of rapid technological innovations are insufficiently grounded, and people can’t adopt quickly enough to the radical technical transformations. To be more helpful and empowering, AI technologies need to be made intelligible for the wider public. People need to understand the political and technological decision-making processes of AI by sharing their experiences, practices, and knowledge in order to produce new forms of digital media literacy. Creating AI literacy requires a multi-stakeholder approach, which includes AI producers, consumers, rule-makers, and intermediaries. This event in particular aims to shed light on scholars who act as intermediaries between people and the practices of AI technologies. We invite Professor Kaori Hayashi to discuss the ethical framework of AI and Professor Shin Mizukoshi and a project researcher Atsushi Udagawa to examine the educational practices for new media literacy. Professor Matthew Fuller will join as a discussant to open up the broader implications of AI in the era of digital information society.

 

Speakers

Prof Kaori Hayashi (The Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies, Vice President of the University of Tokyo): Challenges for a Gender-Equal Society in the AI Era (PowerPoint presentation)

Prof Shin Mizukoshi (The Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies, the University of Tokyo): New Literacy for Media Infrastructure and “Media Biotope” (Dropbox Paper)

Atsushi Udagawa (The Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies, the University of Tokyo): Google Search Engine as “AI”: Historical Discourses about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in Japan (Dropbox Paper)

Discussant 
Prof Matthew Fuller (Department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London)

Chaired byDr Tomoko Tamari (Institute for Creative & Cultural Entrepreneurship, Goldsmiths, University of London)

International Symposium ‘After Tokyo Olympic: Re-Evaluation of Downtown North


International Symposium ‘After Tokyo Olympic: Re-Evaluation of Downtown North, organized by Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies, The University of Tokyo

Mike Featherstone and Tomoko Tamari were invited as keynote speakers and discussed city landscape and history.

City Images, Cityscapes and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Mike Featherstone
The Olympic Games is an event that shows the face of the city on the global stage.  Yet this raises the question of how city images are generated and become iconic?  In the case of Tokyo, Mount Fuji is often pulled in from the landscape to stand for the city as a whole.  This paper focuses on the generation of the Tokyo image for the 2020 Olympics in relation to the more varied and multiple images of cityscapes and streetscapes.  But also examines the dependence on various infrastructures (the hidden underground utilities) and Infostructures (the city of sensors generating data and ‘smartification’ processes).

Tokyo Olympics 2020: How to make the most of your visit to Japan, Good Housekeeping, 2019

 

Big Ben: Historicity, Spatiality and Knowledge Formation, Tomoko Tamari

The aim of this paper is to re-contextualize London’s landscape from the spatial-historical perspective. By doing so, the paper attempts to demonstrate how landscape as a space, is fundamental in various cultural forms in the history. There are many iconic architectures and landscapes in London, but I particularly focus on Big Ben. Drawing on Foucault’s notion of the heterotopia, the paper explores how space plays in our history. In his book The Order of Things, heterotopias had described Borges’ Chinese Encyclopaedia, which indicates non-linear form of memory and knowledge. This opened up Foucault’s ideas on knowledge production, classification and ordering.  For him, heterotopias act as ‘counter-sites, spaces in contestation of, or in contrast or opposition to’ other sites (Genocchio cited in Topinka 2010). Such contestation creates crucial conditions to generate new ways of ordering and to evoke new classification. Hence heterotopias can be seen as spaces to store and invert the existing knowledge and to create conditions for new knowledge formation will emerge. Big Ben as a heterotopic space which cannot be considered as the fixed and singular, but it can be seen as ‘many spaces in one site’. It can, therefore, be seen as a contested space, which evokes new knowledge and classification will be formed. Big Ben as a space offers ‘spatial histories’ and new ways of knowing of social life. Hence, this suggests that space is historical and ‘a history framed as a history of the present’, Stuart Elden claims.

Two government consultations which could have a significant impact on the long-term future of the UK’s cultural and creative industries (CCIs)

Although the impact of the pandemic on the UK’s creative sector has been uneven, with some tech-intensive sub-sectors (such as SVOD – streaming video on demand) now positively booming, the aggregate effect on the ‘creative industries,’ broadly defined, has been severe if not devastating, especially for the performing arts and the live entertainment industry.  Employment in the music and theatre businesses may have contracted by more than 70% since March 2020, in spite of the positive and critical role played by the government’s £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Fund.

Against this background two government consultations could potentially play a significant role in influencing long term outcomes for the creative sector. The first is a review by HM Treasury of the R&D tax credit R&D Tax Reliefs: consultation – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) which runs until June.  The second is a consultation by the Business Department (BEIS) on ‘subsidy control’ Subsidy control consultation – Designing a new approach for the UK – Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – Citizen Space which closed on 31st March.  Both consultations raise important questions about government intervention in the ‘creative economy’, the former focusing on innovation, research and development, the latter on state aid (‘subsidy’) and competition policy.  What is the role of the taxpayer in stimulating investment and how much support should be provided via the business tax system as distinct from direct or indirect public subsidies?

In Culture of Innovation, a ground-breaking report published by NESTA in 2010, Hasan Bakhshi and David Throsby examined the importance of ‘R&D’ in arts and cultural organisations Culture of Innovation | Nesta.  Drawing on research carried out with the National Theatre and the Tate Gallery, the authors scrutinised the role of innovation under four headings: extending audience reach; art-form development; value creation; and business models.  At that time, no arts organisation or commercial creative enterprise outside the film industry was eligible for tax relief for any business activity approximating to ‘innovation’ or ‘R&D’.  This landscape was later changed when seven new creative sector tax reliefs – for video games, animation, theatre, high-end drama and childrens’ TV, orchestras and museums and galleries – were introduced over a three-year period following the Budget of March 2012 (see Creative Industry tax reliefs for Corporation Tax – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).  These tax credits have in each case been used to finance new work – for example touring new shows and curating new exhibitions.  Even their one-time critics now regard them as an indispensable feature of the funding landscape.

What is significant here – this brings us to the first of the two government consultations – is that a separate regime of tax credits designed to support investment in industry-based research and development, introduced for SMEs in 2000 and extended to big companies in 2002, has been largely unavailable to the creative sector with important exceptions in the technology-intensive video games, animation and special effects (VFX) and design industries.  This is because the UK government’s eligibility rules are more restrictive than the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD’s) guidelines on which they are based.

The OECD’s Frascati Manual defines research and experimental development (R&D) as “creative and systematic work undertaken in order to increase the stock of knowledge – including knowledge of humankind, culture and society….” (emphasis added), whereas the UK government in its guidelines defines R&D for tax purposes as taking place only “when a project seeks to achieve an advance in science or technology.  The UK guidelines speak of activities “which directly contribute to achieving this advance in science or technology through the resolution of scientific or technological uncertainty….” (emphasis added).  They are consequently deemed to exclude the cultural and creative industries (CCIs) from eligibility except at the high-tech margins (the VFX industry is the best example).

Creative industry lobbyists have long complained about these arrangements – partly on the basis that the OECD’s Frascati guidelines are clearly intended to include culture-based activity and partly that the CCIs, no less than pharmaceuticals and life sciences companies, also engage in what is loosely called ‘R&D’.  But running this argument is far from straightforward.  Creative research and experimentation is conceptually and commercially different from science-based R&D: creative projects (like plays, films and games) are essentially one-off prototypes which, unlike drugs or electric vehicles, are ‘hit’-based and subject to the swings and fortunes of the box-office and public taste. They are neither functional nor amenable to being licensed for pan-global, branded consumption.  They also use different language, for example ‘workshopping’ in theatre and ‘script development’ in film and television.  Nonetheless musicals, movies and other forms of creative ‘content’ are, or so it is argued by the Creative Industries Federation (CIF) and others, just as dependent on up-front investment as any medicine or consumer durable and should not be discriminated against by a fiscal regime designed to incentivise such investment.

This argument has failed on several occasions but is now being mobilised again prompted by the current Treasury consultation.  For the latest articulation of the case see the papers produced by the Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) here Policy-briefing_-RD-in-the-arts-humanities-and-social-sciences.pdf (pec.ac.uk) and by Prof. Andrew Chitty, the Arts & Humanities Research Council’s creative industries ‘champion’, here R&D Tax Credits – wider, bigger, better – CRAIC (lboro.ac.uk).

The second, altogether more abstract consultation on ‘subsidy control’ is a direct consequence of Brexit.  Withdrawal from the European Union signifies withdrawal from the EU’s competition and state-aid regime which, for reasons both of domestic policy and international trade, must now be replaced with a home-grown substitute.  This consultation deals in terms of high-level principles and is hard to pin down as regards sector-specific application or practical consequences.

The complex public-private financing ecology which sustains the CCIs in the UK has emerged from successive economic interventions over many decades, ranging from the inauguration of the BBC in 1922 through to the establishment of other public sector broadcasters (PSBs), like ITV and Channel 4 in the 1950s and 1980s, and the more recent creative sector tax credits referred to earlier. The fear is that this interlocking web is theoretically at risk from the introduction of any competition policy regime which fails to recognise the inter-dependence of these interventions, especially in the nations and regions where the role of the PSBs has been critical to sustaining the audio-visual core of creative business activity.

Why should we be concerned?  The answer is that many of these interventions, including most obviously the very existence of the BBC, is dependent on the view taken by the government of the day of what constitutes ‘market failure’; and on the critical intersection between market failure analysis, industrial policy and wider cultural policy.  This is implicitly acknowledged in question 9 of the BEIS consultation which asks whether the audio-visual sector should be included in the new subsidy control regime. (The only sensible answer on current information is “it depends”!).

Whilst there is no obvious reason to suppose that HM Treasury is about to initiate a bonfire of creative sector tax credits given their well-documented and continually trumpeted success in stimulating inward investment, a government which, to almost universal dismay, declined to negotiate continuing low-cost membership of the EU’s Creative Europe programme and has recently abandoned the industrial strategy launched in 2017 by former Secretary of State Greg Clark (see my earlier lecture here ‘Creative industries’ revisited: contestable narratives, the ‘sector deal’ and the Policy and Evidence Centre (gold.ac.uk), is bound to make us all nervous about its intentions until there is greater clarity about direction of travel.

Dr Martin Smith is a Visiting Fellow in ICCE

Rethinking Arts Management in a Pandemic

Arts management does not exist in a vacuum, and neither do arts organisations. The arts are a petri dish where culture grows and develops in response to wider social, political and economic contexts and changes in society. It is inevitable then, that much like the arts we manage, the way we teach has also changed in response to Covid-19. Some of these changes will hopefully be temporary, but others will hopefully stay. The ability to engage with professionals from around the world, and with students from every corner of the world through a computer has provided radical new ways of working, but also radical new modes of practice. Central to our model of arts management teaching is a close relationship with art, artists, and arts organisations. That has been no different this year, and in many ways has been more exciting, dynamic, and future focused than before.

 

Building a community 

As a team we were quick to isolate the core components of our teaching ethos – student centred design, a safe and supportive learning environment, and access to world leading thinkers. Indeed it was this ethos that helped us to shape our first approach at creating a space that could replicate our learning community in an online environment. Induction week is an exciting time for staff and students, it’s a chance to meet new people, experience new things, and get a taste for what is to come. Working with Exit Productions, a UK based theatre company, we commissioned a performance of their successful interactive, online show ‘Jury Duty’ for our new students. The show which lasted for just under two hours puts the audience in the role of Juror, together they must review the evidence, meet the defendant, and ultimately decide if they committed the crime.  This provided students with the chance to get to know each other, have fun, and to think about online performance, and the role of the audience in ‘creating’ performance. 

This same group of students were then able to reverse roles, and develop their own online performances. Working with Adam Marple, Artistic Director of The Theatre of Others, students devised a set of five performances inspired by Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. The results were inspiring, and showed how arts managers can learn through the practices of the arts that they manage. You can see some examples of this work below.

(First row: L-R: Tala, Alex, George and Ines. Second row: L-R: Ida, Silvia, Adam, Emma)


Insights from the arts

This year we have worked with our brilliant network of creative professionals to bring their insights to students in new ways, but we have also used this moment to develop the ways in which we work with visiting professionals. This year we have had visiting professionals from The Design Museum, Barbican, Royal Academy, Morris Hargreaves McIntyre, British Museum, Charlotte Spencer Projects, Royal Albert Hall, Deptford X, Tramshed, Laura Callender PR, Arts Council England, Tate, Whitechapel Gallery, Migration Museum, Southbank Centre, Mall Galleries, Wigmore Hall, Greenwich and Docklands International Festival, Bush Theatre, Akram Khan.

Typically second year students undertake an in depth case study by being embedded in an arts organisations, this year we moved to online mentor sessions. These sessions provided students with the opportunity to work closely with visiting professionals, to have honest dialogue, and develop their confidence in having professional conversations. Our mentors were drawn from SPACE, Horniman Museum, Wired PR, Young Arts Fundraisers.

 

International perspectives

We have also had the opportunity to receive contributions that add an international perspective, for example students on the “Fundraising in the Arts Module” were able to meet with staff from The Whitney Museum of American Art, and The Morgan Library in New York to gain insights into the American Model of Fundraising.

This year we launched a new optional module called ‘The State of Hip Hop’ which brought together scholars from Goldsmiths and beyond, with Faculty and students from Temple University, Philadelphia joining some of the sessions, this new virtual collaboration provided an opportunity for international perspectives on this module. A number of external academics also contributed to this module including: Dr Greg DeCuir Jr, Curator of the Black Light Retrospective, Dr Monique Charles Grime independent scholar; Dr Gabriel Dattatreyan, Department of Anthropology at Goldsmiths and Dr Jaspal Singh, University of Hong Kong.

For a number of years now we have worked with LASALLE College of Arts, in Singapore. In 2019 we sent a small group of students to Singapore to work with students from LASALLE to develop a joint research project which sought to challenge ‘the status quo as the role of arts management’. Students with the support of Faculty developed a series of case studies which demonstrated innovative practice in the UK and London. This year this partnership was developed virtually, and future collaborations are planned. This partnership is funded through the Goldsmiths-LASALLE Partnership Innovation Fund (PIF)

 

Students in their final year

In the final year of BA Arts Management students are supported to develop their own professional and academic interests, and this year has been no different. We have been inspired by the new ways that students see the world, the solutions they offer and the practice they develop. In terms of dissertations we have students researching environmental sustainability at music festivals, the impact of Covid on music venues in London, emerging business models in the commercial art market, and the social benefits of arts facilitation on newly arrived refugees to the UK. Increasingly students are engaging with digital platforms and digital culture, with focus groups and interviews via zoom, and digital ethnography methods being used to develop new ways of thinking about how we experience culture online.

Students have also been running their own events and raised over £1000 from Kickstarter to run online projects. Identities Theatre explore the complexities of cultural identity through the medium of theatre and Express-impress have created an online arts platform to engage young people in social and political activity. One group of students has teamed up with Design students at Goldsmiths to create the online exhibition I-N-S-I-D-E  which focuses on developing creativity and having fun whilst stuck inside. These events and projects will all be delivered by the end of May.

 

What next?

We are excited to build on our successes this year, and to help future proof our students for this new world. In Autumn 2021 we launch a new core module ‘Digital Culture, Digital Literacies’ which will provide first year students with the opportunity to critically engage with digital technologies, and develop the skills needed to collaborate digitally with colleagues around the world. This module examines platforms, and information hierarchies from a theoretical perspective, and provides students with the skills and knowledge to not only use these technologies, but also to examine the intended and unintended consequences of creating culture online. What we have learnt this year is that teaching arts management is much like arts management itself, always shifting, always changing, exciting, challenging and dynamic. That is something that is unlikely to change, and as a team that is something we are excited about.

Dr Oonagh Murphy is a Lecturer in Arts Management.

You can find out more about BA Arts Management, academic staff in ICCE and our BA Arts Management Alumni.