Instead of winding down, we wound up, building from every incredible contribution to new insights from George Gachara and Dr Raven Bowen.
George challenged us: “What is good business? Can a business take on the values of goodness (or badness)?”. He spoke of the importance of a business being steeped in its own value and history and gave insight in to how he had built new forms of finance, looking at the relationships with employees in a business and working to find ways to support a business to hold on to its own equity. George reflected on strong collaboration being based on inward reflection, an analysis of your skills, how you exist as a person and how your work exists in the world. It is an honest view of self, your interests, and how your interests can dovetail with others interests.
Sometimes we exaggerate our capacities, it’s always important to have a bit of honesty, to achieve anything we hope to achieve, then you need other people to choose you.
Raven talked about the complexity of sustaining a charity, of balancing service provision and financial resilience and the shifting requirements, needs and foci of funders. She spoke of the important of developing opportunities for developing strategic partnerships that do work similar or adjacent to the charity, and not needing to lead every application or project. Collaboration for her comes from a place of taking a time to understand the interests of other parties or other groups and truly deciding what are the shared goals, what are the tensions, what can we work together on? How does that serve our various interests and users? There needs to be a transparency and honesty, about what the collaboration is… really being open about who benefits from the collaboration.
And that was it, the end of the 2023 SELFestival.
Stand out sentences for me: Compassion is not just a feeling, it is an active process; patience is not passive, compassion feeds authenticity, kindness is a social convention.
This festival has been as exhausting, exhilarating, generous and inspiring as any form of Festival. Thanks to all speakers, and to students and Goldsmiths for allowing us to deliver our teaching in an open and collaborative way.
Siân & Adrian
Day 9 of our Festival
Bobby Kolade spoke to us from his fashion design studio in Kampala, Uganda with Rasheeda Nalomosa joining us from Nairobi, Kenya to talk about the circular economy in Uganda and wider in East Africa, and ways that creative enterprises are tackling climate and sustainability challenges. They gave insights in to the need to unlearn, that running successful creative companies for them is finding new ways to develop creative offers and then different ways of doing business. Much of the learning from universities and text books did not offer new disruptive approaches that were world withing (Haraway, 1988) so they were creating radically different ways of working.
Rasheeda spoke of the optimism that she had about the new networks across the continent, and the opportunities to think bigger and acknowledge the potential through and with others. Bobby told us that his optimism was fuelled by his team, but that when he reflected on collaboration he first thought of the collaborations between large scale brands, and how these were less about mutual exchange and more about ways to increase sales and encourage people to buy more.
The session reminded me that the optimism I have for the creative industries and for ways of “doing” business better, more ethically with less harm to people and the planet come from the radical but gentle, innovations in East Africa.
In the afternoon Ashley Evenson gave a workshop that encouraged participants to find new ways of developing relationships with clients, customers and other collaborators by finding ways to tell stories with alternative main characters. Ashley reflected that compassion is about taking yourself out of the main character role, and about meeting people where they are.
Tomorrow we start with George Gachara, creative industry strategist, a fund advisor, and an investor in creative industries in Africa. He is also a senior entrepreneurship fellow and a founder. We will reflect together on notions of Good Business. He will be followed by our final festival guest, Dr Raven Bowen from National Ugly Mugs, and we will explore notions of sustainability and support for a charity that supports marginalised people.
Two very different speakers and sets of experiences in the SELFestival today.
Robin Braum, co-founder of Squareglass and Head of Label Management at !K7 Music talked through the experiences he has gained as an artist, label owner and now employee at a label. All of his work has been characterised through his approaches to collaboration, being open to being wrong and surprised. Reflecting on the need to be patient, he also was clear that things never felt static. He spoke about how he built relationships with listeners, developing the authentic connections that would lead to more sustainable practices being possible. The need to be respectful to music forms, creators and how to acknowledge the inputs from inspiration to sampling.
Deborah Williams also gave her insights from being an artist, cultural leader, venue manager and now lead of Creative Diversity Network which exists to enable the UK Broadcasting industry to increase diversity and inspire inclusion. She spoke about the various ways she engaged people in the broader vision and mission to achieve the aims of a more diverse creative sector. She showed in her way of listening to us that she sincerely valued everyone’s experiences, the clarity that once you have seen diversity you cannot unsee it, needing to listen to people to be an ally in the space. “Compassion – it frees you. Because I have responded to someone on their own terms.”
Tomorrow we have Bobby Kolade speaking about his disruptive sustainable fashion business in Uganda – Return to Sender, speaking with Rasheeda Nalomoso – dramaturg and British Council Arts Officer. In the afternoon Ashley Evenson and Chris Stokes will run a storytelling workshop to help us release the main character in our own stories. https://www.eventbrite.com/cc/selfestival-2023-2286519
Museums and Carnivals – two very different forms of cultural consumption and experience, but Day 7 of our SELFestival spent time reviewing the complexity of ownership and representation.
Dr Sylvia Lahav spoke about who chooses what is shown in a museum/gallery, owned, sometimes never shown but owned, and how it is written about to engage/educate or tell “this is what I see, now let me tell you what you should see”. She reminded us that museums/galleries did not always have a mandate to educate. The honesty about privilege, class and finance was shared, “as long as the permanent collections exist we are reminded of power, status, mobility and class.”. She encouraged us to question the notion of legacy and encouraged our curiosity and to not know.
Carnival and the origins and current expression were explored by Dr Sharon LeGall, together with the complexity of an almost social franchise model. The divide between celebration of culture and culture appropriation was very carefully explored, together with the impacts of colonisation. “Cultures are not stagnant” and as they evolve so does the work, so tradition and current expression and technical movements are adapted together. The scale of Carnival is huge – the ecosystem of employment and engagement comes to tens of thousands, and the research Dr LeGall has undertaken in to the inidgenous knowledge was generously shared – “Collaborations should be open, persons should know what they are getting into… Persons should know how their creative work will be used. It may be difficult to walk in somebody else’s shoes, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.”
Tomorrow we hear from independent musician, and alumni of ICCE and Goldsmiths Robin Braum. Followed by ICCE Fellow Deborah Williams The Festival has foregrounded many themes, compassion, optimism, collaboration and the relationship and needs for both learned and lived experience.
A change in pace this week to look at, as Professor Vanus James said “the knowledge, skills and self-confidence” to innovate. Josh Shuermann opened the day giving insight in to the ways that Intellectual Property can support creatives to develop sustainable enterprises, and the ways to protect, exploit and sustain creative livings.
Vanus explained the modelling and mapping he had undertaken, funded by WIPO to look at how the creative industries could develop the Caribbean economies. He outlined the investment in education – at all levels – as well support with export and distribution mechanisms. The strong work in music as well as video games and many other areas of the creative industries are clear in the Caribbean countries, and Professor James showed what policy interventions would be needed to enable the potential to be realised. We were also left aware of the negative impact of the colonial past in the country, and Vanus suggested that for the countries to move forward all citizens needed to be brought into the process, to ensure firm foundations for the creative industries.
Tomorrow we hear from Dr Sylvia Lahav on Winners, Losers and Choosers: the Modern Museum, followed by insights in to the IP and Traditional Knowledge from Dr Sharon LeGall – in particular the steeldrum and carnival.
Week 2 of our Sustainable Enterprise London Festival is moving to look at the frameworks, ecosystems and to take a macro-view of the cultural economy.
Exciting to have Joshua Schuermann from Reed Smith, bringing his knowledge and experience of IP legislation and some of the complexities of implementing it.
In the afternoon Professor Vanus James will be sharing his research and give insights in to the creative industries as a contributor to development, and the approaches and results of national strategies for promoting the creative industries from his experience of the Caribbean economies.
An important shift in perspectives for week 2.
Day 5 – Week 1
Our last contributors to the first week were Drew McOnie and Ana Garanito.
Ana as Head of Scripted brings her expertise and experiences in story development, structuring stories and working to widen the opportunities for a greater breadth of people to be included in film, media and tv and stories to be told. Drew as a Director, Choreographer, theatre and film maker simply says his job is to tell stories. Both brought key perspectives and experiences in to our Festival. It was a beautiful and inspiring end to a rich week.
Drew gave us simple – but powerful tops in to making spaces more inclusive to bring a diversity of talent, and ensure equity – his Company had been founded to find new ways to support talent in dance: “The thing I am most proud of is the environment in which something is being made , and everyone in the space feeling as if they own part of it.” He spoke of patience – a recurring theme – and he reflected on this in terms of dance vocabulary: “Every step is about laying the foundations of where you want to be – The long phrase”. He gave us a strong image of standing in a river and having the choice to go with the flow or stand against the current and build new tributaries. His work as a Company Director as well as artist – and negotiating ways forward “Dealing with the gate keepers who are very, very used to being heard, but not very good at listening.” -vitally ” 90% of collaboration is listening..Compassion is my work”.
Ana talked us through her way in to film and tv and how through Green Door Pictures. and as Head of Scripted she worked to ensure stories are well told – and how she and the production company worked to tell stories that may otherwise be lost. She spoke of the need to bring together a team and how to tackle the gatekeepers, particularly commissioners. There was reflection on how decisions on what is commissioned were made, and the reliance on data to make decisions to predict what would gain high audience ratings, and yet audiences want to be surprised and the tensions around decision-making and who ultimately are the gatekeepers to which stories get told. There is huge optimism around the changes happening, even if slowly, disruption and change is happening.
We reflected on the potential of themes for films still leading, but the importance of amending and making work more culturally appropriate for the settings of the work and doing this with integrity “Compassion is authenticity”.
A powerful week of insights from cultural and creative disruptors – showing the importance of faith, patience, compassion and optimism.
Our fourth day included Christopher Tendai (founder of CTC Dance Company ) and Veda Harrison each have very different careers, but their talks gave insights in to their approaches and shared values.
Chris to embedding education and conversation in to his practice – engaging audiences in conversation after performances, and developing work for young people that ensures the development of dancers who engage with identity and anti-racism and creativity. The complexity of developing a sustainable living while managing risk and relationships – deep listening and working to ensure that all involved in the company are given an equitable starting place are key to the process. Chris shared his approach of understanding barriers to success and inclusion in a sector and then working with them or round them to create new business models for the sector and finding partners who have the same level of integrity and authenticity.
Patience for the time that change might need is a crucial piece of advice from Veda’s experiences – the work to support young people, communities and find ways to using that waiting time to mindfully, or creatively develop work – valuing the journey and the destination equally. Veda spoke about her time as a Goldsmiths student and how she had studied both Sociology and Communication – and this, plus the opportunities to be playful and make mistakes without failing had informed her interest and deep skill in communication. There was reflection on the pressure and complexity of often being the only Black woman in spaces and how to design for systemic change https://reframingrace.org/data/it-takes-a-system. The importance of faith and that there is potential for change are key to Veda’s optimism – and faith in different forms has been emerging as a theme in this year’s festival.
The final day of the first week will look at how stories are told in different ways, Drew McOnie will talk about his work as a choreographer, director and working across theatre, dance and film – and how he has developed a strong leadership style that ensures strong performance from all engaged. Ana Garanito Head of Scripted at Green Door Pictures will talk about who gets to tell their story – and how. https://www.eventbrite.com/cc/selfestival-2023-2286519
Understanding the whole person, not just the thinking, but the body and considering approaches that are not predominantly or solely informed from a cis, white, male lens has been central to this year’s Festival. Reflecting and learning from approaches that are not extractive and acknowledging that, when considering how to commercialise culture, or act entrepreneurially with creativity we need to develop inclusive ways of working – not simply download a template and place it, however uncomfortably, or comfortably on others.
Stella Duffy is someone who inspires many, and we have benefitted from her generous sharing and improvisational talks – reminding us that you can only improvise if you really know your area and skillset. Today she encouraged us to engage our body when researching, thinking, writing – to acknowledge where we have come from and how it and others inspire us. It was an incredibly powerful, rich and thoughtful session, providing techniques that we can take forward in to our own practice. “’It is the edges of our maps we want to get to – and, we want to fall off” she encouraged.
Ensuring that approaches to Inclusion and Diversity are authentic and that practice, education and enterprise develop ways of working that ensure equity was underlined in Jessica Allen’s contribution to the Festival. We heard examples of when she had been invited to deliver transinclusive work, but then had been stopped, questioned and subjected to abuse, with compassion Jessica gave us insight in to how we could listen, deeply, ask and support people who are marginalised. Jessica also gave us insights in to how careers in the cultural industries, perhaps particularly dance, benefit from entrepreneurial approaches. “Be a bastion of iron for the people who need it. Be a barrier for them. We need it now more than ever” and “don’t say or be an ally – be better”.
Both speakers stimulated conversation and positive changes in our ways of being and working.
Tomorrow the approaches that Christopher Tendai has developed to inclusion within the performing arts will be offered, and Veda Harrison will talk about how she works to ensure collaborative programme design and her experiences in creative learning, grant-funding and banking. https://www.eventbrite.com/cc/selfestival-2023-2286519.
Day 2 of Sustainable Enterprise London Festival
Leaning forward from the insights about the need to create robust networks and that “being the first” is not often or always something to celebrate Mandy Berry talked us through her connected, though non-linear, career. Throughout her work Mandy has innovated across creative sectors, and always brought her passion for people’s potential to every project and enterprise and developed strong networks. Having started her work in East London she has now moved to Cornwall, which gives different approaches to the formation of networks and new perspectives to sustainability. The impact of the climate crisis is clear, the end of older industries and the changes in funding have had complex ramifications on the county; finding ways to collaborate with empathy, deep listening and constructing new networks of hope and honesty are needed to support the creative sector and the wider communities.
March Muses celebrate diversity by ensuring that celebrations are truly inclusive, their first product range was Christmas Decorations, pointing to the surprising, and awful gap in the UK and global markets. One of March Muses’ co-founders: Alison Burtall explained the complexity of developing a business that requires collaboration with manufacturers and distribution while managing other work and both Founder Directors being single parents. March Muses, through exposure on Dragon’s Den which led to investment and advice. The barriers to Black Female entrepreneurs in gaining finance are huge, and March Muses are determined to change the landscape to one of equity – encouraging change and inclusion from Boards to worker level. Their work is built on ambition, hustle and authenticity.
Tomorrow brings a change in pattern with a workshop run by Stella Duffy, which will remind us of the importance of our body in our creative work and research. The afternoon will be led by Jessica Allen – where again we will look at barriers to inclusion, intersectionality and the power of inclusion.