Archive for the ‘creative industries’ tag
Last week, I wrote about creative economy, and although there’s a lot more to say and think about, today, I’m wondering about the products that make up the creative economy. The United Kingdom’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport defines creative industries as, “those activities which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property.” While a creative product may exist as a physical entity (think paper, film, computer disk…), its value is in its meaning and what it represents—its content. The content/information of a creative product is boundless, but that content/information defines its value. Creativeclusters.org offers a good example, “Even with a designer T-shirt or a piece of [jewelry], it’s the style, the design that counts, not the cloth or the metal.”
This past weekend, on the Lower East side, New York, several artists and community organizations opened an exhibition, that puts this concept to the test. HomeBase IV, is an exhibition in a vacant medical clinic. This is not an exhibition of art created somewhere else and then transported into a pristine, neutral gallery for contemplation. A lot of what you can see in HomeBase IV, was created from materials found in the existing space. The creative product, the process, the content, and the experience of visiting the site give the project value.
“’When we arrived, it had nothing in it,’ said Leor Grady, the curatorial and programming director of the project. ‘It smelled like a combination of mildew, chemicals, medical waste and sheet rock.’ Even after a cleaning, the worn peachy-beige walls, industrial carpeting and fluorescent lighting retain a sterility that serves as a palette for the sometimes unsettling works.”
A variety of artists collaborated to explore the notion of “home,” in this specific space (unused clinic) and to engage the residents of a changing neighborhood. This means that the artists met together, talked, read, and interacted with the public to determine what would happen in the space, as well as worked to design what a visitor can see. (See images) All at once, the meaning for the project/action is in the process and its space–the product becomes spatial, as it connects people, place, and time. Gone is the presumption that art=object, or that art can only exist isolated from community in a building labeled as gallery or museum. As reported in the New York Times, one of the artists, Paul Sepuya, a Brooklyn photographer of Ugandan descent eloquently describes his reality and makes his experience tangible. “I thought it would be interesting to apply the idea of home as spatial,” he says. “When you’re not at home, it’s constructed by your family’s stories.” His contribution to the exhibition includes portraits of friends and neighbors who like him, have some association with Uganda—a “home” that Sepuya has never visited! Another artist, Dafna Shalom took photos of men in the neighborhood who reminded her of her father — a hand here, a hairstyle there. Our realities are often constructed through small gestures that we don’t notice, but become intriguing when we stop and think. If a smelly, unused, and dingy health clinic in New York, can be reinvented as a site for building community and thinking about the meaning of “home,” what are we overlooking?
Creative economy is driven by creative industry. Products are reorganized from seeming non-existence, although the ideas and materials may already have been there. Ideas are what transforms materials and what can transform people, neighborhoods, cities, and towns! There are lots of creative spaces and events that promote thinking in and about Fort Collins. This week we can think about caring for each other by simply eating out to help United Way of Larimer County. Later in the week, think about places that used to be here but only exist as fading away signs painted on buildings in Old Town, or join others to think about an area of Fort Collins that will grow in the future. You can contemplate exhibitions about Dreams, Floating Worlds, and art made by senior citizens. Perhaps you’ll ride the trolley and think about public transport, or learn more about the public art that helps create a sense of place in our city. All the details are at www.visitfortcollins.com!
The whole world is a museum without walls!
How do we sustain creativity? How do we sustain community? These questions are increasingly being asked nationally and internationally as some first world countries struggle to compete in traditional markets and many nations hope for a magical catalyst for urban regeneration. In New Zealand, Australia, Canada and to some extent Europe, these questions are increasingly salient as their populations become more multiculturally diverse. In some ways, then, the questions of sustaining creativity as well as community are intricately tied to a much larger commitment to sustaining diversity. This is not a insignificant shift in thinking as many of our modern nation states and indeed cities, have been founded on a form of ‘homogenizing’ in order to accomplish solidarity.
Jon Hawkes, a cultural analyst in Australia has done some important work on exactly these issues for public planning and policy in the 21st century. In his book, The Fourth Pillar of Sustainability: Culture’s Essential Role in Public Planning, he examines the importance and interconnectedness of 4 pillars of community sustainability, namely — environmental responsibility, economic health, social equity and cultural vitality. Hawkes argues that we often focus on the economic health of sustaining communities to the exclusion of the others and we fail to recognize the fundamental importance of cultural vitality to community planning. Furthermore, Hawkes argues that a community’s vitality and quality of life is directly correlated to the vitality and quality of its cultural engagement, expression, dialogue and celebration.
As a result, connecting cultural and communal sustainability, as we have also discussed with Tom Borrup, lies in fostering respectful partnerships and exchanges between multiple and diverse community stakeholders such as government, business and arts organizations. For many communities seeking a path to sustainability, this means re-imagining the connections between creative industries that ” focus on creating unique property, content or design that did not previously exist” and other economic industry drivers such as retail, real estate and financial services, as well as manufacturing. In a creative community economy, these industry sectors interlock as they focus on creating and deploying intellectual property and creative products such as books, music etc as well as creative services such as advertising and architecture across diverse sectors. There are also the live performance experiences which drive cultural tourism and which are central to community vitality as well. But more than that, it means, as seen in Gateshead and in Perth, a dedication to equity, responsibility and vitality for all community members to ensure their collective wellbeing.
As we enter this month of Finding Home and our collective stories of immigration, it is important to remember where we have come from, what we have brought with us, how to hold onto our cultural stories and practices, and then how to weave them in a way that recognizes all histories/herstories equally and which represents and equally engages, celebrates and expresses them culturally. This is no mean feat for communities and nations grounded in homogeneity. However, our multicultural nature and world now require us to rethink our ways of being together so that we all may live in a home built together. We have some wonderful opportunities for this kind of dialogue in Northern Colorado this next month and hope to hear from many of you at these events!
Wherever you go, there you are!