The Social Factory

the blog of King's CMCI PostGrad Society


Calling all Sweetcorn Club agents…

Okay so this quite possibly should not be going on this blog but then again apparently I am organising it now so maybe this is part of the “new regime”.

After todays seminar, prompted no doubt by the somewhat depressing prospect that the monetary value of our creative labours are going to be sucked up by the ubiquitous neo-liberal beast, we got talking about money and making it. And so here’s a little business plan as promised with the organic veg thing. I have taken the liberty to call ourselves the Sweetcorn Club after the distribution of the arguably very nice sweetcorn I brought in the other week. Please can someone get that picture up on the blog so we can all see it!

So a car arrives outside Kings at 1pm on Wednesdays. There’s about 8 of us new PhD people – so we have 80 bags – 10 for each person/agent. Each of us takes 10 bags and distributes them to people who have ordered through us around Kings.

The maths/money..

Each bag sells for £10 (maybe £12.50 for richer people like the VC?!). The cost is £6 each so each person makes a nice £40 for say 15 minutes work. Well that’s like £160/hr which is.. what ,40 times more than the £4/hour that PhD people get paid for doing teaching, taking into account preparations etc (or is it £5/hr .. whatever – it’s not that great).

Sounds pretty good to me. If you’re interested the inaugural meeting of the Sweetcorn Club will take place – after the seminar next week?

If all this seems a bit tricky let me finish this post with an antidote to all that post-modernist miserablism, from Nelson Mandala

“Things seem impossible till they happen” – and well who would want to argue with Nelson on that score.

Roger


Doing Women’s Film and Television History Conference 2014

Read Tamsyn Dent’s report on the panel she did with CMCI’s Bridget Conor and Natalie Wreyford at the Doing Women’s Film and Television History Conference 2014. The panel was entitled “Forget the female, take that away from my job title, I’m a writer and I expect to be treated the same’: Challenging myths of participation in creative work. Reflecting too perhaps, Nicki Menaj’s comments yesterday that she no longer wants to be considered just a “female rapper”.

Tamsyn Dent

Conferences are a great way to get away from the computer screen, share ideas, thoughts on research and catch up with other academics from related fields so I felt very honoured to have a paper accepted as part of a panel presentation on the 2nd ‘Doing Women’s Film and Television History’ conference organised by a committee of academics from the Women’s Film and Television History Network (click on link to take you straight to their site).

The purpose of this conference is to provide a space for academics, activists and industry professionals to consider the specific contribution of women to film and television. Given that women have been significantly contributing to film and television for over a hundred years, it is perhaps a little depressing that this is only the second year that the conference has been running but here’s hoping that its scope and status continues to develop into…

View original post 1,068 more words


Higher Education engagement with the art and cultural sector: bridging community knowledge and practices

Dr Roberta Comunian (King’s College London) and Dr Abigail Gilmore (University of Manchester) recently visited Queensland University of Technology to discuss the relationship between higher education and the creative economy in Australia. Bringing the UK experience into this discussion they consider the role of collaborative frameworks for connecting universities with regional arts and creative industries.

Originally posted on Arts Queenland. See original post here: Arts for all Queenslanders Strategy

roberta comunian

Historically universities have been key cultural players in cities and communities, and the UK higher education sector has long been engaging with arts and culture, for example through hosting museums and performing arts spaces on campus and by engaging in academic research on arts and cultural topics and activities. Latterly, there has been a growing pressure from policy to understand better the real contribution (and impact) of higher education to the arts sector and the creative economy, and also to facilitate and support this engagement to enhance its potential. There has been a marked evolution in the thinking and practice of engagement between higher education institutions and the arts and cultural sector in recent years in the UK, which has been fuelled by a series of policy and consultancy research reports as well as by new funding initiatives such as the AHRC Creative Economy Hubs.

Initially, relationships between higher education and the arts and cultural sector have been characterised by the assumption that knowledge sitting within academia can benefit the work and practice of creative practitioners and organisations. Although this ‘ideal type’, which we call in our typology the ‘injection model’, is still relevant to today’s collaborative practices (especially in the case of consultancy work and commissioned research), it remains quite unidirectional. Similarly, collaborations which position higher education institutions as ‘cultural agents’ in their own right (often via their own galleries and cultural infrastructure) can have limited scope in linking university stakeholders with local communities to widen participation.

However, other modes of engagement are emerging to take central stage in this landscape, which question and blur the boundaries and roles of academia and the arts sector. Two dimensions are key to these new, more essentially collaborative approaches: firstly, human capital, and secondly, the production of shared space or ‘third space’.

In reference to human capital there is a clear acknowledgement both within academia and the arts world that collaborations and exchanges are based on individuals and their networks and knowledge. Here the arts is a source of knowledge assets for academia, as theoretical knowledge requires the importing of practice-led expertise, for example professionals engaged in teaching as guests and sometimes even in tenured, permanent positions. Similarly students and academics are encouraged to take part in community cultural activities, which see their ‘local citizenship’ and ‘social responsibility’ as a key element in the dialogue. One interesting case study of shared human capital is at University of Manchester, where the Director of the university-owned Whitworth Art Gallery, Dr Maria Balshaw, is also Joint Director of the Manchester (City) Art Gallery, and has just become the Strategic Lead for Culture for Manchester City Council (you can listen to Dr Maria Balshaw talking about this here).

Shared spaces are another key form of engagement which instigates collaborative practice.  Some shared spaces are physical infrastructures (for example incubation spaces, shared facilities), others are virtual platforms or ‘third spaces’, where academic knowledge mixes and negotiates with specialist knowledge from the art sector and its communities. An example of creating shared space is the curated Public Programme ran by Nottingham Contemporary in close partnership with the local universities (listen to the presentation of Isobel Whitelegg on this project here).

The AHRC-funded research network ‘Beyond the Campus: Higher Education and the Creative Economy’ tries to capture these modes of engagement and dialogue that enable higher education and the arts and cultural sector to add value to each others’ work via collaborative practices and knowledge exchange. It can be difficult to capture the nuances of the wide range of interactions taking place but we hope that a better knowledge of these modes of engagement – and their limits and challenges – can give both academics and creative practitioners better tools for future collaboration on and off-campus.    Whilst early research shows a reciprocal commitment from both parties, there are also challenges and difficulties emerging in the findings specifically in reference to institutional and practical processes and structures and also connected to motivations and rewards for collaboration.  It would be interesting to find out whether these challenges are relevant in the Australian context and whether arts organisations face different issues in their work with academia in Queensland?

Dr Roberta Comunian and Dr Abigail Gilmore

Dr. Roberta Comunian is Lecturer in Cultural  and Creative Industries at the Department for Culture, Media and Creative Industries at King’s College London.  She previously worked at the University of Kent and at the University of Southampton. She holds a European Doctorate title in Network Economy and Knowledge Management. She is interested in: relationship between public and private investments in the arts, art and cultural regeneration projects, cultural and creative industries, creativity and competitiveness.

Dr Abigail Gilmore is Director of the Centre for Arts Management and Cultural Policy at the University of ManchesterHer doctoral research, awarded by the University of Leicester, was on popular music, cultural policy and local music scenes and communities. She has been involved in a range of policy-related academic research projects, including an AHRC funded study of the Millennium Dome, the development of local cultural strategies and creative industries mapping, before going on to work in advisory and consultancy positions to the cultural sector with government departments and non-departmental bodies in the North West, for the last five years.

The research network is supported by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Feature image:  Queensland Academy for Creative Industries  Photo by Dr Abigail Gilmore


CFP: Creating Cultures: Postgraduate conference in Culture, Media, and the Creative Industries, King’s College London

CFP: Creating Cultures: Postgraduate conference in Culture, Media, and the Creative Industries, King’s College London

Keynote speaker: Prof. Lev Manovich, CUNY

Held on the 12th and 13th of June 2014, this multi-disciplinary postgraduate conference seeks a broad array of perspectives that explore cultural representations, practices, and industries. The title ‘Creating Cultures’ prompts inquiries into concepts of culture being created, cultures of creativity, cultures evolving and changing, and also cultures of creative work and play.

Culture evokes ideas about its conflicting and disputed foundations, and culture as a medium through which social, political, spatial, and historical meanings are communicated and understood. The theme of this conference invites explorations of power relations, gender, subjectivity, the spatial, technology and contemporary media.

Abstract submissions for presentations and pre-formed panels are invited on themes in cultural and/or media studies, such as:

Power and cultural politics

Identity and representation

Media and mediation

Digital cultures, new media, and media futures

Cultures and change

Popular culture

Contested and counter cultures

Art and artistic practice

Cultural labour and industries

Territorial and spatial cultures

Globalisation and transnational cultures

Cultural and media research methodologies

Please submit 300 word abstracts, or proposals for creative presentation formats, and a maximum 100-word biography to cmci-conference@kcl.ac.uk by the 28th of March. Decisions on submissions will be sent by the 17th of April.

For any queries contact: Jeremy Matthew (jeremy.matthew@kcl.ac.uk) or Photini Vrikki (photini.vrikki@kcl.ac.uk)


Cultural and academic ‘value’ – Toby Bennett

Last night saw the launch of Dave O’Brien’s book ‘Cultural Policy: Management, Value and Modernity in the Creative Industries’, the thrust of which is outlined in his recent Guardian article, Is ‘creativity’ arts policy’s big mistake?

A doubly contentious idea, the word ‘value’ is as slippery as ’culture’, potentially signifying everything and nothing – and certainly carrying different weight depending on the world in which you’re operating, whether that be the university, industry, politics, or creative practice. Most provocative, for me, was O’Brien’s suggestion that the questions brought into view by cultural policy cut to the very heart of what it means to be modern. In response, the event had Kate Oakley, Andy Pratt and Geoffrey Crossick discussing their own experiences at navigating those tricky waters with varying degrees of success.

A consensus emerged which was founded on a will to move beyond the ‘old and tired dichotomies’ of aesthetic value and economic value, and perhaps use value and exchange value, which forever trouble those working in the creative industries – something at the heart of the current AHRC project headed by Geoff Crossick. But it is not just culture that repeats such dichotomies; from this, perhaps, unusual starting point was launched an impassioned defence of the sanctity of research.

Prompted by concerned questions from audience-members representing various cultural and third sector institutions, the panellists avowed their commitment to translating research into plain speaking and bridging the worlds of industry and practice with that of the university. But, crucially, the ‘value’ of research in and for itself was stressed, each panellist distancing themselves in their own way from a purely instrumental use of academic insight.

The ivory tower was defended, partly because, as Kate Oakley observed, ‘not everyone in society wants to be engaged all of the time’ – but mostly because detachment is a necessary predicate for producing policy work that that does not merely serve the needs of ideological dogma. In professor Pratt’s succinct words, ‘what kind of citizens do you want your society to produce?’: for academics, artists, workers and consumers alike, this would seem to be the most urgent question of what it means to be modern.