Hitting the road for the Faroe Islands
With local authorities, governments and commercial sponsors everywhere questioning the value of culture and cutting budgets around those of us that make it we've seen some good press today. The Manchester Evening News are reporting that over the summer Manchester retailers in the city have experienced a healthy 7.2% growth over the summer months on last year, stating:
A strong events calendar, which included the Manchester Day Parade in June, the Manchester International Festival in July and Dig The City and Manchester Pride in August, are all believed to have contributed to the rise in footfall in the city and ultimately increased basket spend.
The immediate economic impact of arts isn't always easy to quantify (the social impact even harder) and its a task normally left to established voices in the sector to make, so it's good to see a mainstream press outlet directly recognising the crucial importance of a thriving cultural sector on the well-being of the more commercially driven city.
We're proud of the fact that by working with CityCo we were able to both satisfy their remit to improve the city centre for their members and the public while simultaneously bringing high quality monumental artwork to a public that may well never have seen it if tucked away inside a gallery. It's also nice that the paper used our sculptures with Jason Hackenwerth and the Heart of Manchester BID as their featured image.
In October 2011 I was lucky enough to be taken to Istanbul by the British Council as part of their CLI programme. From over 180 applications seven of us from the UK were taken to Turkey with the aim "to engage the new generation of cultural leaders around the world in the discussion and development of common strategies to tackle global cultural issues".
The seven of us taken from the UK were Haidee Bell, Innovation Programmes Manager, Creative Economy, NESTA; Daniel Gorman, Director, Firefly International; Rohan Gunatillake, Lead Producer, Edinburgh Festivals Innovation Lab, (now Sync) ; Karena Johnson, CEO/Artistic Director, The Broadway; Laura McDermott, Joint Artistic Director, Fierce Festival; Elhum Shakerifar, Creative Producer, Postcode Films; and me.
The programme revolved around two key areas: management and leadership development. On the one hand the programme focussed on developing core cultural management skills of participants, through quite traditional seminars and workshops. However, where most people found most benefit was through the chance to get to know their peers - all emerging cultural leaders looking to develop their international exposure and experience.
Alongside my participation in the programme Curated Place also sent out a documentation crew to capture the ideas behind the events. Again we sought not simply to capture digital footage that was relevant only to people around the immediate time of the events but to interrogate the experience and knowledge of those involved in the programme - both presenters and the remarkable CLI participants.
By filming more intimate discussions with interviewees, instead of simply capturing raw footage of scripted conference presentations, we wanted to get a personal insight into the professional worlds of those in and around the CLI programme - creating a resource that would give longer term insight into what connections could be made from the programme across international arts communities rather than just those within the room. By ensuring these videos and that knowledge was available to anyone with an internet connection we aimed to dramatically increase the impact of the programme and the longevity of the investment made over the week of the programme.
Later this year as part of the programme I'll be travelling to the middle east to establish new reciprocal residency programmes for UK artists and curators to develop collaborative projects with local artists at a similar point in their career - seeking to extend their creative horizons out of the regional and national to an international programme. All of it building on the insight and relationships started by CLI in Istanbul. More on this next week...but if you're desperate to know follow us on Facebook and Twitter to hear the latest.