RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2013

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186 New frontiers of connecting communities in the creative economy (1)
Convenor(s) Saskia Warren (University of Birmingham, UK)
Phil Jones (University of Birmingham, UK)
Chair(s) Phil Jones (University of Birmingham, UK)
Timetable Thursday 29 August 2013, Session 3 (14:40 - 16:20)
Room Skempton Building, Lecture Theatre 164
Session abstract This session explores the research theme of Connected Communities, a major AHRC-led cross-Research Council programme, with address to the creative economy. The vision of the programme is to mobilize the potential for increasingly “inter-connected, culturally diverse communities to enhance participation, prosperity, sustainability, health and well-being by better connecting research, stakeholders and communities” (AHRC 2012). There is little research, however, on how geographers would conceptualize the theme of connected communities in the creative economy. Of particular interest to the session is work on the creative economy that engages with policy-making, inequalities and/or ‘hard to reach’ communities.

Policy associated with the ‘Big Society’ (Cameron 2010), with emphasis on localized and distributed forms of governance alongside reductions on public spending, is transforming the role of the state and cultural organizations. Contradictions of increased expectation placed on community-driven initiatives and a climate of major cuts to public services need to be addressed to understand the future of participation in the creative economy. It is also clear organizations that are not usually associated with the creative industries are employing creative practices to connect with new individuals and groups. Research on forms of cultural intermediation (Bourdieu 1979) in the creative economy has shown recently that activities are usually multi-level and networked, involving individuals, communities, institutions, agencies and local/national government (Woo 2012; Baker 2012; Wright 2005). This broadening of scope on the work of the creative economy has stimulated the provocation ‘we are all cultural intermediaries now’ (Maguire and Matthews 2012: 552).

This session will investigate theories and processes of connecting communities in the creative economy considering: its meaning; its value; the ways in which it operates today; who is included and excluded; and whether it can operate more effectively, particularly in the context of public sector funding cuts.
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2013@rgs.org
Do libraries and museums in Poland contribute to building and strengthening of local social capital?
Monika Murzyn-Kupisz (Krakow University of Economics, Poland)
Jarosław Działek (Jagiellonian University, Poland)
Cultural institutions (museums, galleries, libraries) are recognized to be key elements of cultural industries and creative economy. D. Throsby (2008) places them in the core of creative industries as agents that enable diffusion of ideas and inspirations from artists to other cultural and related industries such as publishing, traditional and new electronic media, design, fashion, architecture and advertising. In our paper we explore a less direct path of influence of libraries and museums on the creative economy via their impact on creating and enhancing social capital. We do not analyze linkages created among artists and other professionals, but rather strong and weak ties and social trust created within members of local communities where these institutions are located. This kind of social capital is often recognized (despite some critical voices) as a factor stimulating economic development, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovativeness, as well as increasing quality of life (BetterTogether…, 2001; Westlund, Adam, 2010). The paper discusses the potential role of libraries and museums as “social capital infrastructure” (Warner, 2001). Four dimensions of analysis were chosen to encompass possible impact on social capital (Murzyn-Kupisz, Działek, 2013), that is cultural institutions as:

- places of encounters and community hubs,
- places of social integration and inclusion (Sandell, 1998, 2002),
- sources of identity and local pride,
- sites of cooperation with NGOs and volunteers.

The existing scholarship on libraries, museums and their community functions has tended to draw conclusions from case studies based in the Western, Northern or Southern European context. Aiming to broaden the discussion to include the so far missing perspective of Central and Eastern Europe, the article draws conclusions from a comprehensive study conducted by the authors in museums and libraries in Małopolska region in Southern Poland in the first quarter of 2013.
Shaping community? Making art instrumental in Bristol
Lizzie Richardson (Durham University, UK)
This paper focuses on ACTA, a small but established community arts organisation in Bristol to argue that the creative economy often works to separate and destabilise ‘communities’, rather than connecting them. ACTA link the creative economy and community both by providing employment for ‘creatives’ and through a range of voluntary and arts-led opportunities to improve well-being in Bristol. Operating for over 25 years, the organisation has worked through several changes in government and the associated alterations in funding priorities. ACTA’s basic ethos is that ‘expressing your creativity is good for you’. They provide opportunities to do this for those without access to existing arts infrastructures in the city. Drawing on examples of several ACTA projects, this paper shows how the practice of the organisation benefits those involved but also enacts ambiguous shapings of community. On the one hand, deliberate acts of defining community required for project funding create a separation. Criteria such as age and race are used to categorise and shape communities as ‘hard to reach’. Yet, the lives of those involved suggest that such ‘communities’ are neither coherent nor bounded. On the other hand, ACTA unintentionally (re)produce the nebulous group of creative labourers. The provision of employment for freelance arts practioners on a short-term, project-by project basis, sustains the indeterminate position of such creative labourers as a community bounded by precarity. Therefore, community emerges uncertainly through ACTA’s work as both a reified form of categorical connection and a collection of bonds based on a shared lack of foundations. The paper concludes by arguing that whilst ‘culture’ may be understood as the meaning and matter of community, ACTA’s case demonstrates the necessity to continue to examine what sorts of cultural positionings and relations are produced and bound up through the creative economy.
Artists at the cutting edge of cultural intervention: a policy pilot by Birmingham City Council
Ginnie Wollaston (Birmingham City Council, UK)
Roxie Collins (Birmingham City Council, UK)
Birmingham has been hit hard by Government funding cuts to local Authorities. During 2012 -14 Birmingham is developing a more effective and efficient Community based budgeting approach to the provision of local services. This is engaging local residents, artists and cultural activists in its re-design. Whilst Birmingham has great expertise in participatory and community led arts we will be testing whether art can create the conditions for change in people’s lives; whether art can transform and contribute to public health and well-being and make a difference to local areas, parks, schools. The pilot will test how arts and culture can provide leadership in the community and encourage local residents to find their own solutions in new and unusual ways; allowing a different perspective to emerge in socially and economically challenging situations.

Birmingham City Council Culture Commissioning Service and Arts Council England (West Midlands) are managing three cultural pilots alongside the community based budget pilots to test different approaches to cultural intervention and mediation to engage with these communities. Shard End, Castle Vale, and Balsall Heath are the three areas selected and each has focused on specific priorities (families with complex needs; high unemployment; public health and environmental issues). This paper will seek to unpick the creative agent provocateur role of the artist and to analyse the creative, communication and social skills required to become effective intermediaries in communities that are socially and economically challenged.
Cross Intermediation? Cultural intervention, innovation and policy across the EU
Paul Long (Birmingham City University, UK)
Steve Harding (Birmingham City University, UK)
‘By the term cross innovation we understand a process by which creative industries share information, collaborate and work with other growth sectors to promote new thinking.’

Cross Innovation (www.cross-innovation.eu) is an Interreg-funded project that promotes policies and support measures that enable cross innovation and creative spillovers between creative sectors and other industries. The project is founded on a partnership consisting of 11 metropolitan centres across Europe: Birmingham, Amsterdam, Rome, Berlin, Tallinn, Warsaw, Vilnius, Stockholm, Linz, Lisbon, and Pilsen. The partnership promotes a participative programme of experience exchange events, including “cross innovation policy clinics” designed to inform local policies, supporting creative markets and cultural life.

The project focuses on practices in four sub-themes: Smart Incentives – innovative types of finance that enable cross-innovation; Culture-based Innovation – schemes that introducing artistic and creative practices in to other sectors; Brokerage – services that build bridges between sectors and Spatial Cross-Collaboration – services offered to companies in co-working spaces, incubators, fab-labs, science parks and to local clusters.

This paper examines the Cross Innovation project through the prism of ‘Cultural Intermediation’, exploring the meanings of collaboration and cultural intervention across Europe and the agents involved. What are the dynamics of public and private partnerships in these projects? What is the relationship between the dynamics, opportunities and limits of local culture, geography and organization for cross innovation ideas and dialogue? In what terms can any one local practice be translated into wider activity? What insights can Cross Innovation offer to current studies of the lineaments and challenges of cultural work and policy?
Humans, Holodecks and Heritage: A New Perspective on Interactive Technologies to Support Healthcare in Society
Robert J. Stone (University of Birmingham, UK)
The power of technology in delivering revolutionary interactive systems to the healthcare and cultural heritage sectors is unquestionable. At least two decades of scientific research and development have shown how creative media and associated technologies such as Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR, AR; to mention but two examples) can revolutionise the cognitive and skills-based performances of healthcare and heritage practitioners - from interpretation and diagnosis to intervention, prevention and repair. Of course, individually, these sectors are still dependent on continued evolutionary research, particularly in the human-centred definition and design of appropriate interactive content and interface technologies (to avoid technology push and ensure maximum impact on, and uptake by a range of end users and communities). However, more recently, early studies at Birmingham have demonstrated a hitherto unexplored link between the two sectors – a link that may offer significant potential to a much wider and more diverse population of end users and communities. Birmingham’s Humans, Holodecks and Heritage project is based on the premise that innovative VR and AR reconstructions of real-world areas of natural beauty, originally developed for restorative and rehabilitative processes for hospitalised patients, can be further developed by integrating virtual heritage artefacts, sites and actors in order to encourage people from all walks of life to undertake healthy outdoor pursuits. Specifically, this is based on the idea that members of diverse communities can be inspired and motivated to venture out and explore the (real) natural world by endowing that real world with rich, discoverable, virtual cultural and historical artefacts, made accessible using appropriately-fielded VR and AR technologies. A secondary premise is that such digital environments, when presented to individuals and groups using appropriate interactive formats at appropriate venues (real-world or online), will also encourage cross-generation and cross-community engagement and, thus, help to uncover information, assets and narratives that would have otherwise been lost to future beneficiaries. This paper will explore the early results of the Birmingham research, with specific focus on three exploratory mini-projects, two based in rural Devon, the third addressing maritime heritage.