2014-11-10

Authors

Rebecca Baasch
holds a B.A. in cultural studies and political sciences and an M.A. in International Arts Management. She has been an advertising executive, founded a cultural association and worked at the Institute for Cultural Studies in Essen, Germany.
Svenja Reiner
holds B.A. in English and economics and an M.A. in International Art Management. She founded a music festival, conducted a cultural association, organized a jazz session and works at cultural capital consulting and as a freelance photographer.
Report ICCPR 2014

Establishing an international cultural policy network

The cultural management students Rebecca Baasch and Svenja Reiner attended for us the International Conference on Cultural Policy Research (ICCPR), which took place in Hildesheim, Germany from 9th to 12th September. In this article they describe their impressions as upcoming managers.
Hildesheim is a tranquil spot in northern Germany with approximately 100,000 inhabitants and two sacred buildings that have been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Here the 2014 ICCPR took place. For the two of us it was the first time weve ever participated in a research congress. Not sure what awaits us, we use the train trip to work through the 160-page conference booklet. We are impressed by the diversity of the program but are also bowled over by it. Its almost impossible to attend all of the interesting themes on the first day alone.

During the three days of the conference the participants were offered a total of approximately 200 papers. The range of themes gathered under the label of cultural policy is overwhelming: while the role of culture in conflict regions is being discussed in one room, another lecture is being held next door about Afghan theater on European stages. The effects of the European culture capitals are just as much on the agenda of the conference as are the conditions of artistic training or the question of who actually defines the cultural past.

Cultural policy arises in each university curriculum for every field of study having to do something with cultural studies. However, cultural policy research conists of so many fields that it can fill a 160-page conference reader. 453 People from 55 countries presented 193 papers on cultural policy. The chance that cultural policy is boring is rather low.

The conference started with an official opening ceremony in the Theater for Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony). The program was conceived by an artistic director and, after the usual opening words, there was a small light show and a theatrical presentation by the teams organizers. The atmosphere was casual and bringing the 400 participants from 60 countries easily into conversation.

For the first point on the program there wer ten papers and three thematic sessions to choose from. We begin with the theme of Globalized Cultural Policy. The three themes of this session could not be more different. The spectrum of the lectures ranges from the influence of globalization and the playing filed of cultural policy for national cultures to the transnational funding of culture through donations and with it the urgency of tax relief up to the negative effects of artistic mobility on the life and work of independent artists. The discussants pose relevant questions to the experts, and the plenum tries to get to the bottom of one or the other theory. In the break that follows we talk about the recent impact of the Easy Jet factor (travel is cheaper than ever) and discuss the question of how national art can be.

For the next point in the program we visited the session chaired by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schneider, the Director of the Institute for Cultural Policy Hildesheim. In the comparison between Germany, Africa and the Arab region it becomes clear that the German model of an active cultural state cannot be transferred over to other countries. In Africa and in the Arab region the state has a different role; there are other political actors and the research of the theme of cultural policy is still in its infancy. Schneider is conducting research in this field. He holds the UNESCO Chair for Cultural Policy for the Arts in Development and studies among other things the cultural political conditions in Africa as well as the influence of cultural policy and artists on governments and political transformation processes.

Cultural policy has many fields; a large one is the training and support of artists. The questions that are discussed include: Who becomes an artist? How are artists trained and which implicit assumptions are set in their training? What happens after graduation? And above all: who doesnt become an artist? Karoi Takahashi, a doctoral candidate of sociology, has spent time with female amateur actors in Tokyo and searched for reasons why they are mostly amateur actors who dont have the appropriate training. In Hildesheim, she presented the example of two biographies of young actresses to determine the fundamental problems of artistic support. Both had abandoned their prospective careers after leaving school because they feared that they would be able to support themselves from their income alone. Particularly in an ambitious society such as Japan this form of income generation has a particularly bad reputation. Takahashi's study shows, moreover, that female actresses are paid less than their male counterparts. In addition comes the fact that most of the public subsidies support production costs - but not living costs. Overall, the working conditions for actors in Japan are very precarious. It is concrete field research such as this that investigates why someone, despite talent, would never become a professional artist. Apparently, only to a certain social group of people become actors: those who can afford it. Cultural policy has to ask itself whether being an artist should be an upper class privilege or whether more has to be done to dismantle the financial inhibitionss.

How do social and political changes change society and its artists? Simone Wesener presented her findings on the influence of cultural identity and values on cultural policy, especially in terms of artistic professionalization. The head of the Arts Policy and Management Masters Program in Birkbeck (University of London) examines identity, motivations, and career development of East German artists who witnessed the German reunification: in comparison to younger artists they often view the art market critically and see themselves bound primarily their own artistic commitment to quality. They regard a person as successful when they have had a long career and staying power. Gaining recognition by the art world after ones death is a valid option so that many artists actively create an archive of their works during their lifetime, going so far as to buy back works and sometimes destroying works that were created in the GDR years.

Wesener wants to use her identity research to develop a functioning framework for cultural-political work: She points out that the instruments of cultural policy have so far not promoted the development of careers for artists and suggests taking into consideration the different artistic identities in the development of funding.

In his lecture Fringe to Famous- Contemporary Australian Culture as an Innovation System, Mark Gibson showed that artists dont only have to be succored and funded, but instead that one can learn something from them as well. Gibson is the coordinator of the Master's Program in Communications and Media Sciences at Monash University in Melbourne and directs the film, media and communications program. Together with his partners Tony Moore and Chris McAuliffe, he examines how "fringe" projects like avant-garde art, indie, and alternative culture have become a part of the Australian mainstream culture.
Gibson and his team claim that they are sympathetic to commercial culture and do not assume that financial success is synonymous with putting values on the line. However, the researchers have the task of critically reviewing cultural quality, rather than just implicitly accepting it.

Both in terms of content and in organization, we experienced a conference that was perfectly presented and we were enthusiastic about the informal atmosphere, the many young scholars, and the variety of themes. At the end of ICCPR 2014 it was clear that international dialogue is above all essential in widening perspectives and finding new approaches. The next International Congress on Cultural Policy Research is being held for the first time in Asia at the Sookumyung Women's University in Seoul, South Korea, in 2016.

You can find a comprehensive German review of the congress in the October 2014 issue of our German Kultur Management Network Magazin.