Category Archives: networks

#10wos 02: All the colours (30 June to 6 July 2014)

David and Liedewei in Breda10 weeks of summer continued with a trip to Breda in the Netherlands, I think this was my fourth trip and I’ve blogged about some of the others before. As you can see from the image of Liedewei and me they were all out for the Dutch World Cup effort at the time. I’m writing this post on the day of the third place playoff, featuring the Netherlands and Brazil: for many people this is always their high point of the whole tournament. Really. I’m sure.

Also featured: they got me riding a bike through Breda. Very odd… an upright position, one gear, no brakes (you gently pedal backwards to slow down) and we were on the right (thus incorrect) side of the road skipping between bike lanes and city streets. Highly recommended.

As in 2013 I was given the chance to head out to Breda, via Schiphol, to help with the end-of-degree interviews that their International Leisure Management students go through to finish their four year programmes of study at NHTV. The students deliver a ten minute presentation, then sit through 30-40 minutes of questions before we the interview panel decide upon a grade and congratulate them on completing their studies. It’s a very rewarding experience. Some of the key things I took away from the 2014 experience were…

  • The interview brings together some really interesting elements and it’s hardly revolutionary in its content. Students are asked to reflect upon their thesis and their time at university, to deliver a vision of sorts for their industry (on a theme of their choosing), and to comment on how their studies have set them up for the future.
  • While it has elements of interview, that’s not really doing it justice. The presentations tended to use Prezi, with some incorporating video that they had made themselves. The questions and answers often became more of a conversation with different contributors putting forward their own perspectives on particular topics.
  • Those topics varied widely, from co-creation of experiences to uses of technology and the sharing economy. Perhaps unsurprisingly there was some idealism in the ambitions of the students, but what’s the point of a vision without ambition?
  • I was also keen to ask the students about their experiences of a ‘competency‘ based education process – where they develop a series of competencies during their time at Breda. This approach sees them cover areas such as internationalisation and imagineering at different stages of the degree. It is partly intended to help them show potential future employers that they have the skills and experience to fulfil the requirements of vacancies that they would like to fill. The students generally found that some points of the course were stronger than others in delivering on this, with the later years cited by some as particularly effective in competency development. As a way to thread the programme together I can see that it has great potential as an underpinning of the students’ experiences and I’m glad I’ve been exposed to it in recent years.
  • The last thing to pick up on is the international elements of the programme, by name and by nature. The students travel regularly, picking up credits and experience from a wide range of destinations, organisations and projects.

Breda really is a lovely place. If I was better organised perhaps I would have spent more time out there, but I’ll be back one way or another.

The trip to Breda left just enough time for Edinburgh Napier’s graduation ceremony. There are some reflections here to ponder, but suffice it to say that the university does a good graduation. From the glorious Usher Hall to the relaxed and well supplied reception back at Craiglockhart it’s a good day out. I recommend it.

Then on Sunday I learnt a new piece of software which helped my draw some pretty social network analysis graphs. But more of that in the next #10wos.

Colours: Breda: orange; graduation: black, red, white, greenish; social network analysis: lots!

BUICE: International Conference on Events and AEME forum, Bournemouth University, July 2013

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For three days in the hot July sun of Bournemouth event studies researchers, academics and industry professionals gathered for a broad and diverse mix of presentations, discussions and the occasional trip to the beach. You can read up on the BU conference coverage here (featuring a rapt audience listening to yours truly!), with further resources available via the conference Twitter feed. Many of the talks are on YouTube.

I’m going to publish four posts from the event, with three taken directly from the notes that I took during each day’s keynote talks and discussions (one, two, three). This post here is based around notes taken from some of the break out sessions and papers presented by participants and delegates. This one is also special because it features a photo of the beach and some blue south coast water.

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Day one papers

Nigel Williams (Bournemouth University)

Nigel spoke on ‘3D Events’ and the role of social media. Much of his research is based on using social media data, which is cheaper and a way to show evidence of meeting event objectives. Social capital themes are present in his work, based around SNA analysis of maps, nodes, connectors and so on. Chosen focal festival was #LoveLuton, which had brought together existing and new events to create a new festival. Twitter was the chosen social medium, being the ‘most democratic’ and the assumed public nature of all open tweets – it was all therefore deemed to be available for use. Data was captured using Tweet Archivist and visualised using NodeXL. It enabled groups to be found and conclusions to be reached in relation to the festival’s stated goals. For the future it was felt that more tweets are including geographical data, enabling more complex analysis. In the Q and A ethics was discussed in relation to using these data; hashtags are apparently in decline; it is difficult to extract the ’signal from the noise’.

 

Katja Pasanan (University of East Finland)

Katja also looked at social media, specifically the ways in which it is used by festival managers in their new service development efforts. Social media enables customers to have a role in this NSD process, accelerating the process through engagement. Few festivals were seen to have a strategy however and marketing was their main use for s/m, rather that development work. Facebook is the most commonly used platform, but very little on Trip Advisor despite its importance to the tourism market.

 

Matt Frew (Bournemouth University)

Matt looked at Burning Man. We’re all going to burn…

 

Day two papers

Jenny Flinn (Glasgow Caledonian University)

Jenny looked at the Exit Festival and its role in re-imaging Novi Sad in Serbia. The research data came from press articles written about the festival since the 1990s, tracking its connection to images of Serbia and the Balkans in that time. As the country has opened up and perceptions have changed the festival has become more mainstream and no longer positions itself as a protest movement to the same extent. Coverage of the festival is also shifting, looking less at its past and more towards its future. In the UK press Exit is often presented as a cheaper and warmer alternative to British festivals.

 

Matt Frew (Bournemouth University)

Matt demonstrated the importance and validity of linking events research with well established theoretical works, such as Zizek, Bourdieu and many others that regularly feature in his work. The importance of technology – both to teaching and in our experiences of the world around us – was explored with great passion. A ‘hyper-experiential’ reality, going beyond Pine and Gilmour.

 

Raphaela Stadtler (Griffith University, Brisbane)

In her work Raphaela spoke about knowledge transfers within festival organisations, both formal and informal. Questions of how do you manage knowledge within such organisations, creating know-how and integrating documents, staff meetings, informal meetings and so on. This is the culmination of her PhD work, based on ethnographic data accumulated through time spent working for the Queensland Jazz Festival: the lived experience of a festival volunteer. As such she has been seeking to ‘make visible’ the standard practices engaged in by staff.

 

Day three papers

Robert Kielty (Glasgow Caledonian University)

Robert fronted a presentation that had been developed between a number of people, including Jenny Flinn. At its core is a story of the professionalisation of rugby union and the shifts in power, policy and politics that have accompanied it. The power of the ‘top eight’ nations is clear to see, leading to discussions about ‘scalar relations’ between the core and the periphery. Economically there is much to be said about the ways these top nations are seeking to keep the profits from the Rugby World Cup between themselves, so it will be interesting to see what happens with the upcoming Japanese RWC. Are they doing enough to keep the game visible after the Cup has been and gone?

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For my own part I presented on the theme of social networks at cultural festivals. A PDF of the slides follows…

 

ICE2013 JARMAN Presentation PDF by davidjarman

Culturing our Creativity: Edinburgh, 17 June 2013

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Back in June 2013, some six weeks ago, I attended a one day conference for the creative industries, held at the lovingly restored Assembly Rooms on George Street, Edinburgh. This same venue is currently at the heart of a transformation to get it ready for the Fringe, which will also see most of the street closed off to traffic and given over to al fresco hedonism. We await the results of the bacchanalian town planning revolution.

My notes from the conference are brief but hopefully give a flavour of the themes being discussed on the day. The event was produced by AmbITion Scotland, among others, and further details are available from them just here.

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Eleonora Belfiore (University of Warwick) opened the day to discuss ‘Reframing Cultural Value’. She hosts a blog with resources on ‘the #culturalvalue initiative’. Among the points made were that ‘cultural value’ is at the heart of policy decisions relating to the cultural sector, but that the debate was based on market logic. This logic now permeates a ‘marketing society’, seeping into previously market-free areas of policy and activity. This has introduced new characteristics to relationships between stakeholders, the public sector and so on. It also throws up issues of market failure, but in a social sense rather than economy. She cited FS Michaels as an exponent of the idea that an economic narrative is now dominant, with value established a measure of return on investment.

Belfiore commented that this has seen something of a de-politicisation of the value debates relating to the arts: arguments are not being made on the basis of intrinsic values, but rather technical questions related to ‘impacts’. This puts the arts and cultural sectors into the invidious position of attempting to argue their case in economic terms, but they fail to fully engage because their passion is elsewhere and ultimately they don’t really ‘understand’ the nature of the discussion. It’s a charade and audiences and agencies recognise this as well.

How then to reframe the arguments away from economics: It is necessary to ask and establish where the value lies for the wider public, how do they perceive and appreciate the arts? To also ask where in the arts ecosystem cuts can best be made, while maintaining the key elements of that system? To also ask what the arts are for, and ultimately who gets to decide? This is a strategic discussion calling for strategic vision, thinking further ahead. Fiona Hyslop’s speech has served to create a space in which we might have such a debate, to enable difficult questions to be asked and to show that Scotland is taking the debate into new areas compared to the rest of the UK.

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The Art of Living Dangerously’ was introduced, a project being conducted within Scottish Higher Education and a report due for publication later in 2013. Among its themes are: risk, collaborations, spaces, sustainability, planning and power. Among the international comparisons being made is Denmark where a welfare system exists that supports artists, without stigma, incentivising work that can be toured. Policy ideas being suggested for the UK include a voucher system that could see venues and organisations competing for artists: the intention is to see a degree of power shifting to the artists as they then bring the money with them.

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Ben Cameron spoke, bringing a strong New York accent to proceedings. He advocated the importance of having a clear strategic underpinning to creative industries organisations: a vision (on which such organisations tend to be quite clear); a mission (less clarity here); values (this is an area where organisations have a choice). He called for a form of ‘arts reformation’.

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Bob Last discussed the concept of the ‘creative industries’ as a legacy of Chris Smith’s time in office during Tony Blair’s years. Part of a neoliberal project perhaps? The terminology enabled the merging of more art forms into a ‘one size fits all’ solution as far as policy makers are concerned, also leading to an ‘uncreative’ wasteland? In an era that demands evidence-based analysis, what happens when you are unable to produce the sort of clear-cut answers and evidence that is more readily available to others: the arts produce emotional outputs, rather than the clearer data associated with (e.g.) medical science.

Last proposed that the debate be framed around ‘intent’ rather than outputs. He also put forward the notion of ‘collective capital’ as something that the broader industry can invest into, if a way can be found to value it.

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Hannah Rudman, of AmbITion Scotland and Envirodigital, introduced an explicitly ecological thread to the day. Her resources are available here: http://www.delicious.com/hanrudman/culturing The environmental theme was linked to broader questions of justice, civil liberties, equality and so on. As such it was argued that although the creative industries may bear only a small responsibility for today’s environmental problems they can play a larger part in their solutions. Social media plays its part here too, enabling the social network to become visible around events, festivals, cultural organisations and so on – individuals are thus enabled, engaged, given agency and able to help establish norms for their communities. As a result practical steps such as car sharing and other sustainable practices gain a foothold. Rudman also advocated that artists engage with scientists in order to tell stories.

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Questions to finish the day

A round of questions to a mixed panel finished off the day. Points to emerge included the idea that ‘everything’s now in play’ when it comes to funding: Kickstarter, etc. Such tools can also act as ways to encourage engagement with your work, for some they are a way in to particular arts-based professions. When it comes to public funding the point was made that organisations and individuals need to show that they can make work independently first – the public sector needs to have confidence that it is investing with some chance of success. It was felt that although artists have little problem arguing their case for what they bring to society the policy makers and funders are less clear on such points. Finally, the theme of ‘audience engagement’ was reframed as ‘who do we need to attend in order to make this event kick off?’ – a more targeted approach with rewards that benefit the event as much as the ‘desired’ audience.

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Image: ‘Ceiling features, the Music Hall’  |  flickr.com/photos/bethmoon527/8019233869/