Kunst als economische aandrijver

Nieuws | de redactie
23 augustus 2010 | De creatieve en culturele industrie is een van de krachtigste innovatoren in Europa. Wat kan het HO, en in het bijzonder het kunstonderwijs, doen om die rol nog meer tot bloei te brengen? De kunstscholen geven ‘Brussel’ nu aan wat en hoe. “Being good at Photoshop or Illustrator does not mean you are also a good designer.”

De koepel van de Europese kunsthogescholen, ELIA, reageert ophet Green Paper  ‘Unlocking the potential of cultural andcreative industries’, dat de discussie en het beleid op Europeesniveau een impuls moet geven.

1.           Arts graduates are main drivers for expansion and innovation ofthe CCIs.  European innovation policies in the cultural andcreative sphere should recognize and build more strongly on theemergence of a new generation of skilful artists and creativepractitioners with the capacity of tackling complex problems,providing creative solutions and original thinking.

In our view the artistic drive, skills, imagination andinventiveness of the artist forms the starting point for anyproduction or ‘value’ chain. The value of ‘creative play’ inincubating skills for innovation should not be under-estimated.

A higher investment in artistic creation as well as in creativeresearch would be beneficial for the innovation of the sector, bothtechnical and creative.  Increasingly, artists acquire a broadset of skills that are both academic and rooted in creative andartistic practices. Artists and artist-researchers build a sharedpractice with the innovative parts of the creative industries, forinstance developing user-oriented environments.

A recent conference organised by DG Enterprise and Industry’Towards a pan-European initiative in support of the creativeindustries in Europe’, recognised that R&D is changing becauseof these shared practices between artists and innovative creativeindustries and called for a ‘higher investment in research and inskills for the creative industries as a prospectus investment inour future’. Such investment should also recognise that the outcomeof experimental creativity or its application is not alwaysimmediately apparent.

2.           In ELIA’s view a European Sectoral Skills Council for theCultural and Creative Industries is an key tool to strengthen anemerging and existing skills base and to initiate new strategies toboost innovation. Education should become a key factor in such aSkills Council. If it is true – and we believe, it is – thatEurope’s prosperity increasingly builds on the input of creativityand innovation, the European Skills Council for the CCIs shoulddevelop as an essential European instrument to support excellentideas and projects with innovative potential, interdisciplinary andinter-institutional collaboration.

ELIA agrees with the Green Paper that the sector-specific needsare changing quickly and is in favour of mapping new skills asdeveloping within the sector, both quantitative and qualitative,building on new approaches already developing within the artschools and between art schools and the CCIs.  A SectoralCouncil for employment and skills for the Cultural and CreativeIndustries would be extremely useful to provide an accurate view ofthe complexity and diversity of the sectors and to developinnovative support measures.

In our view, a ’tripartite’ model in which employers, employeesand higher arts educators collaborate is the preferred wayforward.  In order to prevent a more or less static picture,already outdated before its publication, we find it important todevelop a constant monitoring as well as to focus on qualitativetrends. It should also include other ways of exploring skillsissues such as interviews / clustering with stakeholders from thesector and from education. National differences regarding thedevelopment of the creative sector and of education should not beunderestimated.

3.           We agree with the Green Paper that entrepreneurial and businessskills are important for arts graduates in a sector mainlyconsisting of small businesses and freelance professionals,although creative people may not have as their main prioritycreating wealth but creativity itself. Business skills are bestacquired as part of an integrated approach, live projects, andpartnerships with business and other societal partners and inparticular dedicated arts educators with a background inprofessional practice.

New concepts of ‘creative entrepreneurship’ such ascollaborative and non-hierarchical business models need to be givenmuch wider visibility and flexible financial support measures,comparable to microfinance,  for creative sme’s,freelance  and collaborative models of practice would be verysupportive for the sector.  Artists only need a relativelysmall investment, with great results.

Increasingly, art schools place more emphasis on fully realisingtheir responsibility in the field of business skills and employmentopportunities and they have developed different approaches over theyears. Specific courses focusing on business skills often prove notto be effective, particularly in periods where students’ focus ison acquiring their artistic skills. Practice-based learning andexperimentation, individual and collective projects, internal andexternal assignments, work placements, incubator units andpartnerships making it easier for graduates to gain the skills andexperience required to enter their chosen field of practice.

Increasingly the curriculum provides ´natural´ opportunities fortransfer of the artistic process into different contexts in whichstudents apply their learning. Findings indicate that studentscontinue to adopt this model after graduation in their portfoliocareers and arts graduates often have well-developed strategies forcoping with unstable employment conditions. A sector in which smallbusinesses and freelance professionals work in fluid, collaborativeand non-hierarchical models of practice requires the support ofdifferentiated models of employer engagement.

4.           In the Green Paper and in the CCI sector generally we miss asolid reflection on the employment situation of artists and onsupport initiatives for young artists in their early careerpaths.  Though artists are well situated to be creativeentrepreneurs the current financial crisis may lead to a ‘lostgeneration’ of artists because of the severe cuts in national andlocal budgets for education and for culture.

Under the current harsh economic conditions, graduates areconfronted even more with the difficulty of finding fulfilling,creative work, even though arts students are devising alternativeapproaches to gaining vital work experience and using theircreative practice in new ways that benefit the community as well astheir own career goals. A recent UK longitudinal study , involvinggraduates in design, craft and media up to six years aftergraduation, showed that 3 out of 4 graduates worked in their fieldof expertise since graduating; 4 out of 5 graduates were in paidwork, the majority in creative jobs achieving their careergoals.

Compared with ten years ago a larger proportion of artsgraduates work in their field of expertise and in the creative andcultural sector. This is in itself consistent with the recent andgradual growth of the cultural and creative sector and is anindication that arts graduates continue to contribute substantiallyto the creative economy.  Across Europe, these relativelypositive figures show a downwards trend and it should be a majorconcern that so many graduates do not find their way into thesector. In addition, artistic professionals are being paid lessthan other professional with a similar educational background,except for the ´stars´, which is a position most artists neverreach.

Even though arts graduates have their own strategies for copingwith unstable employment conditions, differentiated models forsupport, for instance similar to microfinance, would be supportivein a sector in which small businesses and freelance professionalswork in fluid, collaborative and non-hierarchical models ofpractice. More national longitudinal data and comparison is neededto accurately assess the situation. This maybe also present anappropriate subject for the member states to compare nationalapproaches, and find common solutions since national policies varyconsiderably.

5.           Creative innovation and an expanding cultural and creativesector in Europe need independent and strong higher arts educationinstitutes. Rather than seeing higher arts education purely as anenabler for the cultural and creative sector, as the Green Papersuggests, ELIA and its member schools value broadly based higherarts education with room for experimentation.  Art schools area key factor in innovation and the development and maintenance ofvibrant cultures and in Europe.

Artistic talent needs nurturing and training and the art schoolsin Europe perform this function with high quality standards,passion, rigor, excellence, often on a world-class level. In citiesand regions where arts institutions are located, art schools andart students perform a lively cultural role. Arts education formsan integral part of the European knowledge  society. Neverbefore was arts education so attractive, both to European futureartists and to talented young artists from other continents.

The Bologna Process, now largely implemented in higher artseducation, brought about more transparency, mobility, and newspecializations in the Master’s phase, often with a focus on newprofessional practices.  Increasingly, research and 3rd cycleeducation in the artistic and creative domain, sometimes ininteraction with other sciences and practices add new dimensions tothe qualifications of artists. It is important to recognise andsecure the independence of higher arts education as the seedbed forcreative innovation.

6.           The art schools consider IT skills crucially important but froman educational point of view, they remain a means to an end.Technology and creativity reinforce each other and the rightcombination of skills is essential. ELIA would welcome specificnational and/or European opportunities that allow higher artseducation and other innovative institutions to develop high-levelprogrammes in arts education-technology partnerships preparingstudents even better for user-friendly technology environments,provided the specificity of the artist’s approach isrespected.

Most art schools are fully aware that mediatised andpredominantly digital environments demand new and complex skillsrequirements from artists. As a result, art schools aim to investin qualified staff, equipment, additional capacities, and developnew approaches to realise a strong emphasis on IT skillsprovision.

But original creative content, ways of thinking and generatingideas comes first and this remains the case even in stronglyinformation technology driven fields as games development anddesign. Being good at Photoshop or Illustrator does not mean youare also a good designer. It is only fair to state that not all artschools are sufficiently equipped yet to meet current ITdemands.  New technology requests a constant investment inequipment not always possible for arts institutions in Europeancountries that are less well off economically.

7.           ELIA fully welcomes new national and European initiatives forexperimentation and innovation, incubator units and business-schoolpartnerships. These should be built on the experience of alreadyexisting partnerships, initiated either by the sector or by artschools. This form of knowledge transfer is a two-way processimpacting both the sector and education.

It is the experience of the ELIA member schools that thesecollaborations have considerable impact on all parties involved: itcreates innovative outcomes and new approaches in business as wellas in education, it develops knowledge transfer and it changesmethods of teaching and learning in art schools. Partnershipschallenge art schools, as well as the other partners to think alongnew lines and to become flexible enough to conduct a processtogether. Current connections between art schools and society rangefrom large companies to micro enterprises, from museums andtheatres to schools, hospitals and prisons. Many partnershipsinclude local authorities as well as civil society.

In partnerships students gain necessary skills, such asnetworking, communication, planning and dealing withdeadlines. In doing so, students learn to develop their ownspecialisms and often start their own businesses. Increasingly artschools realise research and innovation in creative partnershipwith external agents, including PHD research. It is particularlyimportant that next to Art & Design, disciplines such asTheatre and Dance, and Music also get the opportunity to form partof such a programme. Some examples of Business – Schoolpartnerships, initiated by the art schools, or set up incollaboration with partners from other domains are attached as anappendix to this document.

8.           The Green Paper does not sufficiently distinguish between’artistic/creative’ profiles and other professional profiles in thecreative domain, which are not predominantly artistic. ELIArecommends that the diversity of professional profiles across theCCIs is taken into account, as part of a better understanding ofcurrent and new needs.

It is our experience that as the CCI sector further develops theneed for qualified people becomes more diverse as well as morespecific. Examples of these types of professionals include forinstance media professionals, cultural managers, cross-disciplinarycurators, technicians in different fields and eventorganizers/managers.

In some areas specialized professional education is alreadydeveloping, provided either by art schools or by other educationalinstitutions. New ways of working with art or artistic methods, forinstance in social domains, creates new specialisms that need to betaken into account in education.

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