Saturday, June 28, 2008

Forum Skopje
„A Soul for Europe”
Vom 4. bis 6. April 2008 trafen Akteure aus Kultur, Wirtschaft und Zivilgesellschaft mit Vertretern aus der Politik in der Crystal Hall des mazedonischen Parlaments zusammen.

ThemenNeue Formen der Kooperation zwischen Politik und ZivilgesellschaftKultur als Motor für die Entwicklung EuropasEuropäische Verantwortung und Herausforderungen für lokale und regionale AkteureKulturelle Vielfalt und soziale Kohäsion in Südosteuropa - Trends und PolitikenZu den Teilnehmern gehörten Mitglieder des Europäischen und des Mazedonischen Parlaments, darunter Doris Pack und Jelko Kacin, Vertreter der Europäischen Kommission, der Präsident des mazedonischen Parlaments, Ljubisa Georgievski, die Staatssekretärin für Kultur Elisabeta Kancevska Milevska, Mitglieder des Mazedonischen Parlaments, darunter Flora Kadriu und Vasko Shutarov, die Schauspielerin Labina Mitevska, der Koordinator des Stabilitätspakts für Südosteuropa Erhard Busek und dessen Direktorin Marijana Grandits, sowie zahlreiche zivilgesellschaftliche Akteure aus ganz Europa.


Das Forum Skopje – „A Soul for Europe“ wurde organisiert der Europäischen Bewegung Mazedonien und der zivilgesellschaftlichen Organisation Public Room Mazedonien in Zusammenarbeit mit der Initiative „Europa eine Seele geben“ und der Felix Meritis Stiftung Amsterdam.

PartnerAußenministerium der Republik Mazedonien, Kulturministerium der Republik Mazedonien, Sekretariat für europäische Angelegenheiten Mazedonien, Stadt Skopje, Post Mazedonien, Vertretung der Europäischen Kommission in Mazedonien, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Skopje, Ramkovski Foundation Skopje,, MAT, Italienische Botschaft Skopje, SECI.
refereto the website:


B2C = B2B? Business to Culture = Business to Business?
An ambiguous formula!
Adoption of culture as base for creation of new business trends;
Paving the highway Culture Business;
Added value and support cooperationMutual benefits;
Instruments to encourage people active in the cultural sector to acquire managerial and entrepreneurial skills;
Help the business world develop a consciousness for the potential of development of the cultural sector
And ambitious goals!
The relation of arts and culture to business consists of many layers. From the self-employment and solidarity in micro capitalist artists initiatives to the total hegemonic economy politics of the corporations.The formula B2C = B2B has many negotiations and conditions of interaction in each layer.The most crucial issue in the balance of this formula is to change the image problem of the arts and culture productions when viewed by most businesses.Conventionally arts and culture are either seen as the suitable decoration for the boardroom or as part of some attractive factor of a company’s corporate social responsibility agenda. They are rarely seen as a source of potentially hard edged interventions to change the way a company works, thinks and performs.
Quoting Lucrezia de Domizio Durini, in an essay written for September-October 1988 issue of the one time art magazine Contemporanea.•“…I saw the figure of Mr. X with increasing clarity: the drawn face, the satisfied expression. I saw him seated in his manager’s armchair, across from the table where he confronts the most arduous situations in such a way that they are advantageously overcome. The place behind that table represents the source of power. Every time I am forced to sit in front of him, he seems to rob me of something secret, something he covets for his own: the movement of my thoughts. •….His position was clear. Mr. X would never sit at the roundtable where for years Eric Fromm and Joseph Beuys, Jacques Lacan and Martin Luther king had seats, and where the art and culture of the twentieth century was kept alive!
I always remember this paragraph of the essay when I have to present a project to a potential sponsor, who most of the time is a manager of a multinational company.Adorno has formulated our caution towards the business men:“In our age the objective social tendency is incarnate in the hidden subjective purposes of company directors, the foremost among whom are in the most powerful sectors of industry steel, petroleum, electricity, and chemicals.”Twenty years ago the relationship between the business world and the cultural experts was much more complicated and strained than today. Even though the art movements such as Fluxus, Land Art, happenings were advocating the involvement of large public, arts and culture was still a field for the privileged and was confined into the sterile museums. For the business world arts and culture was classified into “leisure and luxury”, rather than into “market and commodity”.He was the bridge between Adorno’s highly cynical culture industry criticism and global culture industry conditions of today.
Concerning the above mentioned ambitious goals Warhol, in his book The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (1975) wrote:"Business art is the step that comes after Art. I started as a commercial artist, and I want to finish as a business artist. After I did the thing called 'art' or whatever it's called, I went into business art. I wanted to be an Art Businessman or a Business Artist. Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art."
Today, the cultural operators may not feel like Lucrezia Domizio Durini and me, when they meet business men, managers and directors of companies. Warhol’s statements and attitude bestowed them with a rose garden without thorns.They would feel highly cool and maybe overconfident; because the distribution of arts and culture products of all kinds provide a worldwide audience, the art market is the safest market and practically every industry has an arts-related product or event.The latest advertisement of Ford Focus cars is a good example; an orchestra plays with instruments made of Ford car parts.
However, the same example justifies Adorno’s statement:"Culture is a paradoxical commodity. So completely is it subject to the law of exchange that it is no longer exchanged; it is so blindly consumed in use that it can no longer be used. Therefore it amalgamates with advertising. The more meaningless the latter seems to be under a monopoly, the more omnipotent it becomes. The motives are markedly economic. One could certainly live without the culture industry; therefore it necessarily creates too much satiation and apathy."
•The potential for the art market of this century is rapidly developing not only with the ever-growing market value of the so-called “modern and post-modern masterpieces”, but also through the continuous movement of artists and art goods and networking. The creative people who are able to conceive and produce the images, create performances, sounds and music, the theoreticians who write the texts which nourish this culture and art market are human commodities that control the plexus of knowledge.
•The statistics in EU and USA show how the arts have become an essential part of their economy. Commodities that are arts related, such as painting, sculpture, photography, films, books, records, documentaries, design and computer generated images and sounds, are all major players in international markets.
•Consequently, all nations are re-adjusting or will re-form their culture industries and policies according to the requirements of this global cultural market that even determines the contents, trends and practical parameters of these products.I don’t want to sound too optimistic, but today, arts and culture products determine the success in the global economic competition and necessitate communication and information exchange that can exploit the boundaries between the economical, political, religious and ethnic polarities of the world. The sustainability and economic value of arts and culture products display a significant guideline for democratic processes. The only obstacle in front of this positive exploitation seems to be the religious dogmas and various fundamentalisms.Even if the culture industry represents a very important part of the global economy, in the region I am coming from this is not yet an achievement that can gratify a real transformation, despite some remarkable developments in re-forming the state controlled cultural infrastructures and establishing private ones, in promoting arts and culture towards an international recognition and in investing into the creative individual.Even if the Dubai Art Fair (19-22 March) has organized a highly intensive forum with established dissident artists from the Western world (such as Lawrence Weiner, Daniel Buren)The topic was: Art Patronage in the Business Age: Working with CorporationsCompanies working with artists and art institutions; creating art projects; strategic partnerships with museums; working with artists for corporate research and development.Organizers of the first Gulf Fair being held in Dubai have come across a tricky problem. As part of Dubai's efforts to brand itself as a centre for art and commerce, the fair was delighted when high-profile galleries such as White Cube, Ben Brown Fine Arts, Max Ling and Albion agreed to take part. But things got a bit sticky when all participating galleries - whose clients include Tracey Emin and Jeff Koons - were asked to only show art that was appropriate to display in an Islamic state. (March 2007)

Today, we sum up and speak rather of Business of Culture which encompasses all art productions and their global markets. It can address any scale of business. The clients includes artists, art experts, the general public, the arts and heritage councils, civic authorities, educational institutions, festivals, galleries, orchestras, museums, film and media, arts centers, theatres, leisure companies, cultural regeneration agencies and the creative and tourism industries.

Yet, this vibrant business of culture today confronts three key troubles:
The global and the local: the tension between global ideas and the power and authority of local/national cultures forms one trouble. The objective of bridging these two contradictory positions needs skill and clever strategies
Cultural difference: cultural difference as an obstacle to communication provides the second trouble, and the objective here is to examine ways, in which difference is freely manifested.
Different Modernities: the third trouble focuses on the levels of modernity across cultures. It is a political and cultural commitment to consider different stages of tradition and history versus ideas of modernity and post-modernity. Here the objective is to identify this inevitable difference and, through that process, to begin the negotiations that lead to greater understanding.

There is always art criticism on art market, which is connected to the criticism of capitalism. The art market with its mega art fairs are now strongly manipulated by dealers and collectors (private or corporate). This profitable business platform is at the same time a social platform and social communication for artists, which most of time is a selection platform that includes or excludes them. Usually the ones who are excluded attack polemically the art business system, but many established artists also tackle the art-business system with their works.
Paradox is that they do not acknowledge the discrepancy between their financial success and the system criticism. Here the omnipresence of the art-business and the radical forms of art making confront each other, but it creates a fertile field of free expression and debate…
In this dilemma, art is considered as the other capital, which embodies the social values, energies and forces.Some may think that within the mechanisms of the global capitalist economy this other capital should be considered to be lost. But everyday we witness new initiatives, blissful cases of new art production which take care of this loss. Namely the artists who are still working on the margins of the mainstream culture business maintain and support the ideologies and avantgard function of art in the form of the Dada and Fluxus aesthetic.
This other capital seems to be inexhaustible.
©Beral Madra, 5 April 2008

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