How can we address inequalities of representation in the cultural workforce and specifically in cultural and arts leadership?
Working with Professor Jenny Phillimore at University of Birmingham, Dr Karen Patel and I were commissioned to investigate existing data on Cultural Leadership and Diversity in the West Midlands. The study has been produced as part of our research at Birmingham Centre for Cultural and Media Research (BCMCR) will contribute to a wider study investigating diversity and leadership across a range of industries, in the region.
We have made key findings and our recommendations available here. We offer original findings on the diversity of leadership based on our analysis of ACE National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) in the West Midlands. We highlight areas which need further research and policy attention in relation to cultural leadership, and offer a working definition of cultural leadership. Our research highlights the significance of freelancers and cultural entrepreneurs in the sector, creating complexity in how we view leadership training and opportunities. We also draw attention to good practice in the region, specifically to projects such as RE:Present16 and ASTONish.
As part of my role as a researcher at Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Studies, I was recently invited to evaluate Re:Present, a new programme of activities which seeks to transform the diversity of Birmingham’s cultural leadership. As researcher / evaluator my focus will be twofold: the individual participants’ experience and the significance of the programme in relation to Birmingham’s cultural ecology.
Created and delivered by Helga Henry of Creative Shift and Lara Ratnaraja, Re:Present is funded by Birmingham City Council and Arts Council England, with the additional support of University of Birmingham, Birmingham City University and Aston Business School. But Re:Present is also best described as a very personal project for Lara and Helga. Having worked with Birmingham’s cultural industries for over 15 years, they have witnessed significant changes in the cultural landscape during that period of time. Re:Present was created in response to their concerns and what they perceive as a lack of opportunities for individuals from ‘diverse’ backgrounds. I will explore the idea of ‘diversity’ in future posts but for this first blog post, I describe the context for this initiative. Continue reading Diversity and Cultural Leadership
I recently presented at the New Directions in Film and Television Production Studies 2015 conference as part of a panel presenting research on the topic of Creative Labour.
My paper, entitled ‘The nature of entrepreneurial labour in regional film making’, focused on a small sample of Birmingham film makers and has drawn on my PhD thesis.
My aim was to explore the day-to-day lived experience of entrepreneurial modes of work, identifying individual endeavours and collaborative initiatives, within the context of recent UK cultural and film policies. The space in which film maker’s negotiate personal identities is framed by the local milieu: policies, institutions and individuals. In my research, I find that at a local level, entrepreneurial film makers have a pragmatic approach by contributing to policies and engaging in developing alternative support systems. Structures and relations between individuals help to shape the cultural milieu for entrepreneurial cultural work, but this is a fluid space in which individual film makers negotiate diverse priorities and values.
Continue reading What is the Nature of Entrepreneurial Labour in Regional Film Making?
In her chapter entitled Good Work? Rethinking Cultural Entrepreneurship (in Creativity and Cultural Policy edited by Bilton), Kate Oakley rethinks entrepreneurship and the notion of good work. The thrust of her argument is that the policy rhetoric encouraging entrepreneurship in the cultural sector needs to take note of the challenges of cultural work and self-employment. A better understanding of different practices and individual experiences needs to inform the ‘rethinking of cultural entrepreneurship’. As Oakley states, there is a ‘disconnect between the discourse of cultural entrepreneurship and the reality of it.’
I’d like to pick up a few ideas from Oakley’s chapter and add my own research and comments to the debate. Continue reading Cultural Entrepreneurship: Good or Bad Work?