Tag Archives: social capital

Beyond the Campus

What role does Higher Education play in creating platforms, spaces and networks for creative arts and the creative industries? This question was the topic for the third workshop in a series of events, Beyond the Campus organised by Dr Roberta Comunian and Dr Abigail Gilmore and hosted by my colleague Dr Paul Long on Wednesday 6th November 2013.

The workshop focused on collaborations, networks and spaces shared by creative industries and higher education exploring both formal arrangements and practices as well as informal  networks and shared activities. Different spaces and networks were discussed including a keynote talk from Sebastian Olma challenging us to re-think the nature of work and the environments conducive to current working practices. Olma’s work is based on his study of serendipity as a crucial ingredient in innovative and entrepreneurial models of work, discussed previously in this blog.

My own contribution was a study of Birmingham’s creative milieu and how it can act as a space for students in ‘becoming’ a creative industries professional.  My research suggests that an opportunity to interact with the local creative industries community can offer an environment for experimentation in preparing for the realities of creative industries work.

I argue that by engaging in a creative industries milieu, characterized by its networks, relationships, key individuals and spaces (on and offline), students experience the realities of cultural work. Some students contribute to the local dynamic, establishing relationships which last well beyond their studies. But the process of immersing oneself requires cultural and social capital, and, as a student, is by no means easy. The research highlights some of the challenges through my interviews with international students and networks such as Birmingham’s Social Media Cafe. I suggest that a focus on encouraging interaction to explore the realities of creative work leaves little room for contesting or disrupting the status quo. A lack of critical reflection could be dangerous for creative industries students entering what is often described by academics as insecure and precarious work.

I hope that as part of the Beyond the Campus research, some of these challenges will be further developed.

My presentation slides:

Not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur

In a recent article, The End of Quiet Music, Alina Simone discusses her concerns with having to be entrepreneurial and ‘selling’ her music. Simone says:

 I was a singer, not a saleswoman. Not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur.

I dont agree with everything Simone suggests. For example, I have some concerns with the idea that patronage is the answer or that musicians can be supported by governments or other public institutions. However, I do have sympathy with the idea that not everyone is comfortable with being an entrepreneur. In fact, I come across this quite often. The sense that some, not all, individuals working within the creative and media industries will have to be entrepreneurial to get on, but are relunctance to fully embrace entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurial practices require high levels of personal investment and as Angela McRobbie argues, it can lead to self-exploitation. Blaming yourself if things go wrong and working hard for little financial reward; for ‘the love of it’.

 There is nothing wrong with being enterprising but the overwhelming positivity associated with enterpreneurs and entrepreneurship can provoke uneasiness. It is something we actively discuss on the MA Media and Creative Enterprise. The challenges and risks are too often gloosed over. I hope this becomes part of the discussion for the Centre for Entrepreneurs who are currently investigating the media view of entrepreneurship.

ISBE conference

I recently attended the ISBE conference and delivered a paper with my colleague Steve Harding. The paper is called Collaborative Learning with Creative Enterprises in the EU – a case study approach.
The conference had many different strands but the bits of interest to me are nicely captured by Frances Brown in her blog. And if you like fancy visuals, Frances created a picture of her ‘takeaways’ too.

Creative industries track (and a tiny bit of social and enterprise education)
Networks and Networking – “Fitting in and standing out” Eleanor Shaw
Everyone was talking about networks whether it was musician-entrepreneurs spending time and money to be part of their community via doing free gigs and supporting others gigs or networking being used as a learning experience via peer information sharing.  An interesting presentation looked at a new business that set up in a mature industry but quickly became embedded in and central to the network.  The study looked at the journey from pre-embedding to deep embedding via strategic networking, with intent.  Actively planning roles of each member of the business to network with others on their particular employment levels e.g. director and director, manager and manager and for a particular purpose.  The human capital of networks and communities were also considered in terms of entrepreneurs feeding into the community and having positive impact via contacts and reputation and the occurrence of an informal sharing and barter system.
Intent
Intent was considered again in relation to creative industries with it’s overwhelming drive to set up business for practice rather than for business sake.  In this case the complexity of the industry was examined with differing levels of intent arising in the form of ‘tactical’ intent – driven by desire to practice, often working towards an ultimate future goal – and ‘pragmatic’ intent of those who had multiple businesses over the research period and displayed a weak attachment to the projects/businesses as long as they were practicing in some way.

The discussions about networks, social & cultural capital are particularly pertinent for students launching a career in the media and creative industries. I touched on that in a previous post.

The Pros and Cons of Networking

You’ve probably heard the expression ‘It’s not what you know, its who you know’. If you are developing a career in the media or creative industries this certainly seems to be true.

Certainly, your contacts and your ability to network is going to help you progress in a highly competitive industry. However, it is easier said than done.

I had an interesting discussion with MA Media students yesterday about the challenges and difficulties associated with networking, particularly when you are new to an area. Continue reading The Pros and Cons of Networking