Thursday, December 29, 2005

New Year

Happy New Year etc and for me some new years resoloutions:

1. Phd - get started

2. keep on blogging

3. Network - make connections get the whole 'linked in' thing working for me properly

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Entre pre what?

Okay so last week at a rather stimulating 'away day' with the team, we touched on, but didn't get too involved in, the definition of an Entrepreneur. Over the last couple of months I've attended several conferences were the words 'enterprise' 'entrepreneurship' 'freelancer' 'self-employed' and 'business owner' seem to have been used interchangeably. So anyway this day I guess I was doing that same such thing in relation to the creative industries (two other heavily used words) and my esteemed colleague (prof) was quick to point out my inappropriate use of the word entrepreneur. Based on this I have decided I need to apply some rigour to my use of language, but here is where I was coming from.

Firstly here is my original home spun version of what I had always considered an entrepreneur.

It all started with when I was about 12 and my dad described Arthur Daley (Minder, Thames Television) as an 'entrepreneur' he, my dad, described an entrepreneur as someone who sought and exploited opportunities in order to make money (or something like that) the general vibe was someone who was an opportunist, motivated ostensibly by making a reasonably speedy return on their investment (usually from a lock-up in south London).

As I got older I started to think of entrepreneurship as something pretty seedy, this was the 80's after all and my naive left wing, art school trained views lead me to distrust the commercial world and the money crabbing greedy 'entrepreneurs' I perceived as benefiting from Thatcherite Britain...where am I going with this?

Anyway it took me a long time to get over this view, some how as an artist if you did 'commercial' work you had some how sold out. But hang on. As an artist I did pretty quickly get into the commercial world after all I had ideas and opportunities that I needed to exploit, that were timely, that might just serve to raise my profile or might serve any number of 'other' purposes. But was this activity entrepreneurial? When a student leaves art, design, drama, music college and they find they have to work as a freelancer do they not need to exhibit entrepreneurial traits? seeking and exploiting opportunities in order to succeed in a crowded and competitive market?

Well this is all fair and good but it's just me expressing some thoughts and opinions and in the academic world that isn't sufficient. There are definitions, whole strands of academic scholarship devoted to the subject and here I will try and bring to you some of those definitions and ideas as I discover them. You might also wonder whether or not the definitions are important. I am suspending judgement until I find out a little more but my main focus for this is to questions whether or not individuals working in the creative industries, whether they be self-employed, just freelancers or running small companies are actually entrepreneurs?

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Mini Conference

I spend a day a week seconded to our Faculty of Art and Design, as well as working the research strand of their new media enterprise MA I am helping them to organise an event looking at Enterprise curriculum in Higher Education for Creative Industries. I've been responsible for generating the content of the day and so far it's looking pretty interesting. Rather than duplicate it all take a look at Media Content labs website, this is the department with in the faculty running this course. It's also quite a unique collaboration between the business school and Art School, quite appropriate for something looking at Creative Enterprise. I'll keep you all posted as this develops. For your diary it's 25th January 2006 in Birmingham UK

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Monday, December 12, 2005

I have a hunch...

Now I know I've mentioned this before but what started as a vague hunch is transforming into an idea or an opinion at least. Okay so first of all let me set the scene it's Wolverhampton 1991-1994, School of Art and Design 7th floor, (the school of fine art) off a long corridor there are light and airy (often cold in winter) rooms (I will refer to them as studios) in each studio there are between 1 and 6 students sometimes the studio is full, sometimes empty. Each student has their own space, their studio space.

Unlike most students these are not governed by a rigid timetable of lectures, essay deadlines and workshops. Instead they are given briefs to work to, often devised through negotiation with their lecturer (client) and then they are left to get on with it. Although the lecturer will appear from time to time over the coming weeks/months the student will only get to see him/her if they schedule an appointment (meeting). But for the most part they will get on with their work, will require self-discipline and motivation and will often seek the support of their fellow students(colleagues, networks)to bounce ideas around and brain storm.

At an agreed time the groups of students will present their work for critique, they will be required to present to a group of fellow students and lecturer (colleagues and clients) and be prepared to defend the rigor of their work. They may also be required to find an external avenue for presenting this work (a gallery space), requiring negotiating with external groups and orgnaisations.

Okay so what's my point? Well this is a brief outline of the type of education I experienced. And experience is the right word, the transition from Art school to the real world, although painful in some ways was quite straight forward. Well what did I need? Oh yes a studio space (check), some clients (check), some self-discipline and motivation(Check, check). My point is that this sort of experiential learning is not so far removed from the idea of an incubation unit.

The Creative Industries have very high levels of self-employment and endeavours, based on this model, I wonder, is it that suprising?

Monday, December 05, 2005

What is the role of blogging in research?

Following on from my previous post I am trying to get a consensus of some sort as to what the role of blogging is within research. With Creative enterprise I intend to gradually create a place for ideas and gradually build links with others, encourage others to comment and contribute and in so doing contribute to my research. But how does this fit with the regular research process?

Okay in my reasonably limited experience there seems to be quite a lot of secrecy around people's research, with embargoes on findings and obsessions with ownership until the last piece of analysis is complete. Now I know that this is often stipulated by funding bodies, but for someone who worked in internet companies and always talked about the virtues of open source and open philosophies to content distribution the whole embargo thing seems counter intuitive.

I'm not suggesting that one has all raw data online but a certain openness with issues that arise etc.. could offer opportunities.

Maybe I'm missing something?

In need of focus

This might be a bit off topic - but I have some concerns that arose today:

As someone who is relativly new to this academic gig I am just getting used to the way things are done. The type of research I'm involved in seems, often, like reportage.... let me explain.... a colleague and I were talking about this today. I identified a feeling I've had while involved in this work with the creative industries it often goes something like this:

'I used to be someone who created stuff and now I am someone who reports on other people creating stuff'

A part from seeming somewhat depressing, I wanted to get to something else, I mean research in other fields is often about innovation, discovering things and creating things. So my question to myself is:

'how am I innovating? what am I creating?'

Saturday, November 26, 2005

What are we trying to fix?

While involved in all this work to develop curriculum for teaching creative industry type students how to run businesses and be more enterprising, I keep asking myself: 'what are we trying to fix here? ' now I might be doing myself out of a job here, but with 42% of graduates from this sector having some level of self-employment in the first 5 years, and realise this is much higher than other sectors, then well, isn't something going right? Now don't get me wrong there are people who do need more advice, support, who maybe lack confidence, role models, finance or self-esteem. But surely the question should not be what can we teach the creative industries but what can they teach other sectors? I have some ideas about this relating to the nature and style of teaching on arts courses and will try to get my thoughts together about this for a future posting....

Sunday, October 30, 2005

ISBE 2005

The Institute of Small Business and entrepreneurship have their annual conference coming up. This year sees it taking place in Blackpool on the 1st-3rd Nov. I'll be delivering a paper called 'Sustainable Inclusion' based on a project I've been involved in and looking at the work of a couple of creative/cultural organisation's who have been working towards greater inclusion and diversity. As usual I'm obsessed with the sustainability of work that has short-term funding and how the knowledge/learning gained embeds in the culture of the organisation and whether this is evident in their future approach. I'm also on the look out for other folks doing creative industry enterprise stuff.....I'll let you know how the conference goes

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Tuesday in Manchester

Ok so yesterday I got up early, made may way to Manchester, got very rained on and spent the day listening to the great and good talking about Enterprise and Creative places. This was the Cambridge MIT summit. For me this was a day of stimulating and thought provoking talks. Here are some of my observations from the day - there may be more:

Diversity was a key issue that came up again and again, numerous research cited diversity as one of the key drivers for creativity and 'happy' citizens, but at this conference I had to ask the question; where were the black people? Is it okay to ask the question, open up the dialogue about diversity and inclusion to such a homogenous audience. For me I felt acutely aware of the non-inclusivity of academia. I was reminded of very white, male dominated conference I'd been to last year were the 'old' boys network' had been positively tangible. I don't wish to criticise anyone but having just spent the last three years researching organisational diversification and social inclusion in the creative industries I can't help wondering when the wider academic world is going to 'walk the walk'. I cant help wondering how different the debate might have been would have been had the audience and speakers been more diverse. I did speak briefly with Richard Florida about this and it was something he had been aware of throughout the day and commented that the final panel of speakers was also male dominated, with just Kirsty Wark who was ultimately acting as a facilitator.

It was great to hear Anthony H Wilson tell the story of the Manchester music scene. As someone who did their growing up, teen age and student years through this time, I loved hearing his story and felt aware of the strangeness of part of my own experience and a time I felt I really lived through being consigned to history. Not to mention being a Londoner and the whole Manchester music thing being a rather bitter pill to swallow. I remember going to clubs in London who were trying to introduce house music and everyone desperate to have their rare groove and funky beats back on ... we just didn't get it like Manchester did.

I should also say that throughout that time I and many of my friends made regular trips to Manchester just to go to the Hacienda - so Tony thanks for the memories..

I will respond to Richard Florida's speech in a later when I've had more time to digest it all.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Creative what?

Creative industries what are they anyway?

I've been in them one way or another since I was born. My mother an artist and art teacher, my father a graphic designer, my brother, aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins all artists, architects, computer designers, engineers, map makers, actors, illustrators, jazz musicians or stain glass window painters.....what chance did I stand? With a strict diet of Ballet, Modern, Jazz and tap from age 4 and paper and scissors (my choice apparently) as toys, and batique and pottery as 'at home activities' what was I supposed to think the world was really like?

So having finally given up on becoming a Ballerina age 15 (it wasn't that I was that bad just got interested in other stuff (read boys) and didn't have the required drive to really go there) I moved onto being an artist, five years of college and Art school, two years of being a very poor, working for free artist (read waitress) and 5-6 years of working with my other half in a new media and internet consultancy I feel I have a perspective on these things.

For the last couple of years through employment choices I have found myself heavily involved in the city-wide (Birmingham UK) drive to develop the Creative industries. But I have a problem. I mean I know what they mean - the DCMS have there definitions and we all go by them. Apparently the creative industries are made up of some 13 sub-sectors including everyone involved from fine artists through to advertisers, to software designers. My concern is that Creative insutries as a 'catch all' includes some very varied occupations. In supporting and nurturing these professions are we lumping them altogether? Is it possible that really their needs might all be quite different?

I don't know the answers to this...yet

Enterprise curriculum

I work in a business school but am seconded a day a week to work with our faculty of Art and Design, together we are organising an event to investigate and work through the issues of enterprise curriculum for higher education creative industries courses. The event is due to take place on the 25th January 2006 in Birmingham (UK) - I'll be keeping you posted on how this develops anyone wishing to participate please email me.

Phd Conundrums

For the last year colleagues have been encouraging me to start my PhD. But with short term contracts and plenty of ambiguity around my future working status I'm more than a little afraid of making the time commitment. Then there's the big question - Which of my many research interests is going to keep me interested for 4 odd years! But as a very dear colleague reminded me over coffee this morning;' all the time I'm thinking about the time is passing' and he's right I could be a year into it if I'd applied when it first became an option.

So here's the plan. As I've said tomorrow I'll go to Manchester as planned. I'll take my laptop, not as planned. I'll use the three hours I'll be on a train to and from the conference to really figure out what my PhD is going to be about. And then I'll apply. You see time is my other issue. With a young child and ever increasing guilt about how I split my time between work and home-life I want the PhD to ideally be part of my work-life and not the latter. But work/life balance is another post for another day.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Coming soon

Tuesday I'm on my way north to the Cambridge MIT summit in Manchester (UK) to see Richard Florida speak. As someone who's books have been pretty influential on my own work and thinking in the last few years I'm really looking forward to this. Will report back.

What's it all about?

Welcome to Creative Enterprise. As the name, I hope, suggests this is my area of interest, below I've bulleted my main research areas. But as much as anything I'll be trying to figure out what creative enterprise actually means?

So briefy just to set the seen

My research interests:

- Social Inclusion in the creative industries - what are the barriers to disenfranchised citizens to accessing employment and self-employment in this growing sector? And why is it not as diverse as one might anticipate?
- Graduate entrepreneurship in the creative industries - What is the responsibility of HE in supporting under and post graduates into self-employment? Capturing the journey into self-employment/starting a business - case studies. Including a specific study looking at female entrepreneurship in the creative industries - case studies across the thirteen sub-sectors identified by the DCMS
- Organisational diversification - a piece of developing research capturing the journeys of SME's in the creative industries as they try to diversify their work forces, audiences and markets.
- Creative cities and spaces - how all the above stuff fits into creating a fabulous and creative place to live.
- Business succession planning and non-traditional gender roles (these are two other projects I have some involvement in and tend to influence my main areas of interest - they may crop up from time to time.

I'm planning to use this blog as an external space to explore some of the thoughts and issues I come across in my day job (university researcher) and really try to help focus my mind on what work is the most interesting to pursue. I will also report on some of the events and stuff I go to and freelance jobs I work on.

Apologies in advance this stuff will be rough cut I don't intend to get too precious about spelling, typo's and generally badly formed ideas. I just want a place to get it all down. Constructive contributions welcome.