Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Private views

I took my daughter (who at 6 was not the youngest!) to a private view this evening. It was at VIVID and called Binary Oppositions. It was an interesting-ish exhibition, a mix of music and images.

Here I want to briefly highlight a conversation I had with an artist (not the show's artist) we were discussing thoughts around employability within the creative industries. Something I have been aware of and have previously referred to as 'tacit knowledge' came up. This is the idea of some people knowing what the sector is like prior to graduating for example both my parents went to art school, my dad a graphic designer, my mum an artist and illustrator. When I did a degree in Fine Art I had a pretty good idea of what was in store for me when I graduated. I knew on graduating I might have to a. work for free b. be self-employed, c. be un-employed for a while d. all 3 (answer for me 'd' + some waitressing).

A lot of my work has been about social inclusion in the creative industries within this work I've come across a lot of individuals who are the first person in their family to go to university, they get a degree in a creative discipline, they graduate, have a degree but here's the thing there are no jobs!! In this sector a degree really doesn't equal a job but it might equal a bunch of opportunities.

Anyhow obviously universities, people like me and many others are increasingly trying to figure this all out and how better to equip students and graduates for a career in the sector.

Incidentally while out bumped into a number of Birmingham bloggers it was a veritable convention will try to remember to post pics to flickr or facebook.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Coming up

A couple of regularish events are coming up. In November I am due to present a couple of papers at this years ISBE conference in Glasgow. These papers are based on two areas I have been working on over the last year.

The first is a literature review relating to my own area of research around gender and entrepreneurship within the creative industries. This will be in the women's track. The other is around how to deliver enterprise education outside of business schools and reflects on the evaluation of the TE3 (Technoogy Enhanced Enterprise Education)project. These papers are both co-authored with my some of my esteemed colleagues and as it gets nearer the time I'll see about making them available.

Another event coming up is the 'Social Footprints' symposium at Birmingham's ICC on the 11th Dec. Here colleagues and I from four HE providers from the West Midlands will be running a workshop on capturing and developing 'Soft indicators'. This is how within a piece of evaluation you capture the harder to quantify outcomes of an intervention (apologies for Euro speak).

I'll find more details out on both of these and keep you posted.


Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a meeting at the LCC (London College of Communication). Things in this part of South London have changed a lot since I was there.

I stayed overnight with a friend in East Dulwich and this morning took the number 12 bus through my old stomping ground, Peckham past my uncle Charlie’s place, on past Camberwell art school where I took life drawing classes on a Saturday mornings (after I grew out of Ballet I guess), down the Wolworth Road, past what was and maybe still is Southwark college where instead of staying at school and doing A level’s I did my first diploma in general art and design and practised being a real mini art student and upto Elephant and Castle where the talented ended up at what was LCP (London college of printing). Following this burst of nostalgia I went into the meeting at what is now LCC.

I was invited me to attend a meeting that was a tentative look at developing a research group looking at teaching enterprise across creative disciplines. For those familiar with this blog this is an area I’ve been researching in one form or another for the last four years. The meeting turned out to be bigger than I’d expected (approx 15) from various research, teaching and other backgrounds and some really interesting issues and opportunities were uncovered.

This will be, no doubt, something that those chairing the session will disseminate and report on fully but I thought I would, without going into too much detailpick out some of the highlights from the meeting for me:

The need to integrate theory and practice – as a researcher, especially one of the ostensibly applied variety, this is something I would always advocate and within my own institution I am always hoping to achieve.

The need to unpick a little of what already happens within an art and design education that might already be contributing to entrepreneurial intent of students – I have been bleeting about this for a while and currently have a paper out for review which fingers crossed will be published in the not too distant future (I’ll keep you posted as and when).

There was a bunch more stuff around international context, developing pedagogies, training needs of staff and a variety of conferences and publishing opportunities that will help this fledgling group have a voice.

When I’ve heard back from the organisers I’ll let you know who to contact if you’re interested. In the meantime feel free to email and I can pass on your contact details.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Creative Entrerprise Facebook Group!

Since Monday I have become the proud administrator/creator of Creative Enterprise Facebook group!

The idea is to have a more interactive environment for me to disseminate some of my ideas and research, connect with other folks working in this area and hopefully help facilitate the general community of practice which is developing around enterprise and entrepreneurship in the creative industries.

I am always keen to here from others working around some of these ideas and it's always good to see what others have written etc. So please go along, join, contribute your ideas and thoughts while hooking up with others from around the UK and beyond working in this field.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Procrastination, distraction or creativity fuel

Sometimes when I get stuck, usually about a month before a deadline (I find I get really unstuck a week before and can write literally thousands of words a day). When that happens I find myself not doing the task in hand and filling my time (which is very easy to do) with all the other bits and bobs I kind of should do but are not exactly high priority (like say writing my blog).

Actually thinking about it it could be that these phases follow the meeting of a deadline.

As I guess most folks in the world of work have, and certainly in my line of work there seem to be, a constant stream of deadlines. For me these are conference papers, final reports and if lucky a journal article - they (the deadlines) seem to come thick and fast and sometimes it can feel a little relentless - (oh did I mention the self-inflicted personal research targets). More on this in a bit.

Anyway as you might have guessed I'm going through one of these phases right now and I have spent the last two days at an altogether relevant conference. The conference was the final showcase of projects funded through EQUAL (I am carrying out a piece of research looking at 'Soft indicators of distance travelled' on one of these projects which has been aiming to 'Challenge gender stereotypes in the workplace’). Anyway this proved to be a fascinating look into how a whole bunch of projects sort to do this. One of particular interest to me was a project that was looking at women returners (i.e. women who return to work having taken a career break following maternity leave/or extended childcare giving).

It specifically looked at women in SET (Science, Engineering and Technology) and there were some terrifying statistics. Something like (and please don't quote me) only 20% of female SET graduates return to a career in these sectors following childbirth! I know this is an issue within the creative industries also where the fast change of pace in certain sub-sectors can have a damaging effect on an individual’s confidence in their ability to perform or keep up with the changes in technology if they've had a significant break. I missed the URL so will have a look and see if I can find a link to the project in question. Again I don’t as yet have the evidence for this being entirely the case in the creative industries or know what impact there might be on a woman who is self-employed in one of these sectors. But my personal experience and my own research into this is beginning to suggest a link.

As for me was I procrastinating by going to the conference? after all I could have been sitting typing away, was I deliberately distracting myself from the task in hand or (and I like this one more) was I feeding my brain, listening, making new connections and hey fueling my own creativity?

Damn that's another 448 words that could have been in my report/chapter/paper agghh!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Reflections on online presence

I've been thinking about a bunch of stuff. Although I have been pretty busy here (universities are lovely and quiet over the summer months although full of builders instead of students) I have been reflecting a lot and also observing those around me (albeit from a virtual position i.e. their online activity and presence).

With Facebook having seemingly swept the 30 something generation (UK west midlands at least) this summer into an online frenzy of virtual activity I am reminded of some of the stuff I/We used to say.

(NB: for those who don't know in a previous life I was heavily immersed in the online and Internet industry/sector/fledgling local scene as was)

Anyway what we said was something like this: your online presence goes beyond just your website (of course a no-brainer right we all know that now) it is every email you send, every posting you make to newsgroup (those were the days)etc etc.. Of course fast forward a few years and this is your Flickr, Facebook, Myspace, Linkedin, Youtube what ever other social networking, photo/music or other repository you happen to use.

What is interesting to me is how we present and manage ourselves in this heavily published environment and how do we advise our students to make absolute best use of the opportunities that these networks offer.

So here I'll briefly give a couple of examples of what I am on about (and I am sure this is something written about/studied in much more detail etc.. I am just thinking aloud/atype? but I'll get to my point in a bit).

Example one: Me
I am reasonably internet savvy have been using it for a long long time. I feel comfortable and confident with most of the stuff I come across, I feel aware of the public nature and the 'wild fire' that can sometimes be initiated when one says something kind of provocative. By the same token when I use Facebook I like to have some fun with it, be myself, be open etc.. but I also find it a fantastically good tool for meeting folks working in the same area as me. This blog has also proved a really good mechanism for making contacts with people working in my area. But I am kind of careful too (a whole bunch of my 'friends' are colleagues or potential colleagues) so I try not to get too drawn into all the other stuff on say facebook (pirates, vampires etc).

Example two: my friend (there is nothing scientific here)
A recently qualified psychologist using Facebook and just realising how little information about her self she really wants out there. Does she really want clients to know she is say single? does she really want employers to know whether or not she recovered from her hangover (thanks to concerned friends wall postings)? probably not.

What is my point here with all of this? Well once again and as ever I'm thinking about the creative industries. Last year I presented a paper about the characteristics of the creative industries. As anyone who has ever worked in this sector will I'm sure testify there is a pretty heavy duty night time element to it - private views, launches, after show parties etc etc.. The boundaries between friendship and work and social life and work are often blurred (and quite different from some other sectors) but ultimately need to be managed or at least considered (whether you know you're doing it or not) because professionalism and presentation are also a major characteristics.

I sense here that I am waffling and not reaching any sort of conclusion. I guess there are a few things here - do the creative industries lend themselves well to these types of online networks and social groups? (of course yes) How careful does one need to be about what one publishes? (and opinions one gives) and as educators how can we encourage students to make the best use of these environments (actually the better question might be what can we learn from students about managing ones online presence?) and with so much scope for things being archived (see this posting) how much of what we say now will come back to haunt us? On that note I’ll stop.