Category Archives: Gallery 133 Blog

CultureBanking… Worth getting curious about?

Building the local cultural economy.
Building the local cultural economy.

Where public services are struggling in towns, cities and rural areas of the greatest social deprivation, the existence of market-driven environments are often even harder to establish and less central to the existing culture of those areas. Problems derived from economic stagnation such as de-motivation, lowered expectations and passivity mean that stimulating economic activity – and cultural economic activity in particular – is especially difficult. Harnessing and growing local communities’ enthusiasms, craft skills and innovation is more and more essential – especially ‘post Brexit’.

Arts organisations and individuals are finding themselves in often foreign environments where they are being asked to demonstrate commercial viability and to become almost entirely self funding – or perish – particularly those who relied on Local Authorities. (See #CivicRoleArts in January 2017 for results of the Gulbenkian Enquiry into the Civic Role of Arts Orgs, which Gallery 133 has contributed to)

Even in the state run NPO environment, there is a trend towards using public money to leverage private investment. There is a need on a local, national and international basis for new mechanisms which encourage a more ‘market – driven’ environment in the cultural sector, but one which doesn’t crush small and local endeavours. CultureBank is precisely such a mechanism…

Solutions

A proposed mixture of online magazine and and guided donation website, crowd-funder, Collective Rights Management and ‘imprinted brand'; CultureBanking aims to act as a ‘route to market’ to value, support and ultimately re-cycle the cultural output of communities for spiritual, emotional, social and financial improvement and sustainability. 

A ‘local label’ that can trade globally:

We aim to help build local integrated thriving economies – where trade is a mechanism of connecting people and countering isolation. The idea is based on a combination of a gift-exchanging business models and asset based community development. 

Relying upon and working with FinTech developers in the areas of smart contracts and Distributed Ledger Technologies, Gallery133 is working in 2017 on elements of the business with a phased ‘Feasibility/Scoping, Testing and future Launch proposed…

By building connections between cultural producers and innovators and their fans, patrons, audiences or more prosaically, ‘consumers’ or ‘markets’, CultureBanking is inviting potential users to direct their cultural spending not just towards cultural products they enjoy (film, music, books, theatre etc) but also towards changes they want to see in the world  – both locally and nationally. 

We’re organising 3 focus sessions with local arts organisations in order to make sure the research and development comes directly from real needs amongst local artists, musicians and makers (Please see below for registering an interest in these sessions).

G133 is currently reserving IP rights and researching how CB might work across different medias from crafts to music to film and digital technology…

We are talking to potential partners and investors in all sectors and are especially interested in the potential for Action Research projects in UK Universities…

We’re also interested in working with arts organisations and companies from Fintech, IP legal, accounting and ‘Ap’ software development areas. if you would like to know more about CultureBanking, find out how it could benefit you or would like to sign up to a mailing list to receive updates about it’s future development, or possibly attend one of our focus sessions – please go to: gallery133.net and fill in the contact form details. There is also a Facebook page for Gallery133 and @thegallery133 Twitter account where you can leave any comments or queries.

To discuss any matters in particular, please use:  mail@gallery133.net

Liam Murphy.

Director

Gallery133

What Next?

What Next? Yarmouth and Lowestoft Chapter will be convening a  meeting towards the end of September/early October (TBC) as a follow-up to our consultation meeting with John Knell last year about the ongoing development of a Great Yarmouth Arts Strategy. The session is being organised on behalf of Great Yarmouth Borough Council and What Next? will be operating as a consulting partner to assess the ongoing needs of artists and all in the creative and cultural sector in the area. Invitations will be sent out once a date has been decided but anyone interested in attending can contact: mail@gallery133.net to reserve a place.

All best,

Liam Murphy.

Thought Leadership (Around The Bench)

Or ‘One Good Course Deserves Another’

Poducts Of Framing Workshop

Thought Leadership, Returns On Investment, John Betjeman, Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden (and an host of artists worthy of review); McKinsey’s Management Consultancy,, the need to ‘draw it first!’ and some wonderful anecdotes about the rich and reputed. These have all been subjects of conversation ‘around the bench’ whilst working with Simon Pell on Gallery133’s Picture Framing Course. Simon, it transpires, is the Pell of ‘Pell and Bales’ fundraisers, the highest value fundraiser the UK has produced, as he points out with justifiable pride, although at pains to distance himself from the present incarnation of the company he sold some years ago but had built from the kitchen table upwards. This chimes strongly with me as we discuss our previous and ongoing business creations, adventures in solo child rearing, several artists and those anecdotes.

Simon came on the Picture Framing Course to help him re-invigorate a modest but interesting collection of assembled artworks, prints and ephemera accumulated whilst running a business, raising children and broadly having some fascinating experiences which I was afforded the pleasure of hearing about over our six days together in the Gallery133 workshop: ‘Bench-talk’ you might say. Our conversation was ‘framed’ – pardon the pun – as I’d been meditating on some enduring themes whilst reflecting on my previous two years of trying to invent and grow Gallery133:

‘What if people could do (or help others to do) stuff they need to do without seeking external ‘funding’ and learn to do this by creating (sharing) wealth  (capacity) instead of emphasising or demonstrating their – or others – disadvantages to ‘get on’?’… (A bit of a mouth-full I know).

’Charity wounds’ goes the maxim and a year battling to invent a business in Yarmouth convinced me of it’s truth. ’’CultureBanking’ is my response to the problems it can proliferate. It wasn’t until I met Simon that I learned what I was doing in the language of the marketeer: Thought Leadership – apparently! This sounds good, I do the web search to see what it could mean for CultureBanking.

Here’s the Wiki reference for anyone who’s interested: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought_leader. It tells us: “The Oxford English Dictionary gives as its first citation for the phrase an 1887 description of Henry Ward Beecher as “one of the great thought-leaders in America.” It was revived or reinvented by marketers in the 1980s. In a 1990 article in the Wall Street Journal Marketing section, Patrick Reilly used the term “thought leader publications” to refer to such magazines as Harper’s”. David Brooks wrote a satirical piece in the New York Times which is also entertaining – here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/17/opinion/brooks-the-thought-leader.html?hpw&rref=opinion&_r=1

It would be edifying to think that I could emulate the proclivities of the pilloried as a:

“ …highflying, good-doing yacht-to-yacht concept peddler. Each year, (I would get) to speak at the Clinton Global Initiative, where successful people gather to express compassion for those not invited.”

Succinctly put. But having spent much of the last 20 years as a single parent living in a string of ‘social houses’ whilst managing on a single person’s state allowance and working in the burgeoning ‘grey economy’, I decide ‘Thought Leadership’ IS for me. At 47, I am due my Gap Yar in South America and my college application definitely should say: “I Went to Panama (Great Yarmouth?) to Teach the Natives About Math (Art) but They Ended Up Teaching Me About Life” !

I do actually have a college application to write. Its for the MA in Creative Entrepreneurship at the University of East Anglia. I was invited to apply by Ian Chance, the course Director who, after our long telephone conversation, and to my great excitement, has some enthusiasm for the idea of ‘CultureBanking’. I’ll let you know what the application says when I’ve written it – wish me luck? Judging by the list of Alumni and guest speakers, I hope to be in good company again.  Thanks Simon.  It was a real pleasure sharing a bench.  Amazing what can come from of an ‘umble picture framing course!

 

Seeking New Opportunities...

From Islington to Yarmouth With Love: A Report from What Next? Central

What Next? (Yarmouth and Lowestoft)

Fresh back from a whistle stop trip to Saddler’s Wells yesterday for a meeting of the What Next? regional groups, here’s just a taster of the inspirational stories, ventures and ideas currently fomenting:

Together we can turn Yarmouth and Lowestoft into Islington! (joke).

A Growing Movement:

WN? Sunderland reported early attendances of around 80 people – all meeting in a local record store! The massive response shows how much enthusiasm and talent is out there. WN? Cardiff talked about the recent successful ‘Cardiff Without Culture?’ campaign which received 2.5 million impressions and restored the local authority’s proposed cuts to Cultural Services. WN? Sheffield has been taking practical action in the form of the sheffieldcreativeguild.com using methods like http://www.timebanking.org/ amongst others to grow local creative economies. Well worthy of a glance for Creatives here on the easternmost side of East Anglia… 

Whilst WN? is not seeking to grow exponentially, it will be seeking finance to create a supporting role to encourage capacity in local groups. This could be fund-raising support, advice or networking but will ultimately enable local chapters to grow in the ways we need to. Generating new kinds of activity, business-models, trading initiatives and new ways of working across a variety of civic functions all need to be supported and encouraged.

Culture and Civics:

On the subject of ‘civic functions’, What Next? is soon to launch it’s consultation partnership led by Calouste Gulbenkian (UK) into the Civic Role of Art and Culture: Questions like: What is it? What can it be? What are good examples of it in practice? How should we grow it? abide. There will be some funding available to choose examples from around the regions of how arts and culture are being used (or not) for civic functions. This could be an opportunity for Yarmouth and Lowestoft to look into new – and old –  ideas like guilds and creative networks, ‘time banking’, #culturebanking and new virtual ways that arts and cultural work can help to fulfil ‘civic functions’ and increase opportunity, inclusivity and participation. There is £40,000 available to facilitate WN’s involvement. WN? Yarmouth and Lowestoft will form part of the reference group on this enquiry.

Not All Talk: Get Involved?

There’s also opportunities for groups in the regions to generate activity around these ideas and to finance new initiatives. Come along to the next WN? meeting and help make a plan for action…? 

Currently, the admin time allowed for managing WN? is about 4 hours a week and none of this work is financed. What Next? (Yarmouth and Lowestoft) is seeking help from local arts organisations and individuals who can help with things like minor admin tasks, taking minutes (not usually essential), providing meeting venues and generally growing arts and culture opportunities in the area – and we also want to hear from artists, business owners, professionals and creatives who’d like to come to a meeting and talk about what they do – or want to do! – to other like-minded folk…

What Next? aims to be about promoting arts and culture through ‘building unlikely alliances’ – so it’s really important to spread the message and join up with as wide a variety of other interests as possible. Please share…!

I look forward to meeting you at a WN? event soon…

Liam Murphy

Chair WN? Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

mail@gallery133.net

http://www.whatnextnorfolk.org.uk – ‘sister’ group meeting weekly in Norwich

http://www.whatnextculture.co.uk – National Site.

The Arts Funding Debate (again)

#culturebanking 

Ever come across a surprisingly large organisation which simply falls apart due to financial mis-management?

Naming no names, there are particular, largely public sector financial conventions which consistently lead to the wasting and mis-management of money. Probably the most widespread is the government auditing led practice of ‘spend to save’. We all know this and most have individual anecdotes. I’m talking about the time honoured tradition in which government departments (it happens across the European Community too) make ill-planned and sometimes vast transfers of cash to the first recipient who can most easily receive it on the basis that if the money allocated is not spent in the current financial year, it will mean a reduction in the following years budget. The ongoing effect of these ill timed payments (they happen more often than anyone would want to admit) is not only poor strategic use of the investment but often the hamstringing of good work which the recipient was carrying out under greater pressures brought on by the responsibility of spending millions of pounds on some hastily invented projects which become financial millstones hindering core services rather than helping. Rewards are for wasting money and not saving it.

This system of government and local authority financing has found a natural antidote, all be it not a desirable one in everyone’s books with privatisation of functions, but this doesn’t always address the problem as contracts are allocated and funded in much the same way to private tendered companies as they were previously.

In considering the real machinations of financing specific government and LA functions, we are really evaluating those areas of service delivery and governance which might lend themselves to being financed in an alternative way and those which demand only the accountability which being under the direct control of an elected chamber can offer.

We could all make our own lists of which might be which – and why not? Here’s a quick ‘back of a beermat’ effort:

‘Out-sourced': Bins, Roads, Maintenance Works, Property Management, Tourism and Leisure.

‘Direct government funded and direct accountability': Police, Treasury, Children’s Services,  Planning, Social Services.

Ok – that’ll do. Some may not be black and white – but you get the gist. It’s at this point – and you see it clearly by looking at all local authorities with under £20 Million annual budgets: ‘Arts and Culture’ probably doesn’t even warrant it’s own officer or department.

Compounding this, the Tory government has favoured directing available funding towards the Arts Council and away from local authorities to and so we are hearing a plethora of ‘initiatives’ from that direction aimed at ‘democratising’ arts and culture. ’64 Million Artists’ is one such venture, whereby consultants are hired to approach the Arts Councils’ crop of chosen ‘providers’ in order to ‘explore’ ways of ‘reaching out’ to the ‘grass roots’ of ‘arts and culture’ in our regions. Pardon the over use of inverted commas but the language is so taken for granted and over used – they are needed.

The result of this preference for arts-specialist funding over local authority (ie non art-form specific community based funding) is to raise the status and the scope of many of our National Portfolio Organisations who are and always have been chiefly arts organisations to ‘arts organisations with service level agreements’ on behalf of local authorities who have little or no function or funding left for arts and culture.

In light of these developments, where you decide to put your ‘arts and culture’ offer in our two lists seems less problematic: It sounds like it’s being (like it or not) farmed out to the Arts Council – so we’ll bung it in the ‘Out-sourced’ category. Except the Arts Council is hardly a risk taking, innovative private sector led organisation. It’s basically entirely reliant on public money. But you have to fund arts if you want quality arts provision don’t you? And isn’t that what the Arts Council does? So, whats the problem..?

Well, the problem is the Arts Council has no grass roots. it’s a very large tree, with a wide drip-line, under which there are many many febrile roots reaching out to the widest tips of its branches, but nothing else grows underneath it. There is no lawn of interconnected grass roots which will grow as one whilst being independent and ‘diverse’. If you cut the tree down, it will not grow back, as grass roots do. But you might get some interesting grasses developing….

So what’s #culturebanking and what does it have to do with all this……?

#culturebanking

It’s not complicated at all:

When you put your money in a bank, you hope for some interest back on it. It’s an investment. When you put money into a business, you hope for a dividend. It’s an investment.  When you pay your tax, you hope the local A and E department will save your life. It’s an investment. When your firm spends money training new recruits – you expect them to work for you. It’s an investment. Yet art is still  ‘it’s own reward’ and it’s funding is, literally, ‘a lottery’ – or else relies on some outmoded C.19 system of ‘patronage’. We can do much better.

Through the mechanisms of intellectual property rights, licensing, equity shares, crowd-funding and guided donation, it is possible to create some residual benefit when a piece of work ‘hits the big-time’ or even has just a small amount of success and to recycle some of that success back into the grass roots from which it grew and to strengthen these roots in order to grow, knit, weave, sing louder, write better, make new work… etc.

This is what #culturebanking proposes to do. Everyone had a ‘grass-root’.  What organisations like the Arts Council and others are now asking (via #64millionartists) more than ever before is:

How can we do this?

#culturebanking – have your say….

Developing Writing Opportunities in Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

To register an interest in Creative Writing Courses and Opportunities in the area please fill in the contact form.

What Next? Notes from Friday 4th Meeting – or:  ‘The (somewhat muddy) GrassRoots’

Dear All,

I hope you will not mind if I feed back my quite honest reflections following our recent Yarmouth What Next? meeting yesterday. Further below are (possibly more useful to WN?) specific news from recent meets:

We had several apologies from Melinda Appleby (Waveney and Blyth Arts and Landscape Writer), Seachange Arts and the Museums Service, Ellery Child, from other numerous local practitioners (who were each attending their ‘day jobs’) and from Hugh Sturzaker of the GY Arts Festival (who has been a constant supporter).

In attendance: Liam Murphy, Tom Richards (Comeunity/Vol.Norfolk), Patricia Peters, Daniel England, Alison Macfarlane, Julia Devonshire

It was a shame that Gavin Dean, theatre manager, couldn’t join us – but perhaps I should do more to engage!

Having come from a Great Yarmouth Cultural Heritage Partnership meeting previously, where I was asked by Hugh Sturzaker (the Chair) to introduce What Next? to the group, It had been noted by some members that in the absence of Seachange Arts, I was alone in representing artists and artistic production in the Partnership! ‘Heritage’ is a clearly distinct and better (financially) supported activity in Great Yarmouth.  There is a very clear deficit in support for new work by local people. Seachange have limited engagement in this area but are an art form – specific company and therefore not working comprehensively across all media. Opportunities in Music, Visual Arts, Spoken and Written Word, 3d, Combined Arts, Public Realm, Crafts, Film and New Media are great and largely under-exploited..

This meeting of WN? was called in response to a request from James Moore and other local writers, (around 20 at most) who have formed a local writers’ group called ‘Blurb’ – operative for the past 18 months.

In response to this request, I invited reps from WriterCentreNorwich, local writers and WN? attendees . Whilst I am not entirely pessimistic for the prospects of a What Next? group in this region (we had, again, some new attendees including the artist Julia Devonshire and Alison Macfarlane, Executive Director at WCN) I did feel as Chair, that WN? alone was not the ideal vehicle to meet the disparate but overlapping needs of people in this area who are interested in arts practice and keen to embark on professional development opportunities..

James was ill and sent Daniel, another member of the group in his absence, who was very eloquent in describing the group and the intentions of the group. The need to find opportunity and support for a variety of interests and needs was very apparent and the risk of such activities degenerating into less productive pastimes without support and steering was also articulated.

Alison spoke briefly about WritersCentre and Norwich’s UNESCO City Of Literature status. She explained that WCN would not be able to furnish any ‘grass-roots’ development with paid assistance and would not see a role for themselves in the actual development of that grass roots activity in the first place.  They would however most definitely welcome an opportunity to collaborate with an organised (and here I would suggest Yarmouth AND Lowestoft grouping). I am very grateful to her for visiting and being so supportive and her suggestion was, broadly, ‘go for it’. The challenge then lies with the creative community in the area to organise in a way that will allow for valuable partnerships like this (and others) to develop. (I am also aware of the work of Rebeccah Giltrow at Gorleston Library in this area and have initiated some contact there.)

I noted the same kind of ‘just do it’ response from David Lan onstage at the first WN? conference. I share the sentiments. However: ‘Just do it’ in London or Manchester is a very different call to ‘Just do it’ in Yarmouth…Opportunity is not geographically equal(I think we all get that). However, if, in the arts, we settle for an entirely market driven ‘attraction to the rich’ and ‘repulsion from the poor’ approach – what hope for everyone else? Where is that trickledown? UNESCO status in relatively thriving Norwich, 20 miles away is having virtually no positive effect in Yarmouth, but is probably dragging talent away…

Which leads me here: 

http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/huge_funding_boost_for_norfolk_and_suffolk_s_cultural_scene_1_4432260

——

At this point, I might overstep my role as WN? chair and apologies if this is so.  My feeling is that, having audited the assets available, what I have to offer are my joint abilities as an artist and writer and in running a productive cultural sector business. What is really most needed in GY is for people to have accessible opportunities, knowledge and facilities where they can ‘just do it’. I devised a business model whilst at Gallery133 (now Skippings) which I believe would enable a ‘just do it’ environment and given that this is quite congruent with funding now finding it’s way into Norfolk and Suffolk – I will be putting my efforts into establishing a nexus for creativity in the area.  I’ll be talking about this a little more under the #culturebanking tag via the Gallery133 website and on social media for anyone interested… please share. This was the reason I came to Great Yarmouth in the first place!

The Arts Council has begun to wrestle with funding ‘for profit’ ventures – and this will most definitely be (in part) such a thing – so I aim to convince them of the potential and other potential sources of investment. I very much hope that What Next? will be instrumental in helping to develop the thriving creative economy that is so desired here and will certainly be feeding these challenges back into the network to see how our larger institutions and arts organisations can help (if they can)…

As ever, we had a very interesting and potentially useful meeting.

Here ends the GY What Next? (slightly erratic) Report for the first quarter of 2016!

Addendum: Alison Macfarlane offered these further comments as a helpful correction to my not entirely perfect summary of her input to this meeting. It is both helpful and descriptive of the challenges that exist in Yarmouth for ‘creative production’ in terms of its relationship with arts and other areas of finance, funding and investment.

“WCN is very interested to know about writers who form groupings in the Gt Yarmouth area for whatever purpose – mutual support, artistic collaborations, community workshops and schools work, for example. We are not in a position to offer any ‘paid assistance’ to the setting up of these groups or the ‘grass roots’ development work that they may do on a daily basis. However, we would be interested in working in partnership with them where there was a sharing of information and resources, where there was mutual benefit, where we could jointly address some of the needs identified in local cultural strategies in the area, where there was a quality offer and where there was funding support to deliver.”

See #culturebanking for an elaboration and development of Gallery133’s ongoing research into both art and civics and the process of establishing and growing a local creative economy which fosters and promotes wellbeing in the community. Gallery133 will be working with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the What Next? Movement to further these goals and posting ongoing notes. queries and developments here.

Liam Murphy

Gallery133 | What Next? | #culturebankingGY