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It’s been exactly one month since I handed in my MA dissertation and officially finished university… actually school overall… which means, to be more precise, the end of 17 years of my life!!! SEVEN-TEEN. You can imagine that I wished for this moment to happen over and over again, but now that it’s finally here, now that I’m an adult (!), now that I am absolutely free to set my life, I dread it! It’s so scary knowing that in September you don’t have something waiting for you, that no matter what, you know you’ll always have academia if everything else fails.

Employment is a sort of Pandora’s box, especially if your “broad” degree allows you to work in everything and anything but actually nothing. Which sector, which industry, what position, how qualified, full-time/part-time, freelance, taxes and a billion other dilemmas. The “good” part is that I’m not alone in the feeling…

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In one of my latest papers for the MA program I am on this year I looked at the connections between concepts of the experience economy and of the creative city.

As (surprisingly!!!!) the paper was very, very, very well received, I thought about sharing it as it might help other students (and ok… maybe other researchers too:)). Here is the introduction and following the link you can read the whole thing: essay.

“They will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” 

The economy and the city

The connection between the development of urban areas and the different stages of the local, regional or global economy has been constantly debated throughout they years (Scott, 2006; Jacobs, 1969; Kong and Conor, 2009). There is no doubt that the evolution of cities and that of the dynamics of economic production, labour and consumption can be overlapped during different periods of history, however, stating that one has led to the birth of the other can prove to be a very challenging argument. Jane Jacobs (1969) claimed that historically, cities have been the origin and engine of innovation and economic growth, on the other hand, Scott (2006:2) suggests that “the shifting fortunes of each individual urban area” depends highly on the shift in economic models and behaviours. To answer the question “which was first?” is impossible as “new ideas and new fields of economy are invented in cities” (Kong and Connor, 2009:208) but also, cities have been created and expanded due to the needs and demands of the economy different ages.

Combining the models of Toffler (1980) and Bell (1973), the world economy can be divided into a first, agrarian wave, based on agricultural practices, a second wave of mass produced goods and automised machines, followed by a post-industrial, third wave, focused mainly on the provision of services. Over the past 20 years, as new technologies have shown their power and due to significant changes in the financial capital and the amount of leisure time, concepts like the “knowledge economy” (in which the main currency is information; Bell, 1973), “the experience economy” (based on the value added by experiences to the consumption process; Pine and Gilmore, 1999) and the highly praised “creative economy” (in which creativity is the main factor of differentiation between products, companies or places; Pratt, 2008) have also been circulating. They could either be placed in the last, post-industrial wave or most likely, considered to have created a Forth Wave of their own in which they co-exist and overlap.

During each stage, cities have been the main arenas for the interaction between producers, consumers and all the other entities connected to the transactional processes. In Antiquity and Medieval times, they were the world’s communication knots and therefore its main markets, growing steadily to accommodate a variety of trades that answered the needs of those passing through (Hall, 2000). The nineteenth-century capitalism gave birth to the classical factory town, followed by the rise of the fordist mass production “associated with the growth and spread of the large industrial metropolis” (Scott, 2006:3). As “traditional manufacturing activities declined in the developed world” (Pratt, 2008:5) new styles of urbanisation have developed to create the perfect conditions in which new economies could flourish and to cater for a new work force.

The very popular concept of “creative city” (Landry, 2000) could be the perfect urban model associated with the development of knowledge, experience and creativity all together because it brings “the dimensions of economy, culture, and place back into a practical and humanly reasonable harmony” (Scott, 2006:15). As creativity and information are the base for the creative city (Cooke, 2008), this paper will focus on examining the extent to which “experiences” and other concepts associated with Pine and Gilmore’s (1999) description of the experience economy, are part of, or resources for, this type of urban environment.

Last year I wrote a paper for one of my university modules on the Creative Industries in strict regimes, focusing on Communist Romania. It’s definitely not the best piece of writing, not necessarily a mind-blowing piece and for most Romanians things will probably sound very familiar. However, here, in the UK, it was received extremely well (and yes, I got a nice mark for it) as many of my tutors and colleagues found it quite informative and interesting. Also, the introductory part as well as my literature review could prove quite useful for anyone wanting to define creativity, understand what limits it or encourages it, as well as find out what are ‘the creative industries’ and why they should be praised.

Hope you enjoy reading it: Creative Industries in Communist Romania

P.S. I am more than happy to comment on anything on the topic! Let me know what you think!

P.P.S The poster is form the Communism Museum in Prague

It’s been a while since I posted something valuable here but my MA, my super-active social/cultural life in London and all the travelling kept me quite busy.

To carry on from where I stopped before the holidays, here is the actual essay I wrote on arts-based learning. Please feel free to click on the document to read the entire 4000 words 🙂

The first publication of Oscar Wilde’s controversial novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, in 1890, led to an avalanche of outraged criticism due to the interpretation of its content as immoral by various Victorian critics who believed that art’s role was to educate. As a reply to the public’s reaction, Wilde rewrote some of the passages as well as added more chapters to justify his characters’ actions and to simplify the moral and philosophical messages. However, devoted to the aesthetic school of thought and therefore believing in the intrinsic values and the beauty of “art for art’s sake”, he also added a preface to the novel in which he defended the freedom of art by claiming that, as an object, it is “quite useless” because it is not meant “to instruct or to influence action in any way”, but simply to be admired and “create a mood” (Oscar Wilde, 1891:1).

In the practical, productivity oriented, industrialised world, “useless” is one of the most abominable adjectives as anything that serves no functional purpose is generally condemned by a society lost in the pursuit of capitalist value. Its association with “art”, leads therefore to the outcasting of works that have been created without a specific, practical aim and which form a field meant only to entertain through “beauty” by revealing its message to the educated viewer “but by concealing its artist” (Oscar Wilde) and especially the path to its production. However, despite the stereotypes circulating in the judgement of the twenty-first century, corporate driven world, in the “creation” of “a work of art” lies a lot more than simply scribbling words on a piece of paper, dipping a brush in coloured paint or playing an instrument. Complex thinking, planning, trial and error as well as continuous improvement through rehearsal are just a few steps of the artistic process, usually ignored even by the artists themselves, if the finalised piece fails to impress its audiences. All these could be easily deconstructed and successfully applied in a variety of other circumstances, like they have been, for example, in science, where figures such as Einstein, Feynman or Feigenbaum “have credited the arts as a source of their inspiration” (Root-Bernstein, 2000:61). The process of “making art”, rather than the works of art themselves, can help in the development of a variety of skills, feelings and thinking patterns which lead to the improvement of both the results of any daily action and the steps taken towards them.

To address the question of what exactly “art” can “teach” and what can be “learned” from it, a clear definition of what it stands for is required. Furthermore, in analysing the relationship between art and “managing”, the extensive meaning of the verb needs to be addressed as well because it can be applied to everyday life but also be associated with certain individuals within social or organisational structures. Last, but not least, to understand the extent to which the two can be linked, a discussion of what “better” management refers to and how art interacts with it is also mandatory as it can be the first step in giving directions and determining the outcomes of such collaborations.

And here is the rest: essay final

Any feedback will be highly appreciated!

 

A word cloud from my “Art of Management and Management of Art” module essay for this term.

It’s storytelling in its most majestic form: fairytales turned into stage productions with original music, amazing choreography, incredible talent and a dazzling capacity of making the audience completely forget they are still sitting in a theatre.  The 30 years old Cornwall based, worldwide travelling company is my idea of perfection!

I came across Kneehigh while performing on one of their scripts last summer (Tristan and Yseult) and from my first lines (a song in Hungarian 🙂 ) it was love at first sight! I was captured by their style, their courage and most of all the mind blowing references to so many symbols across all areas of arts and culture. Then, in September, I had the chance to finally see them live in London with their latests production: Wilde Bride

“In a stunning elemental world of dust, clay and fire here is a red hot story with a brutal edge and a beating heart…  The story of what happens when your father accidentally sells you to the Devil.

Betrayed by her father, our heroine has those ‘cross-road’ blues. She chooses to walk into the wilderness rejecting not only the Devil, but also her home and trusting heart as well. In the wilds she meets a Prince and becomes pregnant, but when he is called to war, her heart breaks as she finds herself at those pesky cross-roads again.

In the cool green of the forest, she brings up her child, and – wonder of wonders – her broken heart grows back. Perhaps this is happily ever after, perhaps there is even more joy to come…

This epic and poetic wondertale is classic Kneehigh stuff. Charting a life from child to adult, you can expect instinctive storytelling, devilish humour and a heady mix of live blues music and devilish humour. The Wild Bride is a grown up, spring bud, dustball of a romance for brave children and adults alike.”

And today, I just found out they are putting together a new show based on my favorite story ever – A Very Old Man with Enormous Wingsby Gabriel Garcia Marquez!!!  It’s on at The Little Angel Theatre, 14 Dagmar Passage, London N1 2DN between Sat 19th November – Sun 29th January! 

If you ever have the chance to go to any of their performances DO IT! You will definitely NOT regret it!!!

During my induction week at King’s College, back in September, we were given a short task in order to get used to the house style of writing essays. The question is very broad and there are a billion ways of approaching it, but apparently I did quite a good job so I thought about sharing my answer with the world. As this is my first essay in a long time (my BA was mainly fcused on research reports and media/PR portfolios) any feedback will be truly appreciated!

What is the value of culture?

In your answer you should clearly outline:

i) what you mean by ‘culture’;

ii) from whose (or which) perspective(s) you are primarily answering the question;

iii) relevant arguments or debates concerning the nature of ‘value’ and ‘valuing’; and

iv) what makes your approach to the question a valid response?

“In a time of global recession, international public spheres, virtual realities and online societies, defining “culture”, already famous for being “one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language” (Williams, 1983:87), and especially determining its “value” seems to still be creating many difficulties. This not only concerns scholars and practitioners but especially policy makers, who, above all, must govern the public funds which are directed towards this unknown “concept”. Although the tendencies of the moment are either to avoid the term by any means (Lewis, 1990) or simply assume that its definition is common sense for those involved in the conversation, “it is difficult to deal seriously with the subject of art (or culture) without saying what you mean by it” (Lewis, 1990:3). As “culture” is one of those “concepts (…) that we simply cannot do without, because it is used everywhere” (Willis, 2008:xxi), in my attempt of referring to the controversies around its “value” I will start by analysing previous research and discussions around the term itself in order to reach a definition that could be applicable in the field of public policy and funding.” 

Click here for the rest of it: The Value of Culture


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