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Big Picture Issues
Supporting a Healthy Ecosystem of the Arts and Culture
Whilst there is plenty of talk about the desirability of having a healthy arts and culture sector in the UK, in practice most decisions are about supporting individual organisations and/or art forms rather than how to promote the health of the whole. This work draws on the metaphor of an 'ecology' of the arts to explore the sector as a complex, dynamic, ever-changing system. Thinking about an ecology of the arts also offers a frame in which certain topics become less easy to evade - the nature of growth beyond simple quantitative expansion, the role of death and decay in the life cycle, the motivating purpose of a naturally evolving system. It is anticipated that an exploration of the sector from the perspective of a healthy, living ecology will yield new substantive insights for the practice of arts organisations and those who seek to support them, new language with which to communicate the real complexity of the sector to others, and a new map of this complex landscape that will benefit policy-makers everywhere and the quality of the continuing discussion in this area.
Mission Models Money - creating a more sustainable arts and cultural sector. Click here for their website. Initial research has been supported by NESTA and Arts Council England and latterly by Scottish Arts Council.
Last updated: 8 Jul 2013
The initial exploration of this area was launched in September 2006 - leading to a full day workshop in Bristol in mid-November. There was a further presentation of the ideas and concepts emerging from the work at a workshop held at NESTA in London in May 2007. The preparatory think piece for that workshop has been published separately and is available for download below: Homo Poeticus and the Art of Culture by Bill Sharpe. A companion piece on The Economy of Art was published in March 2008 - also available for download below. Since March 2008 the project has evolved into a wider theoretical inquiry into the nature of economics, with a narrower practical focus on Watershed Media Centre in Bristol as an example of a healthy creative ecosystem. This work is now pursued as a separate project under the title Economies of Life. Further information (and publications for download) can be found on that project page. In addition, Producing the Future: Understanding Watershed's Role in Ecosystems of Cultural Innovation can also be downloaded below.
Documents for download
Click on the documents below to download them to your hard disk.
Homo Poeticus and the Art of Culture
Working paper prepared for a workshop in May 2007 exploring some of the core ideas and foundational concepts that might underpin the notion of an 'ecology of the arts'.
Date: 06 Nov 2007 Size: 203kB
Producing the Future: understanding Watershed's role in ecosystems of cultural innovation
A short report exploring how the ideas in Bill Sharpe's set of essays 'Economies of Life: patterns of health and wealth' resonate with the creative practice of Watershed Media Centre in Bristol, UK and will help to extend and develop their conscious cultural innovation. The report also includes a chapter on how policy might better support such work and help to sustain innovation in the arts and cultural sector.
Date: 26 Jun 2010 Size: 2.0MB
The Economy of Art
A companion piece to 'Homo Poeticus and the Art of Culture' unpicking notions of 'value', 'property' and 'economy' in a wider, systemic context.
Date: 11 Sep 2008 Size: 92kB