Abandon Normal Devices 29th August – 2nd September

I’ll be speaking at a salon event at this festival of new cinema, digital culture and art on Saturday 1st September.  Also speaking will be Jennifer M Jones, the coordinator for #media2012, a national-wide citizen media network for London 2012.  We’re contributing to Salon #3 ‘Too big to fail?’, a debate on the costs of hosting a successful Olympics .

You can read much more about AND from their excellent website, from which you can also download the programme for the whole festival.  In the text below, the organisers explain what they are all about:

Abandon Normal Devices (AND) is an energetic regional festival of new cinema, digital culture and art. The festival takes place annually in Liverpool and Manchester on alternate years, with an extended regional programme.

Our mission is to push the boundaries of audience experience through a programme that spills out of galleries and screens into the streets of the Northwest.

With a curatorial attitude of participation and innovation, AND has enabled collaborations across the UK’s pioneering digital, science, design and media sectors.

The Sinha Games

Last night I was on BBC Radio 4‘s ‘The Sinha Games’, presented by comedian Paul Sinha.  This half hour show took an amusing, and broadly positive, look at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and you can listen to it via the BBC iPlayer by clicking the image below:

Click on the image to listen to the show on BBC iPlayer

BBC News Olympic legacy debate with Ian Sinclair

Last night I was invited to take part in a debate on the BBC News Channel about the legacy of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.  You can watch the video below:

 

London 2012: Good value for money

I’m going to be on the BBC News tonight, at some point around 9pm, debating the legacy of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games with Ian Sinclair, who has had a great deal to say about the negative impacts of the Olympics in East London.  I take the view that 2012 is making a hugely significant contribution to the development of the city and that its impacts are, broadly speaking, positive, even if it may be many years before they are fully felt.  I wrote about this in my blog for the Metro newspaper recently and I’ve copied the article below…

At a time when the Government is regularly criticized for cutting spending and not investing in big projects to get the economy moving, why are people so angry about the billions being spent on the Olympics?

Ever since the Government first announced its intentions to cut public spending on a scale scarcely anyone had thought possible, the cry from the opposition and campaigners has been for the government to spend.

These cries make good sense; invest now in big infrastructure projects, create jobs in construction and manufacturing, prop up areas suffering worst from the effects of the economic crisis.

The F10 bridge with construction workers from the Aquatics Centre forming a giant number 2 to signify two years until the start of London 2012 Olympic Games (Getty)

Another set of demands; invest in sustainable development, in young people, in culture and sport, and invest in long-term projects that leave a lasting legacy.

The money that has been spent on the development of the Olympic Park in Stratford meets these criteria and should be seen as the one shining example of where this otherwise spendthrift government is doing exactly what its critics says it should: spending big.

Celebrate the fact that the government is actually spending some money where it is needed

The total cost to the taxpayer of staging the Olympics will probably end up somewhere between 12-15billion. That money has been spent over seven years and hasn’t really been affected by the public spending cuts.

That money has directly created thousands of jobs and, indirectly, tens of thousands more. The excuse of a few weeks of sport has allowed successive governments to transform the fortunes of a part of east London that has suffered from multiple deprivations for a generation.

Infrastructure developments on this scale always leave victims. If it were possible to create projects that didn’t involve forced evictions, that didn’t create opportunities for a sometimes greedy private sector and that didn’t cause political controversy, then someone would have worked that out by now.  But whether it’s a bridge, an airport, a bypass, a conference centre or a mega-event, investments of global significance can never be politically neutral.

It is the job of governments to make the case for their spending and to satisfy the public that they really will benefit from it. Successive governments haven’t won that argument.

But we pay taxes every day for services and projects that some of us will never use like schools, pensions, social services and defense. Add the Olympics to that list, think about the benefits that it can deliver, and celebrate the fact that the government is actually spending some money where it is needed.

Don’t wait for the state…

This is a short blog post that I’ve written for the Crossovers blog, that we’ve been developing to help stimulate some debate before the Crossovers event on 19th September, which I’ll blog about later in the week.  The post is based loosely on a chapter that I’ve written for the new Routledge Handbook of Cultural Tourism, which is being published in January 2013, and it is about the future of cultural regeneration.

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As public funding for both culture and tourism continues to shrink, and with the private sector feeling the effect of an extended period of economic gloom, it is easy to think that the long boom in cultural regeneration is over.  For two decades and more, cities and towns in Europe have been through cultural regeneration schemes of one sort or another, often focussed on high-profile, expensive new cultural icons.

 have cultural producers have bought into the cultural regeneration rhetoric?

The success stories that our attention is usually directed towards include Bilbao, Newcastle / Gateshead, Lille, Glasgow – cities that have used flagship cultural developments to help them grow their economies in response to decades of industrial change.

Right now, everywhere in Europe is facing the kinds of economic challenges that the regeneration schemes of the long boom were designed to tackle.  What role can the cultural sector play in meeting these challenges and who is going to pay for it?

We’ve heard for years how the cultural element of regeneration helps to promote things like community cohesion and sense of place, how it can address low aspirations and create new kinds of employment and educational opportunities, especially for young people, and how it can be used to re-brand and promote areas that are in need of investment, often through attracting high-spending cultural tourists.

What will be put to the test now is not whether civil servants and regeneration bureaucracies believe in the power of culture to achieve these things, or whether private sector investors understand the role of culture in attracting employers and employees to an area, but whether cultural producers have bought into the cultural regeneration rhetoric as much as policy-makers and funding bodies.

 is this the new model for cultural regeneration?

In Stokes Croft in Bristol, local activists and artists came together to improve and promote their neighbourhood, from the bottom up.  This meant working at street level with residents and visitors and not waiting for the state to step in with grants or the private sector to open a new shopping centre to attract tourists.  Stokes Croft designated itself as Bristol’s cultural quarter and over time has become known as a cultural tourist destination famous for its vibrant street-art scene and its energetic DIY culture.  Sometimes this brought it into conflict with the local authority; the recent protests against the opening of a Tesco in the area are a testament to its continuing anti-establishment stance.

What has happened in Stokes Croft show us that the positive impacts of cultural regeneration can be achieved by cultural producers, activists and others working together as a community, without the need for masterplans, grants, public-private partnerships or consultants.    We’ve seen this approach being taken in cities across the world from Berlin to London to New York, but historically the developers move in and start buying things up once an area becomes ‘successful’.

Now the developers are keeping their hand in their pockets, is this the new model for cultural regeneration?

Blogging for the Metro Newspaper on the 2012 Olympics

Over the next few months, I’m going to be blogging for the Metro Newspaper about the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.  I’m going to concentrate on the non-sporting aspects of the Olympics, as I’m no sporting expert, and I’ll have a focus on issues surrounding the impacts of the Games, economically, socially and culturally.  You can click on the image below to see my most recent posts.

A Sporting Chance: the legacies of mega-events for post-industrial British cities

I’ll be contributing to this event at the end of May….

The City Of Manchester stadium, a legacy of the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Now renamed as the Etihad Stadium and home to Manchester City football club.

 

A Sporting Chance: the legacies of mega-events for post-industrial British cities

 23rd and 24th May 2012

Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC), University of Manchester

Comparing the city of Manchester, ten years after it hosted the Commonwealth Games, with London – host to the Olympic Games in 2012, this two day workshop invites critical inter-disciplinary discussion and evaluation of the legacies of sporting mega-events for post-industrial British cities.

The workshop is funded by the new Urban Experiments research theme at CRESC  and brings together twelve academics whose research is concerned, in various ways, with exploring the socio-economic, political and material transformations brought about by post-industrialisation and/or sporting mega events billed as catalysts for urban regeneration.

Speakers include:

Mike Raco, Professor of Urban and Regional Governance, The Bartlett School of Planning, UCL, London.

Dr Adam Brown, Director and founder member of Substance research cooperative, Manchester

Professor John Gold, Department of History, Philosophy and Religion – Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Oxford Brookes University.

Professor John Horne, Professor of Sport and Sociology, University of Central Lancashire

Dr Larissa Davies, Senior Research Fellow Sport Industry Research Centre Sheffield Hallam University

Dr. Andrew Smith, School of Architecture and the Built Environment, University of Westminster

James Kennell, Director Economic Development Resource Centre, University of Greenwich Business School.

Camilla Lewis, PhD candidate, Social Anthropology, University of Manchester

Beth Carley, PhD candidate, Cathy Marsh Centre for Survey and Social Research, University of Manchester

Gillian Evans, RCUK Research Fellow, CRESC, University of Manchester

Allan Cochrane, Professor of Urban Studies, Social Sciences, Open University

For more information and to reserve a place contact K.D.ho@open.ac.uk

Further Education and Local Economic Development

This is a presentation that I gave last week at the annual Teaching and Learning Conference at Thanet College in Kent, UK.

In my talk, I explored some of the language currently being used by the Government and by OFSTED when they make links between further education and local economic development.  As with much current policy rhetoric in the UK, there are a number of ambiguities in the Government’s views about the future role of FE in local economies and I picked out a couple of these as a way of encouraging the College to think about how it could start to set its own agenda for achieving an ‘excellent’ OFSTED assessment.  In particular, I noted how the culture-led regeneration of Margate and the new Enterprise Zone for East Kent show that the future of local skills development will be in the knowledge economy, meaning that across all areas of the curriculum, teaching and learning should be developing students’ creativity, collaborative skills and flexibility.

I spent half the day at Thanet College and it was a great insight into the current state of Further Education – I learnt a lot from some brief conversations with colleagues there and heard about some fantastic work that is being done.  In particular, it was exciting to hear about how a shift to a student-led, creative curriculum in one subject area had dramatically improved student retention and achievement.

 

Event: The tourism legacy of the 2012 Olympic Park – 8th December 2011

I’ll be giving a talk at the University of Greenwich on 8th December 2011, on the tourism legacy of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.  The talk will be part of an Olympic Park Legacy Company event that we’re hosting at Greenwich and also speaking will be Clive Little, the new Director of Events and Programming from the OPLC, Kevin Millington , Director of Acorn Tourism Consulting and Tracy Halliwell, Director of Business Tourism and Major Events at London and Partners, the body who have replaced Visit London.
The Olympic Park in Legacy mode

The presentation I gave at this event is below:

Beyond angels, elephants, good intentions and red-nose rebellion

Ixia , the public art think tank, have produced some great stuff on public art, and this event has the best name I’ve come across for an event in a long time. On top of all that, it’s free!