Welcome to our book launch!

booksPerspectives and Narratives on Cultural Leadership
Book Launch – Presentations – Networking – Reception
Wednesday 22 June 2016 | 14:30 – 17:30
ARTS 56 – Avenue des Arts 56, 1000 Brussels

The books “Perspectives on Cultural Leadership” and “Narratives by Cultural Change Makers” are an anthology of research and essays and a collection of life and career stories by experienced cultural leaders representing one of the first public manifestations of The Fika Project.

We hope you can join us to hear more about The Fika Project and its plans, including the aim to launch a cultural leadership course for international change-makers.

The launch is also an opportunity to participate in Fika, a Swedish word for a work break with coffee/tea and something sweet to eat where surprising conversations, creative ideas and new collaborations can happen! You will also be able to buy the books at a reduced rate.

This event is organised in the framework of a Day of European Cultural Leadership in Brussels, that also includes the 6th Annual ENCATC Policy Debate (10.00–13.00). It will be an occasion to discuss cultural leadership development in a European context, from theoretical, contextual and pedagogical perspectives with the authors of this publication.

Both events are free and take place in the same venue, but you need to register asap (so we can order enough cakes). Places are available on a first-come-first-served basis.

Register now for free!

Order copies by sending an email to: nvdistro@natverkstan.net

Perspectives on Cultural Leadership: 20 € + shipping (5 € within Europe)

Narratives by Cultural Change Makers: 15 € + shipping (5 € within Europe)

Both 30 € + shipping

In Sweden: Order your copies on www.samladeskrifter.se

The Fika Project

Our project is moving forward and on June 22nd we would love to share our results with you at our launch in Brussels. More information will come soon! We have now changed the name of the project to The Fika Project. Below you can read why.

The Fika Project: Empowering Cultural Change Makers

What is it?

Fika is a social institution in Sweden. There has been evidence of the word fika for over a hundred years. It is a transposition of “kaffi” (a variation of the Swedish word for coffee). To fika means to take a break from work to have a coffee with colleagues. You may well have buns and cake along with your coffee. And a chat – a fika break is a great opportunity to discuss anything and everything.

In similar fashion, The Fika Cultural Leadership Programme offers you a chance to replenish your reserves, both physical and mental, and helps you to develop your work in a significant way. These are challenging times and The Fika Programme is about building leadership capacity to face these challenges.

How did it come about?

The Fika Project was developed in five steps:

  • An examination of the leadership CPD (Continuing Professional Development) needs of the cultural sector, focussing on Europe: summary on the project website: europeanculturalleadership.org;
  • A survey of existing cultural leadership training in different parts of the world: summary on europeanculturalleadership.org;
  • Narratives by Cultural Change Makers: international case studies of the professional lives of ten cultural leaders published in book form and made available on europeanculturalleadership.org;
  • Perspectives on Cultural Leadership: an anthology of research and essays published in book form and made available on europeanculturalleadership.org;

…and will finally result in:

  • The Fika Cultural Leadership Programme: an intensive residential and distance learning programme that invites cultural change makers across the world (particularly – though not exclusively – those operating at small scale) to take a break from their day-to-day responsibilities. Not just to drink coffee and eat cake, but also to meet colleagues and mentors, share experiences, learn from others, take the opportunity to reflect, access new networks and make new collaborations

Who did it?

We are the partners behind The Fika Project, which is supported by the EU Erasmus+ education and training programme and Region Västra Götaland in Sweden:

Karin Dalborg (Project Manager), Anna Johansen Fridén and Mikael Löfgren, Nätverkstan Kultur: independent cultural organisation based in Gothenburg, Sweden, providing education, financial and technical services, project management and consulting to the cultural sector: www.natverkstan.net.

Birgitta Persson, Trans Europe Halles: European-based network of cultural centres initiated by citizens and artists: www.teh.net.

Sue Kay and Annick Schramme, ENCATC: European network for cultural management and cultural policy education: www.encatc.org.

Sandy Fitzgerald and Paul Bogen, Olivearte Cultural Agency: providing wide-ranging support to the European arts and cultural sector: www.olivearte.com

Leadership development in the European cultural sector: paradigms, pedagogies and practices

ENCATC collaborative masterclass, Tuesday 22 March 2016, CIVA – Le Centre International pour la Ville, Brussels

I am sure you will recognise the date of this event for its significance as marking yet another atrocity, not just against innocent men, women and children but challenging our very humanity and how we care for ourselves on this planet. As news filtered through of the bombings, a decision had to be taken whether to proceed or to cancel. A decision was taken that if people turned up and wanted to go ahead, we would. Of the 60 registered participants, about 30 arrived and everyone felt it important to continue. This reaction, in itself, gave people an opportunity to share and support each other and to offer different perspectives on the tragic circumstances we found ourselves in. Indeed, the international and multicultural nature of our gathering spoke to ideals and aspirations that embrace interculturalism, learning and freedom of expression, values that gained in relevance, as the day went on.

The structure of the event saw four provocations in the morning from different perspectives on leadership: Dr Jon Price (Gray’s School of Art at Robert Gordon University, Scotland), Hatem Hassan Salama (Project Manager for Tansem Shami), Marjolein Verhallen and Pepijn Reeser (LinC project, Netherlands) and Dr Visnja Kisic (Creative Mentorship project, Serbia). The afternoon was then given over to interrogating issues that had been raised during the morning’s provocations but also within the context of the ‘The Fika Project’ initiative, which was presented to participants during this second phase of the programme.

Some of the main questions raised during the morning were interesting not only for their diversity but in their common approach to leadership, namely a non-hierarchical and collective based approach, rather then the traditional top-down, individualistic style. Jon posed the question of leaders as instigators, the people who act and then give permission for others to act. But, once the initial step is taken, what happens then? Who controls the resulting process? Hatem continued this line of inquiry by emphasising that the process is very important and should not be ignored or supressed by the tyranny of results and outcomes and that true leadership is much more a collaborative and participatory process. Marjolein and Pepijn pointed out the dichotomy between the collaborative process and what is often a very individualistic practice for the artist. Can this collective approach undermine the freedom of the individual? And is there a danger of blandness in the collective approach in what should be a very dynamic sector? Visnja raised the question of difference and how one model will not fit all circumstances. Different cultural histories and experiences need to be taken into account and it might be better to refer to an intercultural, rather than an international, approach.

The programme also featured ‘reflections from a critical friend’ Maureen Salmon, (Founder Director, Freshwaters Consultancy, London), who responded to the various interventions and gave insightful comments from an outsider’s perspective.

It is fair to say no definitive answers were found to the questions raised but, as was mentioned continually throughout the day, the process itself was illuminating and the discussions will continue, particularly in the context of the Fika Project, which has another event planned for June, where two books will be launched on this subject of cultural leadership.

It is worth finishing with the Fika Project vision statement, which was presented, as part of the afternoon programme:

Supporting leadership in the arts and cultural sector for change-makers internationally who are working to make the arts more relevant and creativity more central to people’s lives in the 21st Century, contributing to increased social and cultural democracy, empowerment and sustainable change.

There was a question from one of the participants as to whether this statement is too idealistic. Yes, it could be read as such but given the reality we are living in the world today and the terrible events taking place outside of the meeting hall on March 22nd, idealism may be needed now more then ever before. We have to be visionary, creative and dynamic, if we are to overcome this place of fear and darkness that we find ourselves in. As was said during the day, first steps have to be taken and we must support leadership that is attempting to take these steps. That was the unifying factor of all who participated in this collaborative master class and potentially there is a lot of strength and support available to future change-makers working for ‘increased social and cultural democracy, empowerment and sustainable change’ if Fika and other similar projects can be developed.

The text is written by Sandy Fitzgerald

Olivarte Cultural Agency, Project partner