Tag Archives: cultural

Oerol Festival day three, Friday 17 June 2022

I don’t think I have ever gotten up so early to see art. A ten-minute cycle to a dew-covered polder in the pre-dawn. We were handed a fleece blanket and some headphones and directed to some stools circling a triangular glass structure – a contrasting hard and urban intervention in the landscape. Inside the structure was Willen de Bruin a rapper and performer with a string of dutch hits under his belt. 

Spuug van God (Likeminds / Willem de Bruin)

Barely visible behind the glass in the half-light de Bruin, in a crisp pink suit and polo neck, stood on a slowly revolving turntable. His soft voice spoke to us through the headphones  – a very personal experience. The show was in Dutch – I pick up a few words but not enough to fully follow the story. It was an opportunity we don’t often get to hear the rhythm and sounds of another language over a sustained period. I can still hear him talking to me. Willem’s mother is Dutch and his father is from Surinam. The show is a solo performance about identity and about being a mixed-race boy and man from a remote Dutch village. De Bruin’s monologue is interspersed with his own music. As the sun rises, the three glass doors open in the box, as the show comes to a conclusion they close once more. There was something very special about this show even if I couldn’t understand all the nuances. It was an experience – a lovely experience. At 6 am, we returned to our hotel and went back to bed.  

By 10 am we had cycled away from the polder into the woods to see Human Time Tree Time by Klub Girko. We encountered two men balancing on a felled tree, itself balancing a tall stump. Essentially this was circus balancing but so much more than that. It involved intimacy, stillness, a bit of mischief, trust and a hell of a lot of skill. For me, this was the answer to the question asked yesterday: ‘When does a show about nature interfere too much with nature?’ This one didn’t – there was a discreet soundtrack from hidden speakers but otherwise, it was devoid of plastic, batteries or electricity – there was no set, other than the forest. They used found twigs and branches. Technologically it was timeless. The soundtrack was just about perfect, it supported the work. I can remember that it was there, but can’t remember what it was which I mean as a compliment. A fabulous experience – it was lovely. 

Human Time Tree Time (Klub Girko)

Back to base in West-Terschelling for discussions and lunch before we cycled to the centre of the island for drinks and some short performances from Station Noord, developing new talent and ideas. Dinner was at the festival’s backstage canteen which reveals just how big Oerol is. 

At 9 pm we cycled further east to another forest for our last show. Oroonoko by Orkater / De Nieuwkomers: UMA, an adaptation of one of the first novels written in English, by Aphra Behn published in 1688. The novel is an imagined back story of a man trapped in slavery in Surinam. Sung and spoken in English and Dutch (We were given an English script) this told the story and challenged us to reflect on the romanticised representation of an oppressed man as an African prince.

Oroonoko (Orkater / De Nieuwkomers: UMA)

This is a story from another age presented for the now by three female actors and a musician. The quality of the set did not live up to the performance – stark, white and flimsy. The costumes were an imaginative fusion between 1688 and 2022. The singing was great and the musician was incredible. The show opened and closed with a beautiful harmonised traditional version of The Magnificat for three female voices with a drum and bass soundtrack. The performers switched roles and broke the fourth wall to tell the tale as storytellers rather than characters. They were young, had swagger and really pulled it off. They are a young company and this is their first show having been nurtured by Oerol over the past three years. It was great. 

Yesterday, I was conflicted by issues around representation with Via Berlin’s portrait of ‘non-western looking Muslim refugees’ and the only black performer in a cast of 17 representing (bad) oil. Today I have seen two shows, Spruug van God and Oroonoko, with non-white performers presenting work that directly addressed how non-white people are and have been perceived and represented.

Finally, before the long cycle ride back to the hotel (about 20km into the wind!) a group of us headed even further east to see De Strecken by Mark van Vliet, a tidal installation on the mudflats. The installation is a tranquil place with long views during the low tide. During high tide, it is surrounded by water. It is described as a ‘sacred space’  and lives up to it. A beautiful place in the last of the mid-summer light to finish what was been a very special experience.

De Streken (Marc van Viliet)

Oerol Festival day two, Thursday 16 June, 2022

A hectic day. As I sit down to write, I find it hard to believe what I did this morning was only this morning. We formally met the other symposium delegates and then went off to see Acts of Citizenship by Via Berlin.

Acts of Citizenship (Via Berlin / Berlage Saxophone Quartet / University of Amsterdam)

This was a very problematic piece of work. I’m a bit torn here – because of the nature of the work, I am not supposed to reveal certain things, but there are issues with this performance that need to be addressed. It is a partnership between Via Berlin and sociologists from the University of Amsterdam who are conducting research with audiences as part of the show. The setting, the production values and the live music from the Berlage Saxophone Quartet were second to none. It starts with a premise that Belgium splits along language lines and the far-right take over Flanders forcing non-western heritage Flemish people to flee to the Netherlands as refugees. The show, presented from the Dutch side of the border, was very white and demonstrated an, at best, naive understanding of the issues it was trying to cover. It was in Dutch, and we were given a booklet explaining what was going on in English, but I don’t think we missed anything that would justify the portrayal of the refugees in the narrative. Dagmar Slagmolen, Via Berlin’s artistic director, came to talk to us over lunch. Despite concerns being alluded to, she didn’t seem to grasp the anxiety of some in the group. I have some ethical concerns, especially as they plan to tour the work without the research element. 

This island is stunning, especially in the sunshine. We’ve been cycling as a group from venue to venue. We went to see a sound installation called Soundings by Theun Mosk, a work in progress that will eventually become an installation across 75 km of Gronegan. For me, the experience was summed up by a question that was asked by one of the group later, possibly not even directed at this piece: ‘When does a show about nature interfere too much with nature?’

There has been a lot of discussion today as a group and amongst delegates. I’m looking forward to following up on conversations about touring small-scale Dutch performing arts to the UK and attending a storytelling showcase in Amsterdam.

Kaapdiegoeiekoop (Silbersee / Gouden Has / S;agwerk Den Haag / Consensus Vacalis)


Our last show tonight was Kaapdiegoeiekoop, a seventeen-handed opera about the exploitation of oil performed on the beach. Again, the backdrop was jaw-dropping, and the production values were superb. The setting was reminiscent of a show I saw a few short km away on the mainland in 2016 by PeerGroup called Grutte Pier. I am still processing tonight’s show. I felt a little uncomfortable that the only black performer portrayed oil. He was fantastic, his voice incredible and his movements as fluid as the black gold he personified, but… I think the show was over long but accept that I was not listening in a language I could fully follow.

Oerol Festival day one, Wednesday 15 June, 2022

Taxi to the airport at four this morning. There was a one-and-a-half-hour queue for security followed by a dash to catch a flight to Schiphol. Manchester Airport is awful. There is something about the Netherlands that removes the stress as soon as you touch Dutch soil. It is clean, polite, organised and fair. The staff at Schiphol smile and don’t bark at you – everything seems to work as it should. The train station is underneath the airport – on hand where you need it to be. An app tells you everything you need to know about times and platforms. Today on a comfortable two-hour trip to Leeuwarden, I joined a Zoom meeting using the train wifi, which worked. A change of train to Harlingen Haven, then a leisurely lunch in the sun as we awaited a ferry to Terschelling island. On Terschelling, hire bikes were waiting for us along with a van to take our luggage to our hotel. We arrived about twelve and a half hours after leaving home. We’d managed planes, trains, automobiles, ferries and Fietsen (bikes).

I’m here with the artist, Parvez Qadir, for the Site-specific theatre now: UK / IE / NL symposium, which is part of the Oerol Festival ‘22. A fantastic annual island take-over of the best location theatre from across the Netherlands and Europe. Culturapedia was invited along with about ten other UK organisations to take part. 


A quick freshen up and a cycle dash for introductory drinks, then dinner at the impressive festival staff canteen before being taken to a remote farm under the thousands of acres of sky covering the beguiling islands of the Friesan coast of the northern Netherlands. Our bikes rested with hundreds of others as we were led into a modern open working barn. Sheep were penned at one end, straw bales and agricultural clutter at the other. In the middle was a set and scaffolding and planks assembled into raked seating for 200+ people. (UK Health and Safety officers would have had kittens.) The show was called Exit by Circumstances / Piet Van Dycke. Four male dancers and six doors. I sat on my bit of plank; I’m sure there were far more people there than they panned for, transfixed for over an hour. Four ordinary-looking blokes (no offence) and a mixture of confusion, frustration, slapstick, ingenuity and shared challenge. Superb. I can’t believe that the rest of this Symposium can live up to that – but I hope it does.

Non-Profit or Non-Non-Profit

A large proportion of the arts community in England is currently awaiting Arts Council England’s NPO decisions. In this round there has been an increased emphasis on governance alongside a very welcome understanding of different forms of organisation.  I thought it a good time to look back on  a short paper that I wrote in 2016 for my Master’s in Cultural Economics

 

Profit or non-profit is a more complex question than it first appears. Leadership and the way that leaders valorise their values is just as, if not more, important than an organisation’s profit-making status.

Organisations as individuals

Without private means, benefactors or benefits, an individual usually works to earn funds that allow them to cover their essential costs and, hopefully, provide enough surplus to fund additional activity. For some this surplus is a challenge to obtain and for others, it may be substantial. Most individuals are not non-profit, even those who work for non-profit organisations. They earn a wage and use a proportion to cover costs and any surplus to fund items or activities that they personally choose to fund, (holidays, luxury items, entertainment, alms to the poor…). This choice is a means of helping an individual valorise their personal values. This applies to people who work for for-profit and non-profit organisations. An organisation, be it profit or non-profit strives to do the same. Again, some organisations generate a substantial surplus whilst others struggle. Any surplus generated by the organisation will be used to valorise the values of the organisation. This may take the form of re-investment, shareholder dividends or staff bonuses. They are subject to ‘the invisible hand of market forces’ (Smith, 1776. p.256).

Most individuals do not codify their values. They may not be conscious of having values but will still invest resources in valorising them. The same is true of organisations, especially smaller ones. Even when an organisation publishes its values they may not represent the true values that the organisation represents but the values that they would like the outside world to believe that the organisation represents. An individual’s values can be selfish, altruistic, both and anything else in between. So can those of an organisation. These values are what is important rather than an organisation’s profit-making status. 

The non-profit organisation.

My first job, after graduating with a degree, in Textile Design in 1988, was in the shop at a large museum and art gallery. The museum had been running a loss-making retail operation for years. In 1987 they commissioned Dame Hilary Blume of the Charities Advisory Trust to review the retail operations. Blume had recently published a book, The Museum Trading Handbook (Blume, 1987). Her proposal to the museum, which was accepted, was that The Charities Advisory Trust would take over the shops, in the form of a new trading company, and distance-manage them from London with a share of the profits going back to the museum and art gallery. The Charities Advisory Trust, which still exists, was established in 1979 with the aid of Government Funding. It is a charity and currently states its aim as, ‘We are dedicated to finding practical methods of redressing inequalities and injustice’ (Charities Advisory Trust, 2016). I saw an advert and applied. I was interviewed and appointed. It was not well paid but I felt lucky to have a job in such a fascinating place. It was not until the first day that the five of us appointed realised that we were walking into a very awkward situation. All the previous retail staff had been made redundant and we were their cheaper replacements. Their security, reception and curatorial friends in the museum were not pleased to see us.

Blume’s book seems to have disappeared without trace which is not surprising. We were given a copy on our first day. Even then I winced at the values that it represented. Blume advised museum managers not to employ staff who would get on with each other as they may gang up against authority. She insisted that staff should be paid the minimum possible and that they should be asked to do voluntary overtime whenever possible (Blume 1987). The leadership was remote and unsupportive. In line with the advice in the book, every effort was made to divide and rule the staff. Our perception at the time, which holds true on reflection, was that, although Blume was the founder and CEO of a charity, one that was designed to support other charities, her values were about personal achievement rather than social. Interviewed in 2013 she said ‘I’ve devoted my life to making money, but I don’t want to keep it. It’s a slightly different thing. From quite young, probably age eight, I was thinking up schemes for raising money. But you can’t wear two coats, can you?’ (Tomkins, 2013). Throughout the interview, she talks about winning and personal achievement. She represented what Maccoby would call a ‘Narcissistic Leader’ who can ‘…harbour the illusion that only circumstances or enemies block their success’ (Maccoby, 2000, p.2) The manifest values of this non-profit organisation reflected the values of the leader in charge. The organisation also used the supposed social aims of the charity to justify, what I regard to be, poor practices towards the management of important economic stakeholders – the staff. 

The non-non-profit making organisation

 Culturapedia was established in 2004 as Robinson Howell Partnership. In 2011 we undertook a values exercise with a values coach and rebranded the company. We had expanded and employed staff, we had developed more project work and were doing less consultancy. Losing our names from the name and brand was a positive step.

Culturapedia remains a private business. We chose this model purposefully, not because we sought profit but because we needed to be unencumbered by the bureaucracy of board management. To retain ownership of our values and freedom to move. By adopting a lean governance structure with two directors, we can respond rapidly to opportunities and challenges. ‘Change in organizations is pervasive because of the degree and rapidity of change in the external environment. The conditions in which organizations operate demand a response without which organizational demise is a frequent result’ (Cameron & Quinn, 2011, p.9).  Culturapedia is a profit-making business but profit is no more a motivator than if we were a non-profit business. We need enough surplus from projects to cover costs as does any organisation. We are freer not to take director remuneration if it is not available than the CEO of a non-profit would be.

Simple mechanisms can be put into place that safeguards funders. For example, Mailout was a project of the Mailout Trust. The trust, employed Culturapedia to deliver its services. For this Culturapedia received a fee and reported to the Mailout Trust board in the same way that an individual employee works to earn a fee or cover their costs. Culturapedia is upfront about these costs. They are no different, in principle, to the Mailout Trust employing a member of staff.  Arts Council England is admittedly unusual in that it is willing to provide funding to organisations that do not have a non-profit making governance structure. ‘ …[A]rts and cultural organisations need fresh approaches which enthral audiences and attract new sources of Income’ (Arts Council England, 2013).   Funding that comes from Arts Council England comes with caveats to all organisations The percentage that can be taken as fees, and what the funding can and cannot be spent on are normal constraints. As a non-non-profit making business, (I use this complex construct instead of ‘profit making’ as this term is loaded with assumptions as to the motives and values of the organisation), Culturapedia is bound to the rules in the same way as a non-profit making organisation.

Discussion and Conclusion

Why then do organisations choose the governance structures that they choose and why do they choose a non-profit model over others? There are three main reasons. The first is practical, it is perceived that it is easier to access funds if you are a non-profit. Culturapedia has proved that this is not the case. The second is about appearances and perceptions – in micro arts organisations with an unpaid board, the CEO usually manages the board and sets the real values of the organisation through practice. Thirdly, most organisations get established as non-profits because that is what everyone does. Alternatives do not get considered.

As to what next? Profit or non-profit is of less interest to me than the values and culture of the organisation we run, work with or work for. Culturapedia is free to adapt and change and is not bound by onerous governance structures, we can take it in whatever legal direction we choose. Our values are very important and are used to test ideas. They work because they reflect the personal values of the two directors or leaders of the organisation. The distinction between a non-profit organisation and a profit-making small arts organisation is academic. The most important thing is the organisational culture and the values of the leaders.

 

 

References

 

Arts Council England. (2013). Great Art and Culture For Everyone: 10-Year Strategic Framework 2010-2020. Second Edition. Manchester: Arts Council England.  

Blume, H. (1987). The Museum Trading Handbook. London: The Charities Advisory Trust

Maccoby, M. (2000, January-February). Narcissistic Leaders: The Incredible Pros, the Inevitable Cons. Harvard Business Review.

Smith, A. (1776). An Enquiry Into The Nature and Cases of the Wealth of Nations. Retrieved from http://www.ifaarchive.com/pdf/smith_-_an_inquiry_into_the_nature_and_causes_of_the_wealth_of_nations%5B1%5D.pdf

Tomkins, S. (2013, April). Dame Hilary Blume Interview: It’s a Gift. Reform Magazine. Retrieved form http://www.reform-magazine.co.uk/2013/03/its-a-gift

 

READ, READ, READ and ask WHY? WHY? WHY?

Yesterday was the first day proper of my Master year here in Rotterdam. Last year I successfully completed the Pre Master course which gave me a grounding in economics, social science research and statistics, amongst other things. Now the real work starts.

There are about sixty people in all, (it is hard to tell exactly as even the University is not one hundred percent sure who will turn up). About twenty of us did the Pre Master. We are the ones who know our way round, know most of the lecturers and how to use the EUR online services. We are the mostly European but span five continents. I am the only Brit.  I have included a list our home countries – sorry if I have missed anyone.

Where we are all from: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Czech Republic, China, Columbia, Ecuador, Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Korea, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Taiwan, UK, Vietnam

Last week we had an introduction day when we went to visit an artist’s studio and a creative industry hive around Marconiplein in the west of the city. There were drinks at the city farm and a departmental party at a club on the river. On Saturday Guus and Dennis, two friends from the Pre Master course last year, organised another party with the aim of helping the old PMs and newbies to get to know each other better.

We have a course Facebook group which is really useful in terms of keeping on top of things. I seem to have adopted the role of updating the literature we have to read. At least this means that I am sure of knowing what we are supposed to be doing.  

Yesterday was the first day proper.  We had two, three hour lectures. The first was lead by the Department’s Professor – Arjo Klamer. Arjo is something of a celebrity here in The Netherlands as a frequent commentator in the press and on TV. He was the world’s first professor of Cultural Economics and has been fulfilling the role at Erasmus University for as long as most of my fellow students have been alive. He is leading a course on Cultural Organisations which will be strongly influenced by his own research on values. Over the course of the next eight weeks we will complete a group project and a number of essays. Why we organise and why cultural organisations organise as they do is really interesting to me. It was partly the subject of my thesis last year. Let’s see if my thoughts chine with Professor Klamer’s.

Our second was on Cultural Economics with Dr. Erwin Dekker. We didn’t meet Dr. Dekker last year as he spent a postdoctoral year in the USA. This course aims to strongly link  economic theories to art and culture. This course will be structured as a whole group lecture one week and smaller seminar groups, of about 20 the next. I don’t claim to be a natural economist but am looking forward to getting a bit of a better grip of the concepts. I think Dr. Dekker’s approach will suit me down to the ground. We have a number of essays to do here – the first two due in two weeks.

Our third course this term will be on Cultural Entrepreneurship. We start on Thursday. Starting in October we will undertake a series of research workshops. More on those to follow.

Two themes seem to be emerging Professor Klamer told us that we should not be asking HOW? but WHY? WHY? WHY? Dr. Dekker told us that we should READ, READ, READ and WRITE. I’d better get on with it.

 

Back by popular demand

Or I soon will be. My first year in Rotterdam was fantastic – I’ve loved almost every minute. Sorry for my absence from your screens. I have been duly reprimanded and will endeavour to try harder.

After a Summer break, back in the UK, August turns and I start to think about coming back to Pancake Street. I’ll be sharpening my pencils and filling my fountain pen in readiness for the MA proper. At the end of June the results were in – confirming that I had cleared the hurdle of passing the Pre-Master year.

My Pre-Master thesis was on the relationship between CEOs and boards of arts organisations. I got a good grade but gratefully take on board the feedback that I made it a bit too complicated. This is great learning for next year when the thesis element will be twice as long and worth a third of the grades for the year.

20160606_181421Since I last tapped a key on this site I have also completed courses in Academic Writing, International Arts Markets and Advanced Economics of the Cultural Industries. I feel academically well equipped and a little nervous about the year to come. Most of my Pre-Master friends will be returning with another thirty five or so new faces who will be coming straight onto the Master year. Lots of new friends to make and new people to learn from. I can confidently say that I have learned as much, if not more, from my fellow students as I have from the formal lectures and assignments – that is how Universities should be.

I will be flying back to Rotterdam in about ten days time. Sue is coming back with me for the weekend and I’ve got a few days to re-orientate myself before the learning begins in earnest. I fear that my limited Dutch has rusted over during the Summer and I will be a lot poorer as the pound has plummeted against the Euro but I look forward to settling back into life on Pancake Street.

Study

I’m very sorry, I’ve been far too quiet since I got here. I’ve been working hard.

I thought you’d like to know what I’ve been doing at university and how it’s going. We’re four weeks in, half way through term one. Erasmus University, (EUR), has four terms a year of eight weeks each. This term we have three courses. They are:

  1. Introduction to Economic Theory
  2. Introduction to Social Science Research
  3. Creative Economy and Creative Organisations

For Introduction to Economic Theory we have a three hour seminar each week and are ploughing through the weighty Krugman and Wells textbook. (there was some confusion over our text book). As I’ve said before I’ve done quite a bit of pre reading on economics but have concentrated on the different views and schools – who thinks what etc. Then weighty Krugman and Wells book is more technical. So far I’ve not come across a single reference to another economist. I’ve spent most of my time looking at supply and demand graphs and variants thereof. It’s not the most exciting book but I can see the logic of us going through it. Our lecturer, Paul helps bring it to together and valiantly tries to find cultural examples. Today we’ve been given out midterm assignment. I’ve got to prepare four arguments for a politician who is going to enter a debate arguing against public subsidy for the arts. A very interesting position for me to take given that my income over most of the past twenty odd years has come from public arts funding.  There will be an exam at the end of the course.

Introduction to Social Science Research is taught a bit differently. We are doing this course with a range of other students. Most of them are BA students in International media. We have another American textbook by Earl Babbie. We have weekly two hour lectures with Marc who does his best to animate what could otherwise be really tedious to what is a big audience. We’ve started to sit at the front to avoid the bachelor chit chat. We also have a three hour tutorial with Aldo – a charismatic Brazilian who has rapidly become all our favorite. He uses his own research to help us relate the general course to our area of interest. Last week we submitted part 1 of a three part assignment. In pairs, we’ve been developing research questions. Simone and I are looking at the differences and similarities between cinema and theatre audiences. Part 2 involve designing a quantitative survey and Part 3 some qualitative interview questions. There will also be an exam at the end of this course.

Thirdly we have Creative Economy and Creative Organisations. In a lot of ways this is the most interesting. We don’t have a set text book but are given three chapters or articles to read each week. We’re also encouraged to read around. We’ve been looking at things like creative motivation, organization and definitions. We are working with students who are doing electives or exchanges from other universities. We don’t have an exam in this course – phew! We are working on a ‘class assignment’ in groups. Our group are a fictional vlog, creatively reviewing content on Netflix. Each week we’re given questions to answer through the filter of our organisation. For our midterm assignment we’ve been given a range of statements. We need to choose two and argue for or against them using the set texts and additional reading where appropriate. We’ve only got a week to do this so I’d better get on with it.

My desk awaiting my creative input

My desk awaiting my creative input

The whole course is taught in English, I couldn’t be doing it otherwise. I’m really lucky, most of my fellow students are studying in their second languages. The disadvantage of this is that a lot of the texts we are get are written in and about the UK. I’m hoping that as time goes on I will get to learn more about the rest of the world. The course comes from a western perspective and I expected that but, at the risk of sounding arrogant, I’ve a lot of experience of the UK cultural scene.

I’m actually really enjoying it all at the moment. There is a lot of reading and some of it is either challenging, tedious or even badly written. I’m finding my way through and starting to make the connections between the courses. I’m enjoying someone else making my organisational arrangements: be in this lecture at 11:00; read that chapter by Wednesday; submit your assignment on line by the 7th… I’m working hard but keeping up and learning.

Enrolled and official

I’m going to Rotterdam to study and to learn.  Yesterday, my status at the University changed from ‘accepted to ‘enrolled’ . I am officially a student again. As the start time gets closer I get more and more nervous. Erasmus University in Rotterdam is a proper university. According to the Times World University Rankings it comes in at 72. It is only beaten by about half a dozen UK universities that I would never dream of applying to. I’m just a boy with a mediocre vocational design BA from a former Polytechnic. I can’t even find my alma mater in the rankings. The course that I am going to do is ranked second in the world for  “Arts and Cultural Management” according to www.best-masters.com.  This is serious stuff.20150717_121557_001

I’ve got a lot of experience in cultural management. I’ve been doing it for years but the academic rigour is going to be a challenge. It’s no good just knowing something. You need to know why and how. You also need to back it up with research and evidence. I will also need to get into the habit of academic writing. The thing I’m least looking forward to is all the reading. I want to learn, I want to gain the knowledge but I also know that some of the texts I need to absorb will be rather dry and not well written from a readers point of view.

Erasmus University, (EUR), is not ivy covered. It’s not actually very old. In University terms it’s just a baby having been formed a mere 102 year ago in 1913 as the Netherlands School of Commerce. It’s occupied its present site since 1973. As with the rest of Rotterdam there is a lot of concrete. There is also a major building programme going on with twenty first century architecture springing up along the new University Plaza. There is a separate Medical Centre and Erasmus University College, (across the road from my flat on Pannekoekstraat), in the city centre but the main Woudenstein campus on the edge of Kralingen is where I’ll be based. It’s about a fifteen minute cycle or short tram ride away.  EUR has about 21,000 students of which about a quarter are international. Its alumni include nobel prize winners and Dutch Prime Ministers.

I’m still waiting for my timetable. It would be handy to have it soon so that I can book flights back to the UK when they are cheapest. It looks like things are well organised and that all lectures are condensed into half a week. There are four terms and the timetable changes for each one. For the past two years Term One contact time, (lectures, seminars and work groups), has started as midday on a Tuesday and finished at midday on a Thursday.  British universities seem to start in October and finish at the end of November for Christmas.  EUR lectures start on August 31 and don’t finish ’till December 18.  My first exams will be at the end of Term One in November.

If you’re interested this is what I’ll be studying in my first year:

Study schedule per term

Term Courses
Term 1 Introduction to Economic Theory
Creative Economy and Creative Organizations
Introduction to Social Science Research
Term 2 Economic Geography of Creativity and Urban Development
Values of Culture
Introduction to Statistical Analysis
Term 3 International Art Markets
Academic writing 
Bachelor’s Thesis Class (gr. 4-E or 5-E) (4 weeks)
Term 4
Advanced Economic Aspects of Cultural Industries
Bachelor’s Thesis Class (continuing from term 3)
Bachelor’s Thesis

Hello world!

We are living in interesting times. We were all surprised by the UK election result last week which goes to show us that the future can not be predicted with ease. At Culturapedia we know that change is good and that we need to be in a continuous state of evolution. We like this – one of our core values is that we love adventures.

With all this in mind, I have decided to do something dramatic. I am going to go and do an MA in Cultural Economics and Entrepreneurship at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. I will continue to be a director of Culturapedia. I will continue to work on the business but I won’t be around quite as much as I have been. Instead I will be opening the Rotterdam Office.

Why go to Rotterdam? There are a whole host of reasons but most importantly is offers a course that is both highly relevant to what we do that I am really interested in. This is an international course, taught in English, that attracts students from all over the world. A German friend of ours is always reminding us that we are ‘little islanders’, sitting off the coast of Europe thinking we know best. I want to learn how things are done elsewhere. There is another pragmatic reason – as an EU Citizen I will benefit from considerably lower tuition fees than I could find in the UK. I also want the adventure of living abroad, living in the centre of a big city and the chance to (try and) learn a new language.

Rotterdam is surprisingly close. Just a short flight from Manchester or Liverpool to Schiphol airport then a 25 minute train ride into the centre of Rotterdam. Even with all the airport hassle we have to go through I can do home to the centre of Rotterdam in 4 hours. I will be coming home frequently and my wife, Sue will be coming over to visit the Netherlands just as much.

The course will start in September. I will need to make a couple of trips before hand to sort things out. I am buying a flat and plan to write this blog on my experiences. There will be lots to write about. Rotterdam is full of art, culture, brutal and contemporary architecture. It’s multicultural and lively. It’s one of the world’s largest ports and a land gateway to the rest of Europe.