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Ferdinand Richard speaches / International Symposium / Taiwan

Ferdinand Richard speaches / International Symposium / Taiwan

mars 2003

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Ferdinand Richard
A.D.A.T Taiwan 14/17 mars 2003
Abstract/outline for the panel discussion :
"Making the most of ressources and alliances"

Of course, everything written here has got its source from the point of view of popular musics development in Europe, and should not be understood as an universal model. Things could be quite different (not to say contradictory) in other fields, other artistic disciplines, other territories...
I would like also to point out that my aim is to define a coherent public sector attitude towards the music field. If we have to deal only with musical industrial products, we should let the market regulate the flow of those products. But if we admit that there will be some public spending in the music field, we must ask ourselves at which level this public expense is legitimate.

Ressources are not static.
On the contrary of basic primary ressources, cultural ressources (and musical ressources) are in a constant change. Moreover, one could never succeed to predict where and when new musical ressources will occur. It is not a scientificmatter.
Further on, we do not refrain our acceptance of the subject to a unique short-seeing exploitation of raw material. If we are good administrators (public or private), our aim is also to secure the constant flow of such ressources.
In order to secure the access to ressources, two principles seem inseparable : development and innovation.
For me this leads with no doubts to admit the necessity of a two-dimension attitude :

1) the permanence on the field (direct contacts, openness, etc...).
When we speak about cultural ressources, we do not speak about a mesurable amount of static goods such as oil, or coton. They are very short limits to a scientific process of a rationnal gestion of these goods. The pragmatic long-term expertise should be chosen first, and a scientific approach should be necessary at the time of evaluation, not necessarely before.
But such a permanence demands a professionnal ability, competence, skills. Most of management courses on this field are not adapted to this talent-scout watching, or development-process anticipation.
It induces therefore that training for this kind of job cannot be understood as a strictly technical/scientific training. Long term strategies, slow development anticipation, network attitude, global and local interactions understanding, pushing creators to new esthetics (new products) and new design, all those items are basics in the culture-manager toolbox, even more, eventually, than classic skills of gestion, P&R, which are reduced, in this specific case, to passive skills. Eventhough they are necessary, they are far from being enough.
2) the permanent evaluation of the ressources, and of their "exploitation" process. (therefore the acceptation that the concept of ressources is constantly changing, that new ressources are always coming from unexpected areas,at unexpected moments, etc...). It is obvious, in Europe, that such an evaluation was roughly restricted to the circulation/diffusion of goods (weither recorded materials, live acts, etc...). Very few has been done with evaluation in the perspective of R and D, in a global development process.
To my point of view, no public money should be spent on a "one-shot" payement without the validation through some "mid-way" evaluation steps, and this should be integrated since the beginning of the action.

Alliances are an endless ear-marking. Years after you have split from an ideology , a philosophy, an attitude, a group of companions, you still carry the colours of this former alliance.
They must be therefore very carefully decided.

In my country the entire concept of alliance is presently in a total change because of some institutionnal global evolution : decentralisation.
In a former situation, excellence and orientations were state-controlled concepts. Therefore, any culture activist, weather artist or operator, would have to organise a pyramidal, hierarchical startegy of lobbying, in order to reach the top, where sensible ressources (informations, fundings) were located.
Some three or four years ago, an historical change occured. The majority of the total amount of money allocated to culture came from local and regional authorities, and the Ministery of Culture and other State administrations became the minority in Culture funding. This was a double consequence of decentralisation policy at the government level, re-inforced (not to say imposed) by the rising-up of european building.
Since the objectives of those two different institutionnal fields are slightly different, they commissionned culture activists in a different way.
- It is today very interesting to see who are the culture activists who succeed in following these changes. They are not necessarely the expected ones. Big institutions leaders have sometimes difficulties to understand the new rules, and above all, the new targets, the new aims. They cannot adapt to this new context which is europeanisation (and beyond, globalisation), they see it only as a threat, since they grew up under the protection bubble created by the Ministery of Culture, something that they used to see as the ultimate step in the hierarchy of the culture power. (remember that the Ministery of Culture, although one of the poorest ministeries in France, is always very desired by many politicians, because of its communication abilities...). It allowed them first to contribute to the creation of excellence, but gradually it switched to the creation of clans, in which creation and artistic excellence was replaced by positions of power. It is a classic to see in such a situation that the most successful persons are not necessarily the most valuable ones. A society cannot leave on long terms with such leadership, because when global context changes, those leaders are most of the time too weak to adapt.
- On the contrary, multi-disciplinary and integrated-development activists (those who organise on a complete chain of development, from a to z), present more easyness to understand the new game, to play it with local powers, eventhough they might not be strictly culture decision makers, but also coming from the economic (or educational, or tourism, or youth etc...) sector. They create completely new types of alliances, more directly profitable, but also more loose on long term artistic quality, which is probably their weakest point. The rule for such kinds of activists is to keep the balance between this immediate profit, short circuit situation, and the long-term gestion of cultural ressources. At the same time they are in close contact with political reality, they are in close contact with emerging young esthetics. This is their duty, and probably their pride if they succeed.
The only danger is when they become single players, and begin to monopolise the front stage. It is then the duty of the decision maker to add other operators to this panel in order to diversify and enrich the way his actions are understood by his electoral constituancy, and still stay in tune with his announced intentions.

- I do believe therefore that the alliances issue must be dealt in the frame of a balanced relationship between private and public sectors, between local, national, and global interests. This ability to keep balance between these two types of alliances is actually the sign for an healthy organisation/enterprise. It should be placed at the heart of the company leader skills.
But once again, this competence is something which is never ever tought (or even considered) in culture management training.

Ferdinand RICHARD
A.D.A.T. TAIWAN mars 2003
Eléments d’intervention. Elements for speaches.
Tendances Internationales (international perspectives)

Currently, it seems that we face two opposite dynamics, generaly speaking but also on the cultural field :

- 1) the most visible is globalisation, and it is bound to economics :
- Centre is ruling the peripheries, but we have to be aware that what is presented as globalisation today is only one type of globalisation, a pyramidal economical exchange system, going from the top to the bottom, and barely reverse.. In no case it is today a multi-lateral type of exchange : there is nearly no direct culture economical exchanges between Taiwan and France for example. Most of it has to follow the long up-and-down route, and to format to one model of exploitation (even though the external image is supposed to change constantly for P&R reasons, the content, the manufacturing, the process, the sizes, have to be formated for an optimisation of the exploitation.).
The green light on production and starting-up process is given by exclusively-financial interests, which of course impose their own timing : short turn-over, maximum benefit, fewer consideration for long term good governance of natural ressources (including intellectual ressources).
As a predictable consequence, quality is expensive, also in the art field. Excellence in this domain is restricted to people who can afford it, including at the level of learning. It might be paradoxal, but elitism is the direct witness of money-making. Esthetic parameters are under the law of a few (rich) people, who know what is beautiful, and what is ugly. Everything rare and expensive is considered beautiful, "de facto".

- 2) the less visible but rising factor is culture diversity, and it is bound to politics :
- Peripheries become small centers.
As a consequence (or a counter-balance) of the preceeding, more and more citizen are afraid to lose their identity in a mono-colour system. It is a pervert effect of the multiplication of one-way communication channels, also of NTIC. TV/Internet consumers have the feeling that they will never be clever enough to invent something cultural that would match what they see on their screen. Therefore, they feel they have no more identity, so to say, they are afraid to loose the memory of their heritage, their ancesters, the are afraid to become unable to produce themselves some items which may become pieces of heritage.
This fear (legitimate or not) is exploited by ultra-nationalism or ultra-religious movements, but it seems also a very sensible and urgent focus for politicians, specially local, since they want to be re-elected by their citizens. All the actual tendencies to globalise such or such territory (such as European Union, for example) generates this kind of reaction.
In my country, for example, we had in the past centuries a national tendency to harmonise the concept of nation. The Nation had to fight any kind of local particularism, any vernacular language (breton/west-France language was forbidden in primary schools, etc...) to make one model of french citizen instead an uncontrolable mozaic of different people. Such a process has been seen in many other areas of the Globe, with extremely variable fortunes. Any of those avatars had (and still have) their own translation in popular music, including in the worst ethnic/religious massacres which took place in the last decade (Rwanda, Ex-Jugoslavia).`
Today, it came to such an extend that we can see the effects of a reverse tendancy. It is now the rising of mixed local cultures, as a shock-absorber towards monolithic nationalisms.
Excellence must be generalised at the ordinary citizen level, in order to present a collective high profile from the "regional" point of view, a strongly educated, autonomous, enterprising community...
Esthetic is justified by policy and social obligations. What is usefull for the community, or at the heart of its characteristics, is considered beautiful...
...and it represents new market opportunities, new commercial networks, at a lower stage than the global economy, on a multi-lateral trans-regional equal basis. The interesting perspective will come when all those new "local" or "grand regional" commercial networks will seriously tend to connect together on a global scale : will the actual pyramidal "globalisation" accept this new form of concurrence ? Apparently, there are already preventive mesures taken by the actual economical power to counter this evolution, and some so-called "harmonising processes" in the building of European Union, for example, or in the GATT negociations, could also be seen as disguised weapons against a true market concurrence, including on the level of Culture goods.
In this perspective, the french "exception culturelle" (as a matter of fact, sometimes used as an excuse to hide unability on the field of concurrence) should be re-designed and re-named as a true public support for equal "starting-block" chances on the free-enterprising arena, not only as protectionnism, or as an arrogant self-designation of some Art "connaisseurs".
Or, to make it more clear, the limit between protectionnism and public support for equal-starting-points should be investigated more carefully, more precisely, should be more framed on a permanent, universal, and legal basis (cf. the European Council initiative on the Cultural Rights, to be added at the Declaration of Human Rights... cf. the works of Patrice MEYER-BISCH, I.I.E.D.H., University of Fribourg/Switzerland).

As an element of conclusion, one could say that the transfer from the "old style" model of globalisation (model 1) to the "new style" model (model 2) will be possible only under what we could call a "cultural" process, to some extend, and it might precisely be the time-and-space point where economics, social and culture will be integrated in a natural (not to say ecological) process.
In fine, an acceptable electoral program...

Lobby et politiques culturelles (lobby and culture policies)

1) As a preambule, we have to agree on the term "lobby", which is recovering various (not to say contradictory) attitudes, such as the term "pragmatic".
One could say that this word has been mostly introduced through an intensive use (a "wild" lobbying) of direct and frequent relationships between the industry and market managements (or corporation representatives) and the political decision makers, in order to alterate the planning of the priorities for which these decison-makers stood for, at the time of their elections.
This understates as a starting point that the political ground of the decison-making process is (and has been) weak enough to be controlled, manipulated by external sources.
Therefore one could say that, the more the foundations of the public policy have been strongly and logically build, less and less are the chances to succeed in lobbying.
This is probably true in the field of culture policies as well.
Therefore, if we expect a "clean" lobbying, this can only be organised around the concept of transparency, communication, explanation process, rather than around a power struggle.
It is a fact, though, that the borderline between these two different ways of lobbying is thin and loose, but it is also obvious that one of the first skills to be taught to future politicians would be "how to resist lobbying, how to sort out the different forms of it, how to find out the real aims under the surface communication"... etc...

2) As a matter of fact, lobby as such is rarely successful if not relayed on the ground ("in the streets") by large communication peak actions. The agriculture sector in Europe (as well as in the USA), the steel sector in Germany, have largely proved this action-in-tandem.
As far as the culture is concerned, lobby in Europe has poor achievements, mostly because of the individualistic nature of artists, who left alone culture activists with the problematic of strategy, long-term perspectives, anticipation. It is hopeless today to expect meeting a european artist who could say sensible things about the future of his/her sector in the next 20 years. Nobody really tries to figure out what could be the dangers, the supports, the frame, the legitimacy, for a culture policy. This already-ancient attitude of unresponsability is probably one of the main reasons why, for example, it is very hard today to "lobby" the decision-makers at the european level in order to integrate the cultural factor in the works preparing what could be considered as ’the new Constitution" of Europe. Actually, the only reference to Culture in those draft texts is about culture diversity (probably under the pressure of regional policies, refer to preceeding chapter), but nobody speaks about a global european culture policy.
I am not saying here that this is a lack. Maybe we don’t need a global european culture policy, but this is another debate.
I just want to point out that, in the lack of such a policy (or at least in the lack of a common statement about this), it will be much easyer for specific interests (audio-visual industries, corporatist lobbies, copyright companies, artists unions, etc...) to alterate, manipulate, modify, etc... relevant orientations for the spending of long-term structural public spending, without any previous public debate.
In this case, lobby could become (is already become ???) a democratic-process killer.
The only way to keep it in the frame of the normal democratic debate would be indeed to associate to these evolutions citizen representations on a permanent basis.
... as far as the word "citizen" is understood as the gathering of all concerned persons, not only professionnals, but also "destinators" (better than "customers") of the structural spendings.

As an element of conclusion, I would say that the considering of the lobbying factor automatically sends back to the convenient articulation of public and private investments.
It is today out-of-fashion to oppose these two ways of spending, since the entire economy is now (and already since decades) based on the intimate intrication of public and private ineterests, eventhough communication channels try, for tactical reasons, to aknowledge the opposite idea.
In the future, the successful decision-maker in the cultural field (politician or buisenessman, public or private) will be the one able to anticipate the consequences of an integrated (as much as possible) planning, based on a truely democratic debate.
Short-term lobbying is clannic, anti-democratic, and probably destroys natural ressources (including intellectual) long-term planning.

Alliances et réseaux (Alliances and networking)

Please refer to my preceeding text.