All entries for January 2008

January 30, 2008

News of the week…

For all of you who are too busy being productive citizens of the student community and have no time to read news I thought I'd create a little deliciously bias review of the crazy things that have been happening in our global society in the past few days. That way you save time, you can impress fellow intellectuals with how up-to-date you are on your current events and I have some motivation to read news (it's kind of like back in school when teachers made you do book reports).

  • Bush's State of the Union 

I guess an important place to start is Bush's (thankfully) FINAL State of the Union address last night. Amongst the usual fluffly, patriotic rhetoric and a vocabularly that would pose no challenge for a toddler, he set an outline for his administration's priorities for the next year. Some came as a surprise. A top issue was of course the economy with GDP falling down to a 0.6% in the fourth quarter. The budget, taxes, immigration (including tigheting of the southern border), Iraq, terrorism and global warming (ironically for a superbly anti-green and non-committal administration). His US Education voucher program is probably going to fail in Congress once again, just the way it has in the previous years. There is nothing really new here, it just rounds up two turbulent terms of the man whose administration will inherit a legacy of destroying America's image globally through a series of bad decisions.

Check out some highlights:

  • US Elections (Democrats)

Obama for America

The US primaries are in full-swing leading to the excitement that is going to be Super Tuesday next week when most American states makes their choice. Obama won the  South Carolina Primary in a landslide on Saturday, leaving Hilary miles behind. Perhaps it was the 50% black population of the state that pulled the scales in his directions but polls shower that a high percentage of whites and people under 30 also gave him their vote which gives some hope that this race might not turn out to be entirely about race at the end of the day. John Edwards who is from Southern Carolina was left a distant third which caused him to drop out of the race leaving the democrats with an exciting two-hander in the final stretch!

  • Madness in Kenya

Watching news clips from Kenya scarily reminds me of some of the scenes from Hotel Rwanda. Ethnic violence has progressively risen leading to mass killings and political turmoil that has put the world's attention firmly on Kenya. The good news is that it former UN Sec Gen Koffi Anan has swiftly taken on a mediating role with many hoping that a compromise can be reached at the African Union summit which starts on Thursday. It appears that the world has refused to ignore the situation however and will not let Kenya leave the radar. Could it be that we have learned from past mistakes? After a month of killings many are concerned that this could be heading in the direction of Genocide.  "Today our country is under serious threat of sliding into anarchy," speaker of parliamentary Kenneth Marende said. The estimate puts the dead at around 850 with about 150 just since last Friday.

  • Plot to kill Nobel Prize Laureate Orhan Pamuk

This is so scary and absolutely outrageous check it out in the news.

  • Britain's new Culture Ministe Shakes things up

Apparently he's got some fairly entrepreneureal bright ideas which might be just what the Cultural Industries are in need of at the moment with so much talk of their funding being threatened. Read up I have forgotten the details.

Ok this is enough news for the next few days. In the meantime I am going to go watch the incredible Yasmin Levy in concert at the Warwick Art Centre's main theatre this evening and I am thoroughly looking forwards to it. More news on the interview we did with her on behalf of the superb RAW World Music show- GreenHouse Effect, coming soon!

January 24, 2008

Return to the blogosphere

In the words of Sam Cooke "It has been a long time coming" since I last approached the blogosphere from the inside. A lot has changed in my life in the meantime- degrees, houses, countries, friends, attitudes, beliefs. Three years is a long time and at university, it's even longer.

In the spirit of the new year (which really isn't that new anymore) I vow to use this space to review, rethink, comment and collect information, emotions and memories of the world around me.

In particular, thanks to Ruth I will be exploring the meaning of entrepreneurship and the difficulties of developing an idea from scratch and growing it to a fully implementable business plan in the module Cultural Entrepreneurship. Thanks Ruth, for the motivation.

At this stage I am considering a number of ideas ranging from an Event Management organisation, a Silent disco club or a multicultural theatre company. As I would probably want to set up the business back in Bulgaria, or perhaps even in Sri Lanka it is important to start with an analysis of the cultural market, its wants and needs, its challenges and priorities. I feel that in both my home countries there is an abundance of challenges ranging from the fact that the creative industries are underfunded, underdeveloped and struggling. People are not used to paying for culture and the youth (especially in Bulgaria) is much happier playing computer games, watching TV, hanging out at the new 'malls', going to the cinema or getting intoxicated in the plethora of clubs and bars available.

It almost feel like if one wants the majority of young people to consume more high end culture they need to disguise it in a completely new 'cool' package, trick them into it, hypnotise them, spoon feed them. When it comes to theatre and Bulgarian film in particular we don't have the English culture of supporting that enterprise both on a policy level and as audience and theatre-goers.

It is of course a generalisation. There are young people who frequent the theatre, go to poetry readings, gallery openings and alternative film screenings, and take an active interest in our creative industries. There are a few incredibly ventures to encourage them. They are a minority however. During the communist years there was an intellectual, cultural elite in place. Today the elite includes dodgy businessmen, corrupt politicians, mafia and their model girlfriends. Theyattend the trendy Opera cafe right under the National Opera but won't be seen in an actual performance of it. Theygo to concerts but not of the philharmonic or some new struggling student band, they attend chalga gigs with playback performances by their favourite pop-folk silicone clad diva. They are patrons of kitsch and pop culture. Which is not all bad of course. I don't mean to appear as an elitist defender of the high arts. A lot has emerged from our newly found pop culture post 1990. Artists have had to find their feet with a government that no longer subsidises all their ventures. Payner (major chalga/pop folk label) has been incredibly successful in their strategy and until recently held a complete monopoly on the genre. Pop and rock music have had their success stories as well. It appears the national theatre, film and art industries are in a far more difficult place in terms of their position in our cultural food chain.

I could in fact continue the analysis of the state of the Bulgarian cultural industries for a while longer but for now I will take a break and list a few things that we don't have on our cultural scene in a hope that my final enterprise will fill one of those gaps.

We don't have...a clubbing venue where ppl with completely different tastes can enjoy their music in a single space; an English speaking theatre company; a major multicultural festival similar to Glastonbury or Sziget; a residential artists community centre where foreign artists can come an work for a few months while networking with their Bulgarian counterparts and experiencing the culture; many professional companies that provide corporate leadership training, creative consultancy and workshop technique in a corporate environment.

I would love to continue the rant but a) its One World Week and I'm going out and b) i think there is enough food for thought here for the moment. I'll finish with one of my favourite definitions of what entrepreneurship is: "the ability to create and build something from practically nothing; fundamentally a human, creative act. It is finding personal energy by initiating, doing, achieving and building an enterprise or organization, rather than by just watching, analysing or describing one. It is the knack for sensing an opportunity where others see chaos, contradiction and confusion." Jeffrey Timmons

January 2008

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