The development of the new technology in the last few years has transformed a huge portion of conventional “offline” audiences of cultural events into online users, who obtain a much higher potential to consume culture and information, to act borderless browsing Internet, to find communities in their own professional field or interest, to break isolation, to broadcast themselves at the global virtual stage, merging the line between the “stage” and the “floor”. We all spend much time in MySpace, YouTube, Google, Flickr. We use our computers not only for work, but as a powerful multimedia station where we consume information, digital culture and media forms or artistic presentations. But do we, as cultural managers and artists, know who our online audiences are, what are their expectations and needs, how they might contribute better to our cultural experiences?
The unstructured growing of websites, blogs online tools and platforms changes the way in which we cooperate in the cultural and artistic field, the means by which we interact and work together on transnational projects. Cultural cooperation practice rapidly moves online, providing more chances for partnership, visibility of artists and artistic products at the international market, cultural consumption via online sales, but also-facing lots of challenges.
The “power centers’ of cultural cooperation in Europe are still the numerous cultural networks and associations. Their structure and aims also change nowadays, forced by the new technologies. Many of them are in a process of reshaping and finding the way through the world of online challenges, as they can not survive in the way they were set up 10 or 20 years ago. There are more and more evidences of networks and platforms, existing only virtually, but not as “physically” registered nonprofit organizations. In some cases we even loose the sense of their physical presence, ownership and structure.
Do we have a “European online cultural space”? Who are the current “power points” at this newly created virtual reality and how we find, maintain, develop them?
The impact of the new technologies makes cultural cooperation in Europe today possible at individual level, without the necessary intervention of governments and institutions. The power of the individual artist, manager, consumer is enormous. On another hand, we, as artists, cultural operators and managers, still need financial support for our projects, for our mobility and exchange. We do need to meet personally and share, to create together, as we are humans. New technologies provide us with a cheap and easy way to communicate, to be mobile, to be fast and efficient. We speed up and race against the time, using Internet to be faster and well informed, peering at the goals and results, often forgetting about the processes. Does crossing borders in a virtual way seem much easier than crossing physical borders, or it is even more difficult as it is a fully intangible process? We are virtually capable to consume enormous amount of unfiltered information, and we often forget about seeking and exchanging of knowledge and personal in-dept experience.
Cultural funding at national, international and local level still uses many of the “old fashioned” methods of funding, concentrated more on the offline, rather than on online projects. Funders prefer to invest and to sponsor visible cultural products, rather than online tools. Cultural policy instruments in many countries still stay behind and do not reflect the development of the new online tools and platforms. Majority of the national cultural funding is given to organizations existing physically, and very little-to online cultural and artistic platforms and initiatives. Do we discuss enough and efficienly the cultural policy and cultural funding issues in the light of the new online world?
LabforCulture initiative is a vast source of online information, debate and research on European cultural cooperation. The fully interactive website tries to encourage cultural cooperation online, to build connection in the chain “cultural policy-research-artistic practice”, to provide a knowledge basis and debates around issues related to cross-border cooperation and mobility, to help users to learn more about less known projects, case studies, countries and regions. This new initiative raises plenty of new possibilities, new lessons to learn and also-creates new demands and expectations.
Are we, as cultural experts and researchers, ready to discuss efficiently topics like: cultural online consumption and participation, arts marketing online, managing online projects and virtual organizations, online fundraising, legal issues related to online sales, the efficiency of open sources, etc.?
Are we aware enough that there is a digital divide between the societies in the broader Europe of 48 counties and if yes, what do we do to encourage access and online visibility for the less privileged?
How do we solve in our daily practice the tensions between:
- Artistic demand-users’ needs
- Mobility – stability
- Managing ad-hock projects – long-term planning
- New comers-experienced target groups
- On line promotion-offline activities
- Notion of experimenting-need for stability
- Uniqueness of our cultural initiatives online and the need to synchronise databases?
Bulgaria, Canada, Netherlands
„European Cultural Cooperation online“
Between the Demand and Supply factors
„European Cultural Cooperation online“
(c) Lidia Varbanova
See also this artistic contribution to…