The Arts and Science Encounter in Odessa 27 April 2007 at the Londonskaya Hotel
On the other hand, new perceptions and ways of life and work that could grow out of globalization such as plural economies, are not yet working. We are in a phase of “an approaching division of the world’s population into the globalized employed rich and the localized unemployed poor.” (Zygmunt Baumann). Those, who overcome spatial confinement and have no time. And these, who are chained to their territory and forced to kill time they cannot use meaningfully.
We are living in times of inbetween: We are no longer sufficiently taken care of by Uncle Sam (father state?) and we can not yet depart on different, our own ways, because still the prerequisites for social constructions are missing, prerequisites that could generate hybrids between public welfare and private self-organization.
The interests of Western politics and multi-national corporation in other peoples and regions is usually limited by their search for low-cost production, cheap resources and un-tapped markets. There can be no talk of mutual learning. One is being replaced by the other. I refer to that as the “Starbuck-ization” of the world. The unfamiliar (foreign?) therefore remains unfamiliar - or is in danger of being over-utilized before it can even be properly appreciated.
The arts and sciences, however, have the power to welcome the unfamiliar into their own practice without absorbing and annihilating it. On a global scale, dance, literature, theatre and music have taken up various cultural influences, styles and aesthetics in their activities, thereby creating cultural hybrids and running counter to the classical economic scheme of import and export.
Social movements, and emancipatory movements especially, have likewise influenced the arts - whose works in return have been taken up by social or political movements. In an analysis of black and Caribbean liberation movements, the American historian Vincent Hardings points to the music. Because of its global reach their music has found a way into other liberation movements as well: Tianamen-Square in Bejing, in South Africa, Eastern Europe and even at the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Forming hybrids as a cultural practice is not new. Cultural process and development cannot be imagined without hybridization: what is new about it, however, is the speed and the extent of the cultural dimension of globalization: uncontrolled monetary flows, internationalization of production, universal and identical consumer goods, images and presupposed ways of life.
Understanding cultural diversity in a positive way does not take cultures to be un-changing entities. Rather, it hints to the notion of “glocalization“, the concurrence of processes of globalization and the appreciation of local knowlegde without denying the inevitable asymmetries between them.
What can arts and sciences add in a time of great insecurity caused by the transition from industrial society and welfare state? How can arts and sciences generate positive social repercussions lest they succumb (or in order for them not to succumb) to economic determinism? And how can these repercussions lead to a possible cultural society?
It is my great passion to envisage a cultural society based on diversity and the great potential of the arts and sciences when it merges with what US-sociologist Richard Florida calls the “creative class”. Without the creative industry, says Richard Florida, and without TECHNOLOGY, TALENT and TOLERANCE, the indicators referring to economic progress, there will be no capacity for any economic development.
Technological prerequisite on site are taken as a given, they are there for talented people to generate creative surplus. The people, in turn, need a tolerant, cultural and artful environment.
In other words: The number of new jobs and the economic prosperity of a country, a region, a city increasingly hinge on the role that arts and sciences play there. The forms of creative activity, at the same time, serve a blueprint for new forms of labour: “The studio of the artist and the laboratories of the universities stand as archetypes of self-structured freedom that brings independence and self-determination into play against dependence on security that can no longer be warranted anyhow.”
Admittedly, we all know the down-sides to this new de-bordered way of life and its precarious lifestyles.
Creativity, inspiration and imagination – these are the raw materials of the presence. However, creativity is flow, susceptible to its surroundings, ephemeral, no supply like natural resources. Creativity thus needs an environment.
The privileged place for that is the city.
Cities will determine the future. In 2020, according to studies, 85% of all people will live in cities. Jean Ziegler, one of the well-known critics of the conditions of globalization adds that they divide the world into mega– and shrinking cities with a lot of landscapes and dead zones left behind.
Creative cities are based on their abundance of possibilities and lifestyles of their inhabitants. They need their talents, their creative powers, and the inhabitants implicit understanding that they are part of the development of their city At work and in life. For this, they need a flexible creative/inventive counterpart in politics and administration.
“Be creative—or die” is how Salon writer Christopher Dreher summarized the new urban imperative: “cities must attract the new ‘creative class’ with hip neighbourhoods, an arts scene and a gay-friendly atmosphere—or they’ll go the way of Detroit”
The enemy of any creative progress of society is the thinking in standard solutions made for eternity, the thinking along the lines of fragments and rigid administrative departments, regimes, hermetic systems, where valuable resources go wasted,
In short: Politics is the enemy of creative solutions. It is still affording that kind of luxury.
The scope of duties for the creative city has been sketched out. It has be become an expert for transitions and interim certitudes, a protagonist of change.
The “three Ts“ (talent, technology, tolerance) as laid out by Richard Florida, provide the essential background, together with the challenge to invest in education, in human development and processes, to nurture creative capital instead of physical capital.
And, to quote Richard Florida: “I want to make clear to the mayors, that is can be equally important to support the local music scene as to invest in high tech - and much more effective than to build a shopping mall.”
A creative city also cannot go very far without the so-called “third sector” described by Rifkin as “covering all formal and informal, not-for-profit ventures which together make up the cultural life of a society.” It is the sector where people form community bonds as well as the social order.
Cultural, and more broadly, creative production that often quite literally knows no tomorrow evokes different needs towards a city, towards the development of its surroundings. Cultural activity relates to the passing, the nomadic, the transitory and the unfinished as room for inspiration.
Cities with the proper combination have a head start: good universities and research facilities, start-ups, international character and diversity in culture, low rents in a good urban environment open to shaping and new influences, with inconsistencies and voids, transitorial potential.
I would be very happy if, after these hours that we are now going to spend together, we left with a notion of how the potentials of the arts and sciences and their overlaps would increase the creative breeze/energy of the city.
Odessa, my cleaning women said, who was once in a rather high position in the treasury in Moscow before leaving anyhow, Odessa this was 'intelligencia' and now....
Where can we go from here?