Kathleen Soriano on elculture.gr



Creative industry is one broad sector that embraces diverse expressions of cultural production, from the traditional ones such as architecture, theater, cinema to design, fashion or even video games. The dynamics of this industry works as leverage of economic growth globally, contributing an estimated 3% -7% of the Gross Domestic Product.

Kathleen Soriano is accredited with a long and largely successful career in culture and the arts. She has served as Head of Exhibitions & Collections at the Royal Academy of Arts in UK, as well as a trustee in major cultural institutions such as House of Illustration , Grand Palais in Paris and she is currently working as an independent curator. Soriano is coming to Athens as a keynote speaker at the international meeting “Creative Economy – An infinite opportunity” to be held on the 18th of October at the Acropolis Museum. The meeting is an initiative organized by the consulting firm elpis during which speakers from different fields will have a chance to discuss and debate on the importance of investing on creative industry.

ελc: How would you describe your professional experience so far in the arts?
Kathleen Soriano:
I entered the cultural sector at the end of the 1980s and experienced the dramatic shifts and changes that impacted on the UK arts organizations at that time, when they had to become more businesslike, more competitive and more aligned with the interests of government, their key funders, in the delivery of their agendas around education and communities. That increasing professionalism created a cultural sector in the UK that was at the forefront of the arts across the world.

ελc: As your experience is extensive as a Director of Exhibitions at the RA and an independent curator, what would you consider as the greatest contributions of your profession?
Working in London, it is important to recognize that one of the key reasons for the high level of tourism that we experience is down to the incredible cultural offer in that city. London speaks to the world. The number of world class arts institutions with their incredible collections and exhibition programs, ensures an extended interest for our visitors, who will also be enjoying the theatres and concert halls at the same time. All of this will increase expenditure in the city in hotels, restaurants and retail businesses, often extending to the regions.

ελc: How do you perceive the Creative economy?
For me, a creative economy consists of a better understanding of the real contribution that the arts as a whole makes to the economic welfare of a city, a country, it’s people and the tourists who visit. It includes art galleries and museums, design and retail around culturally related activities, theatre, concert halls, music, literature, poetry, film, craft and fashion.

ελc: Which part of the Creative Economy intrigues you the most at the moment?
The fact that in many respects the evidence (at least in the UK) has been gathered and is accepted, in relation to the contribution of culture, but that this does not translate to extended financial governmental support of the arts in the UK, given the economic climate and in the face of “greater need”, be it for health or education. I am also interested in the shifts that that is causing to happen in the sector at the moment where we have to be prepared to lose some arts organizations and see others flourish in this more competitive and self-sufficient world.

ελc: Society has witnessed a passage from an agricultural-intensive economy to a labor-intensive economy to a knowledge economy to creative economy. What, according to you, triggered the transition between the last two?
The internet is clearly at the heart of the revolutionary changes that we are experiencing and the availability, or bombardment, of data that we now have elevates the valued distinction that the creative economy can bring.

ελc: Could it be that the Arts could be easily commodified by entering in such a structured model?
Art is an important part of a complex ecology that exists within the Creative Economy, and within art itself there is a further complex ecology that ensures that it operates at many different levels. In many respects, art is already a commodity but its ability to say things differently will always ensure that it does not always conform or simply become commodified.

ελc: A key word when it comes to creative economy, or better a necessary medium, is “connectivity”. Would you say that this creates a two-tier situation between those who can connect and those who can’t?
I consider this linked to any form of evolution in that the changes that happen in our lives divide us into those who are part of, and understand, those changes, and those that have to learn to understand and work with them, and those that don’t. So, yes, I do think that it creates a two- or three-tier situation but that it has always been thus.

ελc: What is your feeling about the future of arts in Greece judging from your experience in UK?
I am always hopeful, and especially if organizations such as Elpis continue to encourage debate and collaboration around the arts and its value. In the UK, the arts has been impressively supported by a range of charities, trusts and foundations (Esmee Fairbairn, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Jerwood Foundation, Wellcome Trust, Lindbury Trust, Wolfson Foundation, Peter Moores Foundation and many others) as well as by government funded bodies such as the Arts Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund, all of which understand the value of the arts and their contribution to the positive welfare, economic and otherwise, of their country and the people who live in the UK and who benefit from the wealth of the arts of offer as well as its ability to represent the UK internationally and to thereby increase its attractiveness for tourism, business and further investment.

Info: Kathleen Soriano is a speaker at the international meeting “Creative Economy – An infinite opportunity” | 18 October 2014 |at 10:00 | Acropolis Museum

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