Sat 17 Mar 2018 7:55PM

Concepts & principles

M mike_hales Public Seen by 109

In the thread CopyFair/CultureBanking' we started to get into issues with concepts like 'return on investment' and 'capital'. So the thread-owner, Liam, suggested a new thread for that purpose. Here it is - please feel free here to address any of these old and possibly compromised or even dangerous bits of language, and their associated taken-for-granted practices.


mike_hales Sat 17 Mar 2018 8:03PM

Creative? Culture? Investment/ROI?

Marion commented on:

a cultural planning conference. In this context, culture refers to the way we live - planning is thinking about it.

@liammurphy responded, in the context of CultureBanking:

'Culture' in this case is far more restricted in its use. Here we are dealing with activities and products creatively produced, license-able and providing an ROI - either social or economic.

And I queried:
Liam what is 'creative' production please? What is 'non-creative' production? I'd say this is a very dangerous distinction to be trying to build a practice on. Especially in relation to a 'commons' ethic.

Yes, licensing is a reasonable concern, to do with maker-right and the ethical-political relationship between a maker and a wide community and system of trade. But ROI? Oh come on! Why fall into that commercial vein? What's wrong with 'social outcome' or 'social benefit' (or 'common-weal' - a wonderful old piece of language), coupled with 'resourcing', 'funding' or even 'generosity' or 'gifting'? Why think for even a moment in terms of 'investment', which is tainted to the roots with mercantilism and capital?

I suspect that the anthropological usage of culture that @marion94 brings is much more sound, and helps guard against the elitism, luxury orientation or preciousness that occurs in 'art' and 'craft' traditions, from Morris to the Cultural Industries. I think sharing your personally costly resources is a great, generous thing to do Marion, thank you.

I'd also say that 'skill' is a much more sound - deeper, more catholic - basis than 'creativity' for cultivating making-and-producing practices in a context of commons. It has an intrinsic reference to value, which is lacking in 'creativity' (unless we fall in with Romantic notions). Skill is closely connected with labour power - which then gets us well into a collective recognition of maker-capability and well away from Romantic Art-individualism. In that frame, 'culture' equals the totality of labour power - the capacity to vision, organise, make, mobilise, review and value - in a bundle of communities. Now we're talking real commons! IMHO


mike_hales Mon 19 Mar 2018 10:30AM

@liammurphy, now we have a new thread separate from your CultureBanking project, I really would like to know . . .

what is 'creative' production please? What is 'non-creative' production? I'd say this is a very dangerous distinction to be trying to build a practice on. Especially in relation to a 'commons' ethic.

I'd be glad to know that we weren't sliding into Romantic Art-individualism here.


mike_hales Sat 17 Mar 2018 8:13PM

Investment, banking

@liammurphy commented:

PS Mike, I’m also re-appropriating the term ‘banking’ - re choice of language etc.

And I responded:
I think 'banking' is a litle safer Liam (than some other conventional finance terms), if regarded simply as holding funds (in common) and making them available.

But investment/reinvestment/ROI are all too close to usury, mercantilism and capital to be safe notions, especially when other neutral or contrary notions are to be had: for example, funding, resourcing, gifting, generosity, trust. Of course we should hope for an outcome from funding, and a (common) benefit. But isn't 'return on investment' just capital: money making more money. So what's changed? Is collective or common rather than private ownership of means of production enough to usher in a changed order, if good old ROI is still aceepted as a legitimate expectation? I don't think so.

There is no OK usage of 'capital'. It's always bad: money gone cancerous. If it's good, it's not capital, it's something else - venture funding, seed-corn money, a gift, whatever. We should call things by their names. IMHO If we want collective benefits, and resources held in common, that's what we should speak of; not investment and ROI.


Liam Murphy Mon 19 Mar 2018 11:01AM

Non exhaustive definition Mike, but:

The person who creates the knitting pattern is, arguably, more creative than the person who follows it..but not more creative than the person who uses it to make something new” I don’t really care about any of those (probably false) - distinctions my working definition for this project is:

“..things, processes, etc which can be classed as intellectual property “...

Let me know your thoughts?




mike_hales Mon 19 Mar 2018 11:19AM

Thanks Liam. Will respond in a day or two. Busy just now :)


Liam Murphy Thu 12 Apr 2018 6:40AM

Comments in relation to Culturebanking, Commoning and Cultural Commons Coalition:

Kevin Murphy · a month ago
Just to add that through the Our Cultural Commons initiative it's becoming clear that we need new ways of resourcing long term cultural 'assets' that can sustain creative cultural activities for and with people and places.....so the approaches you are suggesting here are important to explore

Liam Murphy
Liam Murphy · a month ago
Indeed! No point talking about making anything you’ve no system to manage. Just irresponsible... and no excuse, given the platform coop, not to ensure financial resources go direct to the point of need and value creation; Grenfell being an exemplar of all that’s not working in ‘aid’... I am sure that very soon the Arts Council, the BBC, Kings College, Gulbenkian et al will be clamouring to finance ‘their own versions’ of these ideas! (Sic). Kevin - I might need to be more explicit about this - it's a serious point: In our traditional 'Partnership Funding' approach to projects and social objectives, it is very likely a large foundation or some other might seek to fund (Voluntary Arts or 'Big Local for example) commons initiatives. As things are, they can't! This sentence sums up a reason why:

"Big Local Trust was established by Local Trust and the Big Lottery Fund with a National Lottery grant of £196,873,499. The grant is an endowment, which has to be spent by December 2026. It funds Big Local, supporting 150 communities in England to make their areas even better places to live".

The model here is still 'short term money we spend til its gone'. In that sense capital investment which expects a return is better in some ways for sustainability but obviously not possible for commons. The Commons must be OWNED by commoners. If the Big Local TRust was interested in creating a Commons Legacy ('Commons TRust'?) from 2026 - I would support that. Likewise funding commons must be reciprocal - we give and get back - rather than provisional - we give til it's gone. Essentially Big Local is not giving to it's Commons, it is giving to it's clients. Very different. The latter being enclosed in a framework of established Intellectual Property of the organisation.

The commons can't be 'withdrawn' - like an endowment, since they are always held in common, can always be added to and , in purest form, can't be extracted from by private interests. I'll try to reflect something of this in the Coalition statement... L