Friday, December 21, 2012

That's what friends are for.

This is my son Stephen's class blog for the end of this year.   

 It is worth looking at and it is also my Christmas greeting to all my Blog followers.

Watch and enjoy.     Year 8 Leaving Video.

His whole blog is worth exploring.    Wonderful things about creativity in teaching.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Women on Boards

There is still a glass ceiling when it comes to having women on boards of New Zealand publicly listed companies.  (And I suspect many other countries)

Only one in twelve people on our boards are women.  This is the average number onr all the  NZ Stock Exchange Boards and there appears to be little that can be done to change the reluctance of existing Boards to open their doors to women.   There are some exceptions, but not enough.

This reluctance is not based on fact or the good govenance. It appears to be an Old Boys Club.  Research has shown that companies with women members do better than those without women - so one would think that shareholders would start voting by selling shares with men only boards.  

Recently I put my name forward for a Board of one of our listed companies.    I offered  my knowledge of the working of boards.   I have been on many boards, am chair of two not for profit Boards.  Have been CEO for two companies run by boards (for 9 years each) and been a senior manager for another Board for 9 years.   My Masters degree and my specialist knowledge of cultural well-being and consumer cultures were also not attractive.   The existing Chair wanted an accountant with financial knowledge - a man.    The fact that I have extensive financial knowledge also didn't count.

I was asked to address the annual meeting as I had provided a formal nomination by existing shareholders.  I took up the offer to speak.    

I had been told that the Chair would not be voting for me and he would exercise ALL his proxies unless they indicated differently, to vote for the accountant/ financial manager.    

I think he was surprise that I am an experienced public speaker.    I talked about women in New Zealand getting the vote in 1893, Women being Mayors, Politicians and being on and Chairs of Not for Profit organisations.  I noted the number of VERY important people who were stressing the need for women on boards.   Then I took the Annual Meeting on a voyage through the current global financial crisis and the two social movement - Wall Street coming down to Main Street, and the Women on Boards movement.

The moves to social interaction and changes in global communication.    I then told them why they should vote for me.

There was a lot of support at the meeting, but it was not worth counting the votes and proxies.  The Chair had the majority.     It is sad - but I will put my name forward again next year and every year until a women or two are appointed.

It has been interesting watching the Obama win in United States and I was watching the Men of the Republican Party totally surprised that they had lost.   The Republican men looked as if they were in different era. 

I read the Annual Reports of many of our companies and look at the photos of Boards - all or almost all those in the photos are white older men - no diversity and no women or only one. 

I am sure this is not restricted to New Zealand, I don't want a quota, but I do think something will need to be done, if only so that these companies can change their business models. 

In the same way as the Republicans are now realising that maybe the have to change, it is also  time this male dominance of Boards to change.     

There are many women with skills and experience that could make our businesses more innovative and more customer friendly.

Women must continue to put their names forward.   Maybe there will be change.  Lets hope that change doesn't take another decade.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

No longer shades of Grey – The creative elderly - Creative Ageing

The baby boomers are now retiring and are healthy, adventurous, creative and energetic seniors.   Many will live 30+ years after they retire.  Many will live quality lives till well over 100 years old. Most will retain their enthusiasm and be very active throughout their lives and will demand social, economic and environmental well-being. Most will want to live in their own homes and they will remain their intelligence and demand activities. 

This new generation of senior citizens will want, in fact demand, age appropriate activities that have no relation to sickness, nursing or health care. Seniors will want music, art, literature and performance during the day. They will want fast broadband and good café environments

The sickness model characterised byGood morning dear, and how are we today?”  must be replaced by a well-being model Good Morning Mrs Brown, what are you doing today?  The well-being model for seniors has choice, creative engagement and social connectedness with others in society.

The Grey Power generation is embarking on a silent revolution and creative people and arts administrators should become a part of this social movement, which like all social movements will be lead by the energetic seniors themselves.   Some of today’s 65 year olds were 60’s hippies and community activist.  There is no reason they can’t be active in politics and the arts again.

No longer will the seniors sector be called “aged care”. It will be called retirement, but that word will mean action, and it will mean music, drama and films. 

Currently the sickness model dominates the residential accommodation and programmes for many of our over 70 year-olds. Many programmes are imposed on the elderly. This is no longer satisfactory, and will become less acceptable as our baby boomers become older.

No longer is it acceptable to place the elderly in a room with a TV set “on full” or “keep them busy”, with “diversional” therapies in their residential homes. Programmes should not be run by nurses and health professionals they should be run by the elderly themselves and recreation specialists and artists. 

This elder social movement is similar to the movements of the 1980s and 90’s associated with people with disabilities. That movement saw the closure of institutions and residents moved back into the community and taking control of their support organisations. That movement generated in New Zealand the creative spaces.  These creative spaces provided positive employment of time and meaningful relationships for those who had previously been institutionalised.  They encouraged creativity and creative choices.

At last there is a social movement being run by the seniors themselves and they are demanding the same choices - no more institutions, real community connectivity. This is social connectedness through creative activities not “care”.  

Older people are writing novels and histories, making pottery and glass works, creating films and videos, performing in theatre and film, in orchestras and choirs.  They are engaging in the men’s sheds and connecting more on the internet and digital platforms.  Many are returning to universities and attending community learning courses and craft clubs.   

These activities and the art works that result will not only be shades of grey, they will be shades of red, blue, yellow, green, purple, pink, orange, black and white.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pathways to Sports and Arts Success

During the Post Mortem phase of the Olympic Games there has been a lot of discussion about why some sports do better than others.

In the discussions the word “Pathways” is sometimes used.   The thinking goes something like this:  If young people do not have exposure to a sport ( start of the  ‘pathway’), we will never know if they are good or not  or if they are going to be a champion or an Olympic Games medal winner.

The discussions here are particularly in relation to swimming and athletics that were often taught at school.  They also involve discussion of the sports where we did well. Those for New Zealand were rowing and yachting and Kayaking. These sports do have well established well organised infrastructure with clubs and coaches at junior level and then those who are good are nurtured thus emerging elite sports people.  There is an established and effective Path, from first learning the sport to achieving at the games.   

My experience has been with the arts, rather than sport, but the same applies.    If people are not exposed to the arts, particularly the craft arts, music and dance, how will we know who will be our next Icon artists?
I think particularly of Glass and Ceramics, but also Sculpture, film and Fabric, music and dance arts.    Most of these art forms were in the past funded from Community Education courses and many people attended.  The community education courses also provided funding for small orchestras, Jazz groups and craft arts.   With the cuts to community education these course have been cut or consolidated with little funding and in “hubs” which do not acknowledge transport links or cost.  

In Otaki for example, where I know the Pottery Club. That Club had to change from a community educational group into an Incorporated Society and almost immediately the only a few new people joining. The cost of running the club and the private funding of courses was only for those who can afford the $100 plus dollars for a course, or who were already good enough to sell some product.  

In the Community Education Classes of the past there were young people, refugees, Maori and Pacific Island students. These groups have stopped coming and with that we are losing the potentially high performance artists among them.     Dance, Music and Singing are most often now taught by private dance teachers, and choirs again, are no longer open to everyone.   The cost of a young person learning the violin or cello, or becoming a top ballet or jazz dancer is totally in the hands of parents who can afford the fees.     The Pathway has been closed, with no new or diverse people learning the skills there will in a few years time no excellent artists.   You have to start somewhere and if that start is too expensive then the only people attending are comfortably off middle class.

I gather this is the same as with sport.    Access to the Arts and Sport is a right that goes with being an active member and part of a community, so why have we changed the goal posts and made the arts and sport accessible only to the few and excluding opportunity for many whose talent lies unnoticed?  Surely we should make programmes available for little or no cost.  Then we will have the Pathway that is needed for success.
Just one other comment from my own experience.  I have spent much of my adult life working in prisons and correctional facilities and have been in awe of some of the work by prison artists.  I can’t count the number of times a prison artist said to me “I had never done art/ sculpture/ ceramics till I came to prison.”     They then learn quickly and become excellent.   They also suggest that if they had learnt to be an artist at school they might not have ended up in prison.     Given the cost of prison per offender or prisoner the opportunity cost of spending money on sport and arts at the basic level should not only save money spend in crime, but also provide positive Pathways to high performance.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Creative spaces and the Older Adult

Over about 20 years I have been involved with groups setting up Creative Spaces for people with Psychiatric or intellectual disabilities.   These space have been extremely important ways to give people a place to go that will give individuals somewhere where they can be creative.   They are also Third Places.

Now that I am semi retired I think it is time to set up similar places for the older adults.  

Many of these older adults are in retirement homes.  These places have lots of sports activities, but do they have places for people to paint, draw, make pottery, paint, write poetry or music?  

I don't think so. 

The Older Adults in our communities need spaces to go, just as much as younger people.   Yes many do go to clubs with younger people, but challenges with hearing and sight create extra needs and considerations.

Creative Ageing Centres are the answer.   Lets think and plan to set these up.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Wedding and Planning

Planning for a wedding is like designing a play and writing the script and then using that material as you set the choreography (the dance - the pattern) that makes the wedding flow.

What I love about weddings is they way they reflect the couples and their families.  If the celebrant works with the couple, asking them about what they want on the day then the wedding will be uniquely these.

I have done weddings for young people and old people, most New Zealand ethnic groups, including Indian, Chinese, Maori, Pacific Island, English and Pakeha.    All are different and all demonstrating that special character of the family.   

The wedding must be about the well-being of the couple, but also must recognise that a wedding if about a family and friends coming together to celebrate.

Email me if you want to discuss a wedding   or visit my website at for more information.  

Sunday, July 15, 2012

What is Cultural Capital?

Cultural capital is the wealth that is created when society recognises and invests in the components of culture and also when culture is used to provide economic social, environmental and cultural wellbeing?    It is also about creating income, self employment and social capital.
Here are a few definitions to help you understand this value:

To understand Cultural Capital and Cultural Well-being you should download and read "Cultural Well-being and Cultural Capital" by Penny Eames; /

 If you don't want to download then try some of these definitions:

Cultural capital describes the value of culture when measured as an asset in terms of economic, social and environmental resources”[1].

“...the term cultural capital is used because, like money, our cultural inheritance can be translated into social resources (things like wealth, power and status) and the cultural capital we accumulate from birth can be “spent:’ in education systems as we try to achieve things that are considered to be culturally important[2]”.

“Cultural capital is an important aspect of social capital and social capital is an expression of cultural capital in practice.   Social capital is based on and grows from the norm, values networks and ways of operating that are the core of cultural capital”.[3]

To understand these quotes we also need to understand what we mean by the word culture.  The easiest definition I have found is based if from UNESCO and this definition was accepted and adopted in the Declaration on Cultural Diversity in 2001.

...culture should be regarded as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual emotional features of society or a social groups, and ... it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs[4]

In my publications I have simplified the meanings and suggest that  “culture is the histories (myths), ideologies, values and the rituals that expresses them[5].

This simple definition gives us the headings for analysing the existing culture of a society, town, community or group.   We can look at these different headings – histories (heritage and myths), values, ideologies and rituals (ceremonies behaviours) and note the positives and negatives. Then we can see how these characteristics of culture can be used to enhance wellbeing generally and become assets

[1] Eames Cultural Well-being and Cultural Capital 2006
[4] UNESCO 2002  UNESCO (2001Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity   Adopted by the 31st session of the UNESCO General Conference, Paris, 2 November 2001
[5] Eames 2009  Spirituality of Older New Zealanders : Bishops Action Foundation  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Cultural Wellbeing includes social wellbeing

There is now a significant amount of research showing the value of Social Capital, but not as much research demonstrating the importance of Cultural Capital. 

Cultural Capital is about the histories, ideologies, values and rituals of a society and how to measure that in terms of capital and wealth.   Social Capital is only a small amount of this.    It is worth looking at my paper on my website  and under Cultural Economics download my paper to the 17th International Conference on Cultural Economics.

The paper was warmly received particularly the emphasis on Genuine Progress Indicators and Sustainable development.

These buddha look so happy and warm on the side of the road in Japan.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Japan and Cultural Economics Conference

It was great having the opportunity to give a paper at the Cultural Economics Conference in Kyoto last month.   Stimulating to hear speaker after speaker emphasising the value of culture and cultural capital.

Of particular interest were papers on the way Libraries can adapt to the world of E readers and become the Third Place in towns and the hug for development.

Other papers showed how valuable having a highly experienced, intellegent and senior administrator in Local Government positions makes such a difference to the nurturing of creative towns and cities.

 The suggestion backed up with research was that it is often one or two people, sometimes the Mayor, Deputy Mayor or a senior local government official that stimulates creativity in a society.   They need others including artists to provide the sparks, but they only light up when the administator of local government official lights the match and/ or brings others together to stimulate the sector to be creative and thus create creative cities or towns.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cultural Economics today

Japan is an amazing culture, organised and with an amazing rail and subway system which makes it easy to travel around.

The conference on Cultural Economics is stimulating.   Today I give my speech.   Visit that speech on my website  and go to Cultural Economics drop down and read my speech.