Mirador launches two new programmes


Mirador has launched The Economics of Dance to generate creative debate relating to the adoption of the principles and techniques of Innovation Economics to develop the dance sector in the UK by investing in  dance companies.  The campaign has a blog which can be seen at http://danceeconomics.wordpress.com

The Economics of South Asian Dance is another campaign to promote the use of ‘innovation economics’ to maximise the growth of Asian dance companies. It recommends the adoption of the strategies, tools and techniques of Innovation Economics as a means for expanding the growth of the dance sector worldwide. Mirador expects to work with major Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi dance partners. The campaign has a blog which can be seen at http://southasiandance.wordpress.com



Traditional Arts Exchange

A new dedicated site has been created by Mirador Creative Culture.

It is designed to become a major site of the wikispaces platform and provide a range of services to artists, teachers and students. Equally importantly, Traditional Arts Exchange will be rebranded as Traditional Arts Xchange to reflect, create, celebrate and communicate the development and enjoyment of the traditional arts of all communities, sometimes also known as the Ephemeral Arts of communities and regions.

Visit the new site and make suggestions! The link is http://tradionalartsexchange.wikispaces.com

How public sector cuts may even be good for culture

Arts and Culture in the time of Budgetary Cuts

My title reminds me of Garcia’s ‘Love in the time of cholera’ but this is where any similarity ends.

Some will say that it was a matter of time when substantial cutbacks in public subsidy of the arts would have been announced by the government. With even the National Health Service and other major ‘priority’ programmes now facing cuts, what was the probability that culture would escape from Mr Osborne’s axe? Even a lazy student of A Level Economics will know that a deficit can be eliminated by earning more income or by cutting spending or a combination of both.

Arts organisations should have more experience than any other forms of enterprise of managing budget deficits. Public subsidy for the arts has always helped to plug their funding gaps. Indeed publicly funded cultural entrepreneurs, amongst which the writer had a very small but notable presence at one time, have become very resourceful in both imaginatively creating deficits and then managing them.  This reminds me of Napoleon’s wartime forays into job creation when holes were dug up in the ground only to be filled in by the end of the day! From the point of view of the labourers who were grateful to be offered work, a job was a job.

The cultural sector has been reported by many studies to account for up to 38 percent of the country’s GDP depending upon the definition of culture and indeed the accounting conventions being followed. Regional ratios of cultural expenditure by the funders to local income for regions tend to support similar proportions for London and the South East.

Culture under Labour was a beneficiary of substantial public funding and whether it was justified by Keynesian notions of the role of government in managing growth through deficit funding  or by their inherent love for culture remains to be addressed on another occasion.

It is time to respond to the very loud wailing by arts organisations on the one hand and their potentially legitimate case for the continuance of public subsidy as a special case. But if arts organisations are so good at communicating with their audiences, why have they not been successful, so far, in communicating their case for sustainable funding to Jeremy Hunt the new Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport? As a quick aside, will Mr Hunt reshape his department and possibly even rename it? Does change sound more convincing when the funding agency also reinvents itself to press the case for funding cuts? This is another matter to be resolved sometime in the future.

What is essential at this stage is to open up a few wounds and to close some old ones. Not really. Arts organisations are already under so much stress; why should one want to create some more? The answer lies in the proposition that funding cuts may even help the recipients to develop newer models of sustainability by challenging their core beliefs about subsidy. I have argued elsewhere that the much coveted prize of many an arts organisation was RFO status, or regularly funded status. Those who were able to win it were in a paradise beyond comparison as financial tsunamis were only created for real businesses. To suggest that many arts organisations began to see their RFO status as an inalienable right (as stated in the American constitution just as Mr Obama contemplates further action against our BP), it was also time when loss of productivity that was bred by guaranteed funding should be subjected to critical review.

Also, don’t even mention privatisation just in case Lady T is reading this. No! Arts organisations have been intensive care for so long that the patient sees it sees their environment as a luxury and an entitlement. Of course we must promote national culture, the jobs and the value for tourism that it brings but the case for public subsidy started to weaken in the same way as my grandson drinks some of his orange juice from his drinking bottle and then proceeds to pour out the rest drop by drop into my prized carpet. Cultural organisations were not on drip feed but they were slowly watering the Sahara Desert through leakages of funds and lack of application to improve their productivity.

Enough said for the moment. In the next few issues I hope to address the following questions:

  • How does one assess the legacy of DCMS under Labour? Clearly its investment in culture has created several economic multipliers in the creative economy but while some of outcomes must be preserved just as others may need an urgent review.
  • Is it time to assess the almost passive ‘funding-led models’ that the Arts Council and other agencies of DCMS have created? The alternative would have been to offer a combination of support and challenge which should have helped to reduce the dependency relationships where arts organisations have asked for more and more funding without examining their capacity to become self-reliant in a free market culture for the arts? Does this mean that DCMS should have encouraged its funded organisations to become more self reliant? Perhaps so, and indeed some work has been done to create match funding options and to encourage arts and heritage agencies to increase self-generated income. 
  • Is there a need to review the fundamental business model which has been created by the culture of subsidy? Have arts and cultural organisations started to believe that they have a right to public funding even in a climate of public sector cuts?
  • Will their relationship with various funding agencies jeopardise the future survival of arts and cultural agencies?
  • In the event even more cuts are necessary, what criteria will the Arts Council and other funders adopt to determine new funding levels for sustainability?


The above issues will be discussed in the blog in the coming weeks.

Announcing Didadtic Media


The Triple ‘D’ Festival is being launched at a time when there is no known festival or development programme in existence to support diverse documentary, docudrama and dialogue in the United Kingdom. Various communities and arts organisations have been engaged offering narrowly based festivals, especially to celebrate the South Asian ‘Bollywood’ or the output of Indian film industry as well as the offering of a rich programme of cinema from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. There is immense talent on offer and successful production of a wide range of contributions suit all tastes from these sources of film and moving image for television. Indeed, ‘Fillum’ was one of our own festivals and from 1996 to 2000 we were able to make our own contribution to the scene by promoting it in London and the regions.

During the last few years I have wanted to create a platform which would bring together new and emerging forces in film from all over the world but which would also offer opportunities to young people to enter a rich environment for critical debate and to make their presence felt not by offering the money spinning opportunities created by film but by the power of their ideas and their convictions relating to community development and social change. Didactic media is a corruption of ‘didactic’ and its focus will be constant – promoting and learning about ‘change’ as perceived and presented by the emergence of powerful docudrama and documentary in the widest meaning of diversity in the classroom, at places of work, in the streets and in the communities of the world. It will aim to educate and inform as much as to entertain but the focus on the impact of documentary medium will be paramount.

Docudrama and documentary is an enticing medium. The views and experiences of successful documentary and docudrama makers need to reach a wider audience. Documentary appears to have been relegated to television and education. Many people with a sense of mission in using the film and moving image have been forced to produce low budget films in order to reach known and unknown audiences but documentary offers much more at an even lower cost. It is the very essence of internet enabled communication and more needs to be done to encourage new producers to adopt documentary and docudrama as a medium of choice.

Please see the new programme at http://tripleDfestival.wordpress.com and http://documedia.ning.com

Public Sector Cuts: Innovate to Survive

PUBLIC SECTOR CUTS: Announcing a new work programme in Innovation Economics

The news about cutbacks is slowly sinking in. But there is inevitably more to come if the economy worsens or if the first round of haircuts does not yield sufficient results for the government.

There are three ways that arts organisations can respond to cutbacks:

a)      Cut and run: This will entail radical action but a few organisations may be forced to close down. Bad as it may sound, many arts organisations may have grown beyond their capacity to deliver but in the present climate any threats of ‘fund us or we scream’ mentality may have no effect. Does this really happen, one might ask? Anyone who has been in funding appraisals, Lottery assessments or confidential internal reviews will know many an arts and cultural organisation has survived, if not thrived, by making threats. Yes, the threats may be couched in diplomacy or plain brinkmanship but it is inevitable that trustees and management will have seen the end of the road long before the Chancellor sharpened his knife.

b)      Buy time: This is not unique to arts and cultural organisations. Any enterprise which operates within a culture of accountability and respect for market forces will need time to work out various options for their survival or planning for the future. The experience of dealing with the annual 10% cut may not be enough.  Trustees and management will have to look hard at strategy and tactics, not just cost reduction.

c)       Innovate and lead: Many an arts organisation will say “ Ah but we are a very creative organisation and we have worked very hard to run a lean organisation”. Creativity will not win a race against Usain Bolt! It is time to innovate and put all those creative ideas into action. The recession should have already signalled arts and cultural organisations to stop being creative for its own sake. It is time to commit the organisation to a deep rooted resolve to benefit from the economics of innovation.

Mirador, for its part, will be working on several initiatives to promote the use of innovation to survive. As a leading arts player, we have always RESISTED opportunities to become the much cherished ‘RFO’ or regularly funded organisation. We have felt that RFO status can be restrictive; it breeds complacency on the one hand and also diminishes opportunities for innovation on the other. Mirador will campaign for innovation in the arts and cultural arena. It will address itself to a major sector such as dance but also aim to generate critical debate on why the creative industries must invest in innovation to prepare for the next economic cycle. Any student of A level Economics will know that recessions have a habit of coming back.

Calling Graduates!


Mirador has launched a new initiative which is primarily designed to engage graduates and students. The minimum background of students is A level.

Visit a new dedicated website at http://tripledfestival.wordpress.com

Didacticmedia aims to be largely student-led and invites graduates and senior students of film, multimedia, documentary, journalism and communications to join our volunteer engagement programme.

The focus of graduate involvement is to seek early participation as graduates and senior students begin to take part in critical debate, policy and production. Their involvement will be proactive and aimed at giving 10-15 new graduates each year to become voluntary members of the Management Board and new focus groups under supervision. Other graduates and students can get involved in a range of voluntary activities which will give them practical work experience and ample opportunities to stimulate the future development of Triple D by confirming long-term roles in research and development, creating markets, international collaboration, developing networks, writing new and dedicated columns and sections of this interactive site and also join the Didactic Media blog which is managed by Kalwant Ajimal.

As voluntary members of the Management Board, graduates and students will have opportunities to become involved in programme development and dedicated roles from one of the areas identified above. Terms and conditions will apply.

Graduates and students are also invited to visit http://documedia.ning.com  If you wish to join, you have to apply for an invitation.   

Graduates and senior students who wish to join us in any of these capacities should contact me by email. The contacts are

Kalwant Ajimal FRSA

Founder, Didactic Media

The Triple D Festival of Documentary

Email: kalwant.ajimal@btinternet.com

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Mirador Invests in Mainstreaming

Kersi Rustomji is 75 years old and was born in Uganda. He is one of the thousands of Ugandan Asians who fled the country when the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin gave the Asian community 90 days to leave. Kersi, who is from Parsi, or Parsee, Indian background went to Australia and settled there.

His writing is fascinating and those who understand Parsi culture, Kersi sees the world around him through Parsi ‘eyes’ and often mixes two or three languages to write about issues that matter to him

The advent of digital media has been beneficial to many writers and lobbyists. It consists of developing new weblogs or blogs, websites and video materials and accessing popular networking sites. My own work in digital inclusion consists of three parts:

  • Helping creative people to reach audiences
  • Helping mainstream audiences to reach unique work but not necessarily new work.
  • Helping individuals and organisations to develop capacity and capability to access and outreach programmes
  • Helping individuals and organisations to develop networking initiatives through new joint ventures, networking programmes, partnerships and funding initiatives.

A campaign to support Kersi Rustomji to reach audiences–  

a) To reach hard to reach people, community groups and organisations which may be considered “hard to reach”- a major commitment to ensure that lack of technical knowledge does not exclude them from the world of communication and audience development and

b) To develop new audiences, for example, structured support to create and retain new audiences.

c) To forge, develop and join new collaborations

The second objective of my campaign consists of the reverse – creating access to new and innovative   artists and writers through ‘mainstreaming’ a programme of action which consists of proactive action to identify interesting work and to support the development of networks. The third part of the campaign is to help prospective collaborators to develop capacity, joint ventures and new funding options to create new work or to upgrade existing work where needed.

 Kersi Rustomji’s earlier work can be accessed by visiting this site: http://kersirustomji.blogspot.com/