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January 28, 2011 / Sophie_Paterson

The future of IP law, who’s asking you?

“The future of the economy lies in the highly skilled, technology sectors. For many of those companies their intellectual property is their most valuable asset.” Baroness Wilcox (2010)

The Intellectual Property Office sits within the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills and its remit is described thus, ‘responsible for the national framework of Intellectual Property rights, comprising patents, designs, trademarks and copyright. Its role is to help manage an IP system that encourages innovation and creativity, balances the needs of consumers and users, promotes strong and competitive markets and is the foundation of the knowledge based economy.’

our IP system should encourage creativity

There is currently a huge debate surrounding the Government’s ongoing Intellectual Property review which seeks ‘to identify barriers to growth within the IP framework, which consists of the rules and regulations covering how IP is created, used and protected in this country. It will particularly focus on how the IP system can be improved to help the new business models arising from the digital age.’ The six month review is being lead by Professor Ian Hargreaves (author of the report for WAG on the Creative and Cultural Industries in  Wales) and you can read the terms of reference  here.

For many years IP law has struggled to keep pace with the internet and advancing technology and it is hoped that the outcome of the review, which is due in April 2011, will have a huge positive impact on creative industries in the UK, making it easier to create, protect and capitalise on Intellectual Property. The government believes that the output from this review will make Britain the most attractive place in the world to start and invest in innovative technology companies.

Alongside this UK IP review, the European Commission is currently consulting on the implementation and impact of the Artist’s Resale Right. The outcome from that review could impact how artists or their estate benefit when a piece of work is resold.

DACS, a not-for-profit visual arts rights management organisation is seeking input from artists to inform their part in both consultation processes. Have your say. Do you know of other public consultations on the review? Let us know.

The IPO has issued a call for responses which closes on the 1st of March

Update: Lawrence Kaye has written an excellent piece on the topic here

January 26, 2011 / Sophie_Paterson

Wales China Cultural Industries Forum- Gaming Industry

With its growing importance in global industry and huge gaming industry, China is an obvious area for international investment. On Thursday 20th of January the University of Glamorgan hosted the second Wales China Cultural Industries Forum, bringing together digital games experts from across business and academia.

Professor Peter Robertson, who is the Dean of the Cardiff School of Creative and Cultural Industries has been building a network of UK experts clustered around the gaming industry. Professor Robertson said: “We are delighted to be hosting this prestigious event. The UK is the largest digital games consumer market in Europe – in 2008/9 video games sales were £1.62 billion with 114.2 million units sold. This summit focuses on the market opportunities between China and the UK in the Digital Games sector. It is a superb opportunity to bring experts from one of our key growth industries together with the cutting edge of research and development.”

Michael Rawlinson is the Director General of UKIE, the videogames industry’s representative for the UK Council for Child Internet Safety. He spoke on the blurring of business models in the videogame industry. Still a very young area videogaming is constantly changing as it responds to new users and platforms, smartphones and interactive gaming such as the Nintendo Wii have opened up entirely new markets in this massive growth sector. Rawlinson sees the industry’s ‘youth’ and the speed at which it can change as mutually beneficial assets in attracting investment, meaning that the industry can respond to frequent developments in technology better than more established disciplines such as journalism and publishing.

L-R Scott Andrews, Mike Thomas, Tony Hughes, Prof. Siyi Fu, Michael Rawlinson, Prof. Peter Robertson, Dr. Richard Evans, Prof. Jian J Zhang, Melanie Hawthorne

‘Industry Ambassador’ Tony Hughes is the Digital Content Specialist for UK Trade and Investment; he explained the changing demographics of gamers in the UK and China and the causes of those changes. Cloud gaming and social gaming via Facebook and other social networking sites have had a massive market influence and have heralded some overnight success stories for developers. Games consoles are relatively unpopular in China and most gaming is done online, meaning that there is huge scope for Welsh companies who do social game design in China. Hughes also stressed the importance of forming the right business partnerships when seeking to do business in China.

At the opposite end of the game design spectrum from some of the DIY apps described by Hughes was Jian J Zhang, professor of Computer Graphics at Bournemouth University’s Media School, who spoke about the need for investment in order to achieve realism and quality real time action in gameplay. Professor Zhang explained that at present when designing games the decision has to be made between believability and cost.  The research and development that endeavours to give us photo realistic facial animation, skin sliding, and realistic explosions is expensive and is at risk of becoming solely conducted by the companies who release triple A games. At present the UK does very well in the games market, but there needs to be greater investment in order to keep up; in other countries such as Canada there are tax breaks available for developers which make the markets in those countries very attractive to investors. Professor Zhang also emphasised the internationally recognised skill of UK animation graduates, as well as the need for physics and maths skills in game development, an industry which sees some of the most profitable returns possible from the marriage of Art and Science.

Mike Thomas, China Business Advisor and Manager for Wales at the China Britain Business Council, was promoting his organisation as an invaluable resource when thinking about doing business in China, whatever your industry.

You can view the slides from the speakers at the Confucius Institute webpages soon, and see tweets from the day by searching the hashtag #wccif on twitter.

January 17, 2011 / Sophie_Paterson

Pop up spaces

I first became aware of pop up shops as a ‘thing’ when reading an excellent Guardian Magazine article on the topic in October last year. Having just returned from the Edinburgh Fringe the idea of using temporary and ‘found’ spaces for the Arts was a very familiar one, like many fringe goers I’d experienced the temporary transformation of Masonic Lodges, pubs and even a hotel swimming pool into one of the 265 venues for the Festival.

St. Marys Street has 24 empty properties at the moment

However, the spaces Cochrane describes are empty; they are the ex-premises of failed businesses and of retailers who can no longer afford the overheads, symptoms of the recession and collateral damage from the success of internet shopping. These grey voids are the blight of high streets, arcades and shopping

centres up and down the country as they sit conspicuously lifeless, like missing teeth in a gleaming smile.

The Newport Empty Shops Project was one of the first of its kind in Wales and saw roughly 30,000 people visiting nine shops. During eight and a half months of residency the Project hosted over 1,600 days worth of activities and involved 200 local artists and organisations. Newport has shown that by encouraging such enterprise towns and cities can put creativity at their epicentre both physically and ideologically, thus getting more people engaged with the arts. You can see the spread of similar projects across the UK at the Empty Shops Network. Pop up arts spaces create a mutually beneficial relationship between commerce and culture. Retail units transformed into galleries, studios, workshops, performance spaces, and community centres bring colour and originality to the homogenized high streets that have been criticised for turning towns into characterless clones of each other. The variety and vibrancy brought by pop-ups can be utilised for regeneration projects and give run-down areas a new lease of life.

Pop- Ups are evolving from the grassroots squatter culture of their origins, and Kira Cochrane’s Guardian article provides the proof that the pop-up model has been embraced (but not yet ruined) by corporations. The transient nature of a temporary shop lends an exclusivity which is coveted by designer labels and even Alan Sugar sent his would be Apprentices to run pop up boutiques in Manchester’s Trafford Centre. It looks like Pop Ups are the new ‘big thing’ in PR and marketing.

In Cardiff ThinkArk has employed social design to create gallery space in Cardiff City Centre arcades and Project10 hosts quarterly contemporary art and design exhibitions in pop-up galleries.

As Wales Online reports 24 empty premises on St Mary’s Street and Cardiff City Council struggle to make their vision of a vibrant castle quarter come to life, perhaps it is time we not only allow the Creative Industries into Cardiff City Centre, but welcome them with open arms!

Here are Creatrium we’re creating a twitter list of creative pop-up projects, so please tweet us if you’d like to be included. Post by Sophie Paterson

January 14, 2011 / Sophie_Paterson

Getting started on Twitter, a guide to the guides

To the untrained eye, Twitter can seem like an impenetrable world of social media nonsense.  But  when friends and colleagues are evangelising about it,  and your news outlets are using it on a daily basis, you might start to wonder whether you should get on board.  If you decide to take the leap – it’s great, honestly –  there’s nothing more valuable than experimenting with it on your own. Having said that, there’s a great selection of guides on the Web to help you as you turn your tweetering first steps into microblogging strides.  Here are some of the best.

  • Mashable has an excellent guide to Twitter that gives you all the practical information you need – from starting an account, finding people you want to follow, posting your own tweets, re-tweeting other people’s tweets and attracting followers (still with us?).
  • Start to follow people selectively, gradually building up your feed as you start to recognise what is useful and interesting and what isn’t. Cultivate the useful contacts by looking at who they follow and interact with, and don’t be afraid to cull your list if you find you’re being bombarded with information about what people are eating for dinner or how hung over they are. Remember, the unfollow button is your key to quality control. As you follow more and more useful people you might want to start sorting them into lists.  Creative Boom has a list of recommended twitter management tools which will help you to organise your twitter feed to best effect.
  • As well as offering some good advice on what your Twitter feed might look like, the Web Designer Depot has an excellent glossary of terms for Twitter.  Some are a bit silly, but you don’t have to use them!   Examples include substituting ‘tweet up’ for ‘meet up’ and tweople for people – or, if you’re trying to be ‘down’, peeps become tweeps!   The Oatmeal has an astute explanation of the puzzling but important phenomenon that is #followfriday.
  • A friend once described joining Twitter as being like walking into a party where everyone else already has a drink and is chatting away.  It can be intimidating, but – as at a party – it’s easy to join conversations that interest you.  Creative Boom has a guide to tweetchat that will help you.  Don’t forget your manners, though.  Crediting sources provided by other tweeters – perhaps via a re-tweet or with a hat tip (HT) – will gain you followers; swearing will get you un-followed by other discerning users.  Remember that unless you protect your tweets (not recommended if you want to build a genuinely ‘social’ network) your Twitter feed is public – and be aware that you can never truly delete a tweet!
  • Getting to grips with the basic mechanisms and principles behind Twitter is easy, but ‘getting’it – that is, understanding its value and seeing why some people seem so obsessed with it – is somewhat harder.   Roba Al-Assi  has an amusing and informative take on the process in the four stages of “getting” Twitter. The writers of this blog are, needless to say, unapologetic stage 4 addicts.  Twittter can be daunting to beginners, but the benefits of using it far outweigh the awkwardness of getting started, so we urge you to stick with it!

Post by Sophie Paterson and Gill Allard

January 7, 2011 / Sophie_Paterson

Bare Knuckle Theatre

Having moved back to Cardiff after a four year absence I have been gratified to discover a thriving arts and cultural scene which seemed to be in its infancy when I left. Bare Knuckle Theatre is a prime example of one of the new and exciting arts groups which are emerging in the City.

Stephen Jones (on the left) and Simon Riordan rehearsing at The Gate

Bare Knuckle Theatre was formed in January 2009. I spoke to director Simon Riordan about the reasons behind starting his own Theatre Company, he told me that having done bar work he didn’t want to be one of ‘those’ men who sits in the pub lamenting what could have been ‘if only they’d had the opportunity’. He resolved to make his own opportunities and to provide opportunities for others to get involved in theatre and thus the idea for Bare Knuckle was born. The name Bare Knuckle comes from an important ethos behind the company,their motto being ‘Taking the Performance out of Performing’. They want to make theatre accessible to more people, to strip away perceived pretensions of style and technique associated with acting. By dealing ‘honestly and straightforwardly’ with theatre Bare Knuckle hope to broaden their appeal to both performers and audiences by focusing on characters and storytelling.

After bursting into life with a fundraiser and a successful musical extravaganza of A Midsummer Nights’ Dream in 2009 Bare Knuckle continue with Shakespeare in their current production of Twelfth Night. Which promises to be a timely and exuberant production of what is often called Shakespeare’s best comedy complete with live band! Simon is also planning a huge production of Romeo and Juliet next year. The intention is to branch out from Shakespeare and to take the company towards fulfilling its professional potential with a profit share production of Jason Robert Brown’s Songs from a New World and The Last Five Years in 2012. The company is run by a team of talented and committed volunteers who help with everything from accounting, to choreography. Though currently running on an amateur basis Bare Knuckle is a registered company and continues to professionalise, “I just wanted to put on a play!” Laughs Simon, who relishes being Director in both the creative and professional sense of the word. Bare Knuckle are still in the early stages of their life as a theatre company, but if their early days are anything to go by Cardiff can expect great things.

Their current production of Twelfth Night is on 7.30pm at The Gate Arts Centre in Roath, from the 6th to the 8th of January and you can buy tickets here.

post by Sophie Paterson

January 4, 2011 / Sophie_Paterson

Los Campesinos! Heat Rash.

I remember, ten years ago going into Woolworths (RIP), and buying my first ever cassette tape (RIP), Steps (RIP). A decade later and I’m contemplating the latest offering from Cardiff based indie troupe and one of my personal favourite bands Los Campesinos! It’s not a CD, or a vinyl, it’s not even an MP3. The product in question is Heat rash which the band describe as,

Los Campesinos! Art from their 'Sticking Fingers Into Sockets' EP

‘A quarterly ‘zine and music bundle, from our hands, to your front door, including exclusive writing, artwork, music and more besides, available only as a result of being a HEAT RASH member.  HEAT RASH is intended to allow us to act in the moment, to talk about what we want to, as a platform for other mediums of ‘art’, and to write and release songs in a more spontaneous way.  This will hopefully allow a less formal, more fluid, DIY vein of work to develop alongside, and outside, of our album releases.’

For just £25 a year (£6.25 an issue) Los Camps fans can get that extra experience, a physical item sent directly to them with exclusive content from the band. As  bands and record companies seek out innovative ways to approach their audiences many will risk devaluing their work by offering freebies, give aways and hyped up, but ultimately disappointing special features. Los Campesinos! have honed in on a business model which by creating a ‘pay-wall’ to exclusive quality content adds an implicit cult value to that work, which will add to the bands image and promote their more traditional outputs whilst strengthening their fanbase.

December 23, 2010 / Sophie_Paterson

Bill Gold- six decades of Iconic film posters

Bill Gold: Posterworks is published by Reel Art Press

Graphic Designer Bill Gold featured on BBC Radio4’s Front Row today. Gold is the man behind generations of film posters which have defined the genre and entered the imagery of cinema forever. One of his first works was the poster for Casablanca, regularly cited as the best film ever made. He went on to design posters for A Clockwork Orange, Get Carter, Bullit and Unforgiven. Gold has walked a fine line between art and commercial success, drawing in vast audiences to  cinema blockbusters and consistently creating Pop Culture icons. 

You can listen to the episode of Front Row on BBC iplayer for the next week. Gold’s work has recently been collected into one opus which includes a forward from Clint Eastwood, notes on his creative processes and previously unseen works from this Hollywood legend.