Industry Day 2013
by Jennifer Hilder (PhD Intern)
You might think that industry representatives and academics have little in common, but you’d be wrong. When I arrived at the College of Art’s first Industry Day last month: Glasgow University’s Hunter Halls were alive with people meeting old friends and making new contacts, and so it continued for the rest of a very successful day.
As the Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Arts, Professor Murray Pittock, rightly said in his introduction, the day was about two things: the “cultural capital” that the College of Arts could contribute and the “prospective benefits to the Scottish economy”. For me, it was the startling figures that Alastair Balfour highlighted that really brought the value of those two aspects to life: Scotland’s creative industries have a collective turnover of £5.2bn. Alastair estimated that heritage tourism alone, representing just one of the eight themes of Industry Day, brings a “direct payback” of £1.8bn to Scotland each year. Even though I was already completely supportive of the idea that the College of Arts should and could have profitable partnerships with business, these figures were incredibly motivating. Neither Alastair nor Murray could have done more to set the foundation for a day full of enthusiasm and positivity.
Dr Mark O’Neill from Glasgow Life amazed everyone with the figure (more figures!) that Glasgow Life is the largest organisation of its kind in Europe, managing 154 venues across Glasgow of all kinds. Making the most of all these facilities requires a great deal of skill and understanding, and it is there that the College of Arts can make a real contribution through collaborative research.
Collaboration became the buzzword for the day, I think, as more and more examples were given of ways that the College of Arts was already working with organisations, and how it could do so in the future. A student working as an intern for Doug Paine at the reggae sound system Mungo’s Hifi helped them to get a foot in the door of China’s somewhat impenetrable social media networks, whilst gaining experience for his own hoped-for development of the heavy metal scene there.
In between these talks, academics from the College of Arts manned eight stalls, one for each key theme of Industry Day. Feedback from the day shows that these were one of the most successful aspects, and attendees also really appreciated the networking opportunities that the lunch and coffee breaks provided. The case studies provided on the information stands were a useful “take-away” appreciated as much by industry representatives as fellow academics, interested in other projects going on outside their own subject areas.
After the break, the perspective of academics within the college strengthened the feeling that collaboration was flourishing and could do so further. Dr Saeko Yazaki is working with local communities raising awareness (separately) of Islamic and Japanese cultures in Glasgow. Zoe Strachan took us through her own busy timetable writing novels and operas, attending literary festival, undertaking residencies and fellowships across the world, doing community workshops, and, of course, teaching at the university.
The finale to the morning session was a three minute overview of each of the eight College wide Themes Industry Day centred around. The speakers included: Mungo Campbell, Cultural Education; Dr Ian Anderson, Digital; Dr Anita Quye, Dress & Textiles; Dr David Archibald, Film & Broadcasting; Dr Jeremy Huggett, Heritage; Prof Adrienne Scullion, Performing Arts; Dr Erma Hermens (standing in for Prof Nick Pearce) Visual Arts; and Prof Jeremy Smith, Writing & Publishing.
Following a networking buffet lunch, Professor Michael Michael shared the background to the 25 year partnership between the College of Arts and Christie’s Education in London, resulting in the development of new Masters programmes. Jenni Steele then described the productive relationship between VisitScotland and the College of Arts. Together she and Alan Riach, Professor of Scottish Literature, developed A Traveller’s Guide to Literary Scotland, which can now be found in all Scottish branches of Waterstones and the VisitScotland information points. Tony Pollard was another with a travel related presentation who impressed with his raft of experience and adventures in the world of television.
To round the day off, five PhD students: Luca Guariento, Ana Moraes, Sophie Kromholz, Julie Wertz and Vivien Williams, presented their research to the audience, demonstrating the potential their work has to fit in with industry objectives. Both internal and external attendees appreciated this learning opportunity and gave feedback that they would like to see more PhD students attending and presenting during the day.
The fact that Industry Day was attended by roughly equal numbers by people within the college (80) and industry representatives or other interested parties from outside the college (86) meant that there was a real mix of people to talk to. By putting all these people together in a room we hoped that the magic would start to happen, and it did – there have already been some very promising outcomes. All but one of the organisations that attended said they would like to work with the College of Arts and a similar majority of academics within the college were also optimistic about future opportunities. As a result, as many as 24 separate organisations have expressed a concrete interest in taking forward new projects in collaboration with the College of Arts – so watch this space!