Culture is not a commodity that can be bought and sold, says Mairi McFayden – it’s something we all hold in common.
This month I have been on a journey from Shetland to Dumfries reflecting on creativity, community and cultural commons. In the last of the summer sun I sailed north across the whale road to a conference organised by the Centre for Rural Creativity, University of the Highlands and Islands, in partnership with Shetland Arts, at the Mareel.
Invoking the old Norn dialect word for where the shore meets the sea, the event was called Shoormal – an invitation to explore issues of creative practice, collaboration and the “shifting sands in the creative economy”.
Artists, archaeologists, ethnologists, peat bog restorers and many more came together to reflect on how we might sustain community and creative cultural activity in local places – with a particular focus on the islands – recognising in particular the vital role of arts, culture and heritage.
My own contribution was to a lively workshop conversation session interrogating the ideologies underpinning the so-called “creative economy” in its current form, suggesting the model of the “cultural commons” as a liberating alternative to the status quo.
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