Bautopia Culture & Creativity Conference Porto Oct 2022 Key Takeaways
I was lucky enough to be invited to the Bautopia Culture & Creativity Conference in Porto last week. It was a fantastic conference in a very beautiful city and I was fortunate to arrive for the weekend before the conference so I had plenty of time to explore. I am so glad that I did as the city really is beautiful and it also gave me extra time to explore the city’s creative spaces. Throughout my visit I walked a lot and saw a lot, met many interesting people and listened to lots of very interesting talks and panel discussions. Here are my top takeaways for the creative sector in Northern Ireland from my time in Porto both from visiting the city and from the conference itself.
Creative Hubs Are Growing Globally Yet Struggle for Support
The number of creative hubs are growing globally and they can and do provide huge social and economic impact and benefits to local economies. However they still aren’t widely understood and often struggle to access funding and support as they don’t fit neatly into either arts and culture or technology and innovation funding pots.(I was quite relieved to realise this issue wasn’t just a local one, but seems to be widespread)
Collaborative Workspaces & Cultural Projects in Rural Areas
There is a huge and growing potential within rural areas for both collaborative workspaces and cultural projects that are embedded within the local community and heritage. If done right the social and economic benefit of both is huge. At the conference we heard from Miguel Herrara Guiterrez and Ana Ramos from The Genalguacil Pueblo Museo. A cultural project set up in response to the brain drain within a small Spanish village which now draws top artists from around the world, over 20,000 visitors annually, has been featured in media such as the New York Times and has now started to reverse the population decline. I thought this was interesting for Northern Ireland and had huge potential for our rural areas.
Creative Confidence is Key
Creatives and artists have the ability to change things, respond to global social challenges and address complex issues. They just need to believe they can and be given the opportunity to participate in solving these problems. At the conference we heard some inspiring stories from Martin Larsson about Cross Innovation Labs where methods from the creative sector are used in other industries – e.g. finance, industry, the public sector or healthcare – to achieve cross-fertilization, contribute with different perspectives, and create innovation. It would be great to see this type of innovation involving a variety of artists and creatives happening in NI to address some of our many social challenges. The key takeaway for me from the conference was the power that creatives could have to create lasting change if they had both the self confidence and the confidence of their local communities and governments to innovate and problem solve. I think we have a long way to go in Northern Ireland to build this confidence, and I also think there is a role for collaborative workspaces and creative hubs within this work.
There is a Global Creative Skill Shortage
There is a current and growing skills shortage of creatives capable of solving future global and local social challenges and problems. Current ways of thinking must be unlearnt and new ways of working collectively must be reinvented rather than producing more of the same. Changing the education system will take some time, leaving the potential for Creative Hubs and organisations to step in and get involved in making these changes.
Accessing Finance and Protecting Your Intellectual Property Resources
Outdoor Spaces Have A Huge Impact
I know we don’t have great weather, but throughout the conference I noticed in each of the different venues and creative hubs we visited the beautiful outdoor spaces, a mixture of courtyards, gardens and terraces. Having access to these spaces and the fresh air and natural light had a huge impact on my focus and concentration and they felt like natural easy spaces for networking, conversations and connection. I left wishing we had outdoor spaces in our studios, I think it would make a big difference to the mental health and wellbeing of our residents as well as productivity and concentration.
This is more of a personal one, but I wish someone would open a fashion store in Belfast selling wearable independent local and European brands.