Cultural Production in Theory and Practice

MA Thesis projects developed with the ULG MA in Cultural Production 2010-2012 at the University of Salzburg

The ULG MA in Cultural Production is an extraordinary program for further education at the University of Salzburg. By focusing on the interconnections between art, culture and media as well as political, economic and social processes, it balances innovative cultural theory with practice-oriented methods. The ULG MA in Cultural Production is a two-and-a-half year, part-time program for further education (90 ECTS) and is held in English. It is open to domestic and international students. The trans-disciplinary curriculum lies at the intersections of art practice, cultural and communication studies and a social science approach to economics.

The first program has started in fall 2010 and is now coming to an end. According to their personal interests, students have proposed their own project ideas and have further developed and implemented them throughout the course of the program for their MA Thesis – which they present in the following.

Content of the program

The art and cultural sectors are currently undergoing challenging processes of change. In the face of advancing globalization and due to new media having become more advanced, the distinctions between high and popular culture have become increasingly blurred. Economic, legal and political conditions vary internationally. New forms of work respond to these changes and trans-disciplinary interaction across regional and national borders shapes everyday work patterns. These factors demand new professional qualifications.

A working knowledge of cultural studies, artistic practice, project management and cultural economics are needed more than ever for the realization of sustainable cultural projects. The ULG MA in Cultural Production responds to such challenges. By defining culture as a daily practice, a specific form of artistic expression and as a site for new media production, the program analyses cultural production within its wider context. The range of activities undertaken by cultural producers is diverse: Cultural producers are specialists who lead the activities of cultural and arts initiatives and create, develop and initiate new cultural projects – mainly in evoking and creating collaborative processes.

The potential of cultural production to build interventions in the contexts of society, economy, media and politics presupposes a complex understanding of cultural conditions and connections. The aim of the ULG MA program in Cultural Production is to consciously shape and control the process by which cultural products develop and are realized on the basis of a critical engagement with contemporary cultural production. Contextual interconnections and the effects and potentials of change are analyzed and new ways of conceptualizing them are researched. The program has been designed to emphasize key qualifications that are required for cultural producers in the constantly changing art and cultural sector.

This MA is situated in the tradition of cultural studies as it has been developed by the pioneering work of the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS). Since then, the field of cultural studies has diversified and grown immensely. In its inter- and trans-disciplinary approach, it combines a variety of disciplines, including art history, communication, sociology, and political economics. In this MA program, we emphasize the variety and multiplicity of cultures in societies. The program draws on a conception of culture that defines it as both a product and a social process of how we interpret and understand the world (culture as „a whole way of life“, R. Williams). In this tradition, culture is seen to be lived, historically formed and changing over time and across space. We conceptualize cultural production as “encompassing a wide variety of artistic forms of expression and disciplines (including fine art, theatre, music, dance and public art), as well as cultural and media practices (like alternative media, Web 2.0 and culture jamming), all in relation to their social, political and historical contexts. We reject the point of view that restricts the definition of culture only to high culture, instead we view cultural production in its multiplicity as a daily practice and within its contextual embedding.

Elke Zobl, Elisabeth Klaus (2012): Cultural Production in Theory and Practice. In: p/art/icipate – Kultur aktiv gestalten #01 , https://www.p-art-icipate.net/cultural-production-in-theory-and-practice/