Listening and learning in Algiers to help Detroit

This is Matt Clayson. For those of you who don’t know me, I am the Director of the Detroit Creative Corridor Center.  Oddly enough, I am in Algeria with the U.S. Department of State and the Aspen Institute as part of a creative industries delegation. I don’t blog very often but I thought it would be beneficial to share some thoughts about the experience in Algeria and how it relates to our work in Detroit.

Photo courtesy of Matt Clayson

I arrived in Algiers yesterday. Today was spent listening and learning. Tomorrow will be spent providing entrepreneurial training. To be honest, one day of listening is not nearly enough to fully understand the needs of the community. Regardless, time is tight and our itinerary is ambitious, so one has to make the most of it.

A discussion amongst leaders in Algiers’ creative community consumed most of the day. Our role was to listen and to share limited feedback, when appropriate.

The discussion covered three core areas of need as identified by our Algerian hosts: the need for government support, the need for funding and the need for a unified advocacy organization. It then evolved into a discussion of language. Do “we” define ourselves as the “creative industries,” the “creative-cultural industries,” the “creative ecosystem,” the “creative-cultural ecosystem,” etc. It was a surprisingly familiar dialogue, only in Algerian French as opposed to Michiganian English. And the discussion about descriptive language?  It remains open.

Digging deeper, a few touched on core needs that appear to go beyond these rather familiar issues. The educational infrastructure for the creative sector is inadequate implicitly forcing many wanting to pursue careers and practices in the creative sector to study overseas. The result … a predictable brain drain. Further complicating matters, artists, writers, musicians and journalists were executed, murdered and assassinated during the Algerian decade of conflict of the 1990′s, apparently leaving few to educate the next generation of practitioners. To me, these issues need to be addressed to create a strong foundation for the future of the creative community in Algiers. I hope to learn more about these challenges and proposed solutions in the next two days.

Photo courtesy of Matt Clayson

Tomorrow, I have been requested to give a presentation about “Management, Marketing and Communications: The Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship.” Fortunately, it appears that I do not have to give the presentation in my rusty French. Unfortunately, I could use a few more days of listening and learning to help inform my remarks and ensure they are sensitive and relevant.

I look forward to sharing the presentation I give tomorrow … it’s a Prezi so I can link right to i.! Moreover, I hope to discuss some loose thoughts about our cultural/creative assets in Detroit and the role they play in connecting peoples, strengthening communities and transforming economies. And… if my wifi is good and strong, maybe a few pictures. Until then…

a demain.

Matt Clayson is the director of the Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3).  

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