Conference, Opinions & Interviews

BILJANA MICKOV: Innovations contribute to an increased visibility of urban cultural development

Biljana Mickov is a culture scholar and editor. She graduated from the University of Novi Sad and holds a European Degree in Cultural Management from Brussels (supported by UNESCO and European Commission). She has edited several important books on the development of culture and cultural innovations for different publishers, and at this year’s European conference dedicated to the minority and local media, she will provide an introduction into the topic “Open City – Innovations in Culture”, which is what we talk with her about.

Innovations in all areas have been an everyday thing for a while now. In regard to innovations in culture, what are they, what do they reflect in and what are they bringing – what social benefit?

“We are living in a really accelerated time, innovations are unavoidable, they improve creative processes. Moreover, innovations encourage the creative sector in all directions, and include novelties in processes and services, and are an effective way for things to be done. Some theorists believe that innovations are more economic and social in nature than a technological term. I think that they are intertwined and closely linked. If we observe the sector of culture, they are very important, in the context of cultural policies in cities in particular. Innovations contribute to an increased visibility of urban cultural development, and they also put citizens into the centre of innovative process development, allowing them to create innovations by themselves. Open City is the new term used for that.”

Innovations in culture certainly include innovations in the media, which undoubtedly implies the “introduction” or “affirmation” of economy and entrepreneurship in the media, as the media are an important part of a cultural system. The media and journalists, in my opinion, do need to have entrepreneurial mindset. What is today’s position of the idea of entrepreneurship and economy bringing income instead of just costs to the media sector or media culture, in Europe and in Serbia?

“There are great differences when you compare Europe and Serbia. The contexts are completely different, primarily due to media freedom. I specialise in cultural policies and management. It is true that the media are an integral part of the entire system. Globally speaking, the classical media are gradually losing primacy over the networks and media platforms. It is also a form of innovation, if you consider the fact that the most profitable are those platforms and networks that include the media, this eloquently speaks of how profits in the media can be improved. It requires more democracy, and cultural policy is something that needs to be stable in Serbia, with a great growth potential, so that the media, too, can have a place for overall development.”

How is the idea of culture + media + economy + entrepreneurship + innovation changing together with the ways of its actualisation at the time when the way of communicating is generally changing (at the time of coronavirus) – what forms is it taking?

“The pandemic has a positive effect on the development of platforms, as they are used more, and different forms and possibilities are developing. If you take an example of publishing a book in China or Great Britain, the publisher, besides the classical, that is, printed book copy, has five additional digital forms of the same book placed on platforms and networks, which means that this kind of innovation is accelerating more and developing further. Moreover, it has become more important to make a short video or an interview about the book and place it on platforms than to publish them in the traditional way. These are digital innovations, and how it affects the social context is a completely different question. Policy is the one that has to regulate it to the benefit of the people.”

Photo: from the archive of the interviewee, B.M.