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Cambridge art scene

By Rob Hurst

An article posted yesterday by The Guardian about the state of the art scene in Cambridge resonated with the team here at Omobono. Below is a collection of the team’s thoughts on how blending the arts with Technology leads to innovation and how we feel that Cambridge could fall further behind the London scene for growth and innovation if the creative industries are not give the opportunities that technical businesses receive.

Chris Butterworth – Creative Director

Art in Cambridge has always played second fiddle to science and technology. Not just from an individual’s point of view but also from a corporate one. However as a creative agency in Cambridge the last five years have seen a real coming together of art and science. Design (product and graphic) has become more valued by the technology companies as a legitimate way of standing-out to an increasingly innovation-tired public.

“Perhaps it’s not art or science in Cambridge anymore, perhaps it’s yin AND yang.”

Sian Wilson – Marketing Executive

I agree with Chris, art plays second fiddle to the academic status of Cambridge and London’s art scene. Art has been quite affluent in Cambridge for the last 5-10 years, attracting some big names at Kettle’s Yard and The Fitzwilliam Museum. Having worked in the arts, both gallery and agency side, (I personally worked with Aid & Abet, mentioned in the article, helping to set up their art space as a part of the CB1 public art scheme managed by Commissions East) I think a lot of the problems come down to funding and buy-in from the local authorities. A lot of the smaller, and some larger, organisations in and around Cambridge have had dramatic funding cuts in the last few years. Without the funding a lot of organisations/individuals struggle to survive let alone put a budget towards marketing and advertising, and getting their work/exhibitions/art spaces known. In the last few years a lot of the museums and galleries have partnered with science and academic institutions, blending art and science – although nothing new it helps to increase people’s awareness and change their perceptions of art. I think people’s awareness of the Cambridge’s art scene is getting better but there is a lot more out there than is known about or advertised.

Fran Brosan – Director

Cambridge has looked down on business historically and only appreciates art of the high culture variety (Matthew Arnold’s “Culture and Anarchy” currently being debated on Radio 4 this week). It’s just about got to grips with the idea of technology businesses, because they are based on clever ideas, as long as they don’t actually talk about on-going revenue and employment and stick to clever concepts like IP. The St. John’s Innovation Centre and the Science Park supported these types of businesses because they are based on widgets.

But the current culture doesn’t support creative businesses in the same way.

But with places like in Chicago and what’s going on at Silicon Roundabout in Shoreditch in London, Cambridge is ideally placed to pull these three critical strands together because it’s how the world works – technology just delivers content. And content is effectively creative. As a business that sits at the heart of these three, the idea of a creative hub here would be really welcomed.”

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