No. 8

Danger! Blasting of ivory tower in progress

My eight-week stay in New York was crowned with success – Maya, my English teacher, offered to help me organising a little exhibition on the premises of EC English Language Centres in the heart of Manhattan’s Times Square.

Exhibition_language school
Fig. 1: Rageth. 2013. Structuristic artworks displayed for all students at EC English Language Centre in New York

The board of management of EC English Language Centre was so keen on our art project that they wanted to support us – they treated the attending students with a wine-less (!) wine reception and a food voucher (the fancy price as mentioned in Figure 1).

Art Exhibition_EC
Fig. 1: Rageth. 2013. Exhibition Flyer

Seeing the interest of all those English language students, feeling their excitement whilst perusing the artworks made me feel very proud. Even though it was only a little vernissage. One of the teachers even adapted his class to the paintings – his students were asked to analyse and describe them.

“Culture is a source of prosperity and cosmopolitanism in the process of international urban competitiveness through hosting international events and centres of excellence, inspiring creativity and innovation, driving high growth business sectors such as creative industries, commercial, leisure and tourism, and increasing profile and name recognition (…)”

(Comedia Consultants 2003, cited in Pacione 2015: 389)

Looking back I felt as if we were creating a beginning through our industriousness, such as Poole states “the tension between culture and industry, where culture produces an industry and industry produces a culture” (2010: 1).

But does practice need (in the worst case dry, in the best case fruitful) academical research? Or do we academics just like to hang out in the ivory tower?

Retrospectively, research and evaluation processes seem a vital part of my experience leading a Structuristic Art workshop in New York, because progress can only be fostered through examining proceedings. I believe especially semi-structured interviews with the artistic attendees and a more quantitative approach with a (through research to be defined) target group could have been of value, because “talk to everyone and you’ll sell to no one” (Rivera 2014).

difficultiesThe Structuristic Art technique has been developed over 25 years ago, there is a huge amount of “inductively collected data and knowledge to newly formed theory which then could be tested (and perhaps refined) by collecting further data. Deductive research entails the development of an idea from existing theory, which is tested by gathering data” (Fox 2014: 21, 22). I believe a more specified target group (which is vital in order to earn enough money to make a living) could be identified by a deductive research method in combination with a “mixed-methods approach…

(…) because it will become increasingly necessary to ‘custom design’ highly targeted event experiences, which must be based on greater knowledge of the event experience in all its dimensions” (Getz 2008, cited in Shipway 2015: 458).

One major challenge regarding inclusion of the various evaluation processes is definitely to stay on top of time-consuming data collection. In my case the painting lessons should also ideally be the time where I gather valuable information in order to keep the business running (self-employed!).

time.jpgMaybe a “process model for event management” as envisaged by the “EMBOK committee (‘event management body of knowledge’)” might be a comprehensive idea because “the advantage of a process model is that it emphasises time in every aspect of the model” (O’Toole 2011: 165).

To sum up, I can say that my time as a Structuristic Art workshop leader was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The initial activities were unplanned and bush telegraph was my faithful friend, but in order to increase especially chances of pecuniary success, a lot of planning, research and evaluation has to be done.

Maybe the academical ivory tower doesn’t need demolition after all…!


B i b l i o g r a p h y

COMEDIA CONSULTANTS. 2003. Releasing the Cultural Potential of our Core Cities. Core Cities Group.

FOX, Dorothy 2014. Doing Events Research. From theory to practice. London and New York: Routledge.

GETZ, Donald. 2008. ‘Event tourism: definition, evolution and research’. Tourism Management 29(3), 403-28.

O’TOOLE, William. 2011. Events Feasibility and Development. From Strategy to Operations. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

PACIONE, Michael. 2015. ‘The role of events in urban regeneration’. In Stephen J. Page and Joanne Connell (ed.) The Routledge Handbook of Events. London: Routledge, 385-400.

RATCLIFFE, Susan. 2012. Little Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. Fifth Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

SHIPWAY, Richard. 2015. ‘Quantitative and qualitative research tools in events’. In Stephen J. Page and Joanne Connell (ed.) The Routledge Handbook of Events. London: Routledge, 450-469.

F u l l   l i s t   o f   f i g u r e s

Figure 1. RAGETH, Onna. 2013. Structuristic artworks displayed for all students of EC English Language Centres in New York. Private collection: Onna Rageth.

Figure 2. RAGETH, Onna. 2013. Exhibition Flyer. Private Collection: Onna Rageth.

F u l l   l i s t   o f   w e b s i t e s

POOLE, Simon. June 2010. Fan Behaviour – Cultural and Generic Changes. Available at: [accessed on 18 March 2017].

RIVERA, Carol Lynn. 7 May 2014. ‘web.’  Talk To Everyone And You’ll Sell To No One: How To Find And Target The Right Customers. Available at: [accessed on 31 March 2017].

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