martes, 31 de marzo de 2015

Our student Jose Gamboa: "The Postgraduate Degree in Cultural Management has taught me a lot about the inner workings of cultural institutions and cultural industry"


José Gamboa. Cultural Management UIC
Jose Gamboa Teehankee



We have the pleasure of introducing Jose Gamboa Teehankee, student of our Postgraduate Degree in Cultural Management. Jose is from the Philippines and he studied Humanities in the Ateneo de Manila University

A few days ago, we interviewed him in order to know more about his previous experience. This interview also confirms the obvious multiculturalism of our students: during this academic year, we have students from more than 20 countries around the world.




Question. Jose, your studies have always been related to Humanities which allowed you to develop yourself professionally by means of different jobs. Could you tell us more about your studies and about their influence in your professional development? Which of your projects, before your arrival to Barcelona, has been the most satisfactory?

Reply. When I started out, a career in the arts was not viable; the creative industry had not yet really manifested itself in my city. I was never encouraged to be an artist, and there weren't a lot of options as far as schools were concerned. I took up Humanities for my undergraduate, studying basically a little bit of everything, from philosophy, environmental science, to economics, then a few years later, I took some units in education at the state university because by then I had started teaching. I taught reading, english, literature, grammar, and during the summer breaks I taught swimming or art to children. Before I came to Spain I was teaching illustration for comics at an arts college and did a brief stint as an art diector for big agency, but I quickly learned advertising was not for me. All the while I was moving from job to job, the constant was I was always doing art work, but until a few years ago, I was not really treating it as a career because it's difficult to sustain oneself as a full-time artist. 

Three projects I consider to have been most satisfactory have been my self-published comics and storybooks, participating in art fairs and exhibitions (where I was able to sell), and a 13 foot installation I was commissioned to create for the lobby of a building in the central business district.


Q. Philipines is 11857 Km. away from Spain. How did you decide to study this Postgraduate Degree in Cultural Management?

RIt is a long story, almost as long as the flight from Manila to Spain (19 hours)  and one that I cannot go into much detail here. But the short version is I was looking for english programs in Spain related to the arts, and an acquaintance of mine, a Spaniard who had been living in Manila for over 30 years, recommended the Arts & Cultural Management program of UIC.


Q. You have been in Barcelona since September 2014. As we can read in your blog, you barely had time to unpack your luggage. Six months later, how do you describe your experience as a student of this programme?

RAs a whole, I would say that the experience has thus far been positive. I believe that there is no such thing as a negative experience, but even the difficulties I've encountered (bureaucracy for example, when opening a bank account or applying for the NIE) have taught me a lot.

I've done two freelance projects as a graphic artist and worked part-time as a researcher since November for Lord Cultural Resources, a Canadian consultancy for museums, and in my free time I try to see as much as I can of Spain and continue doing art work. 

José Gamboa. Cultural Management UIC
Jose Gamboa Teehankee

My Spanish is still not the best, "pero poco poco va mejorando". I am also eager to learn Catalan. As an artist, I struggle with the business side, and the program has taught me a lot about the inner workings of cultural institutions, and even if I don't end up working for one, the classes are still beneficial to anyone working or interested in culture as an industry. 

Since arriving in Spain I've visited the most museums (sixteen so far) in the shortest amount of time, traveled to six cities, and have met a lot of amazing people, including members of the Filipino community here. This is largely thanks to the program, and for this alone, it has been worth the trip. And it's only been 5 months.


Q. José, you currently coordinate with Luis Meseguer (Audiovisual Communication student), a short documentary about the students of the Arts and Cultural management programme. Could you explain how this idea was born, what is your objective and in what phase are you now? 

RRight now I've written the storyline, begun to coordinate with the students, arrange for the use of the audiovisual room and equipment, and work out a timeline for the project. The idea was thought up by Masha Khodykina from Russia who works in PR and myself, and we wanted to somehow capture the journey of a cultural manager, and we thought it would be interesting to tell this story because of the unprecedented diversity of the program. We actually wanted to shoot the documentary all throughout the year, but scheduling and time management got in the way, so now the story is changing from the original concept. Luis and I met through a language exchange, and when I told him about the project he said he was interested.


Q. As we have said, you are from the Philippines. Because of the location of the university, this Master’s focuses mainly on the European and Anglo-Saxon realities. Could you give us your opinion on cultural management in your country and in Asia?

RIt is very interesting to observe the European/Anglo-Saxon model for cultural management, and to see the lecturers come to terms, and sometimes struggle, with their lack of familiarity with Eastern culture. In the english program there is a Thai, Indonesian, Taiwanese, and Chinese, and I admit, I am not as knowledgeable about cultural management in my continent as I would like to be.

Cultural management is still an emerging field in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, where I am from, and after 400 years as a Spanish colony, then 150 years under the Americans, our culture is very mixed up, and with this the challenges for management are very different from a developed country like Spain with a very mature cultural economy. However, being an emerging economy, and Asia in general being very bullish, it is where there is most room to grow, and there is a tremendous amount of talent that can be harnessed or directed. We simply need to adopt some of the systems and models that are applicable to our circumstances, and to develop and refine our own systems.


Q. Jose, on your site we have learned about the work you did as a visual artist, a writer and an illustrator and seen your portfolio, as well. A really great, original and creative work. Do you think that being in different social networks has helped you access the professional world? What would you recommend to those who are elaborating their portfolio?

RFor someone like me, who has a short attention span and who is a maven, meaning, I have this innate urge to share information with others, I tested pretty much all the social networks (pinterest being the exception), trying to see which worked best. I started writing for other blogs before I started my own, I regularly use instagram as a visual diary, behance as an online portfolio, linkedin as a CV and professional network, and I try to use the other social networks as efficiently as possible by linking them to a single profile.

But despite all this, nothing beats face-to-face, especially  when it comes to working the creative industry/cultural sector. Online gets you the referral, the connection, but offline is where real relationships are established and the dotted lines get signed.


Q. During this week, we heard that the Musashi battleship, one of the biggest boats in the history, was found in Filipino waters. It had been sunk during the Second World War with all of its crew on board. Because of this important discovery, have you thought about doing any cultural project about it?


R. When I was into scuba diving, I experienced wreck diving, which is one of the attractions, aside from just regular diving, that draws recreational and serious divers to my country. You can see these planes, submarines, battleships, and so on, lying on the ocean floor and becoming part of the underwater landscape. It is eerie and amazing. This latest discovery of the Musashi battleship headed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is interesting from a historical and archaeological standpoint, but at this time I haven't considered doing a cultural project on it.


Q. Jose, as a last question: in your blog you recommend some readings for people who come back to the classroom after some (long) break - Chris Gillebeau, The art of non-conformity and, Kio Stark, Don’t Go Back to School: A Handbook for Learning Anything -. Why do you recommend these readings and what do they mean to you now that you resumed your studies?

RWell, before Spain, I was looking at Canada, UK, Australia and the US as study destinations. They all had art/design institutions with great reputations, but they were all really expensive, and unless I got a scholarship, I couldn't afford their fees. But these schools were getting students, many of whom were going into debt just to get a piece of paper that did not guarantee a job in the field they were studying. Sometimes they weren't even sure about why they had chosen these fields.

These books talk about how to get an education without spending a small fortune or going into debt, and it also reinforced the whole 'learn by doing' philosophy that I had been practicing as a self-taught illustrator/painter/graphic designer. It gave me realistic expectations. It meant that I knew what I could afford and what I was getting out of the program... which is exactly what I put into it, and most of all, how much I learned when I was outside the classroom.