27 January 2011

Puls vs Kult

Today Rogalands Avis launched "Puls" - their cultural weekly addition to the newspaper. Will this be a competitor to Stavanger Aftenblad's "Kult"? Will we finally get a broad view and useful calendar on important art exhibitions and cultural happenings in the Stavanger region?

First of all, I have for a long time thought RA and SA should exchange names. While Stavanger Aftenblad is a regional newspaper for the south part of Rogaland county, Rogaland Avis is mostly writing about Stavanger. The same is visible in the cultural sections. A cultural magazine should cover not only the exhibitions within the municipality border of Stavanger, but also include venues like Kinokino in Sandnes and Hå gamle prestegard at Jæren, just to mention a few. After all the borders are not visible, and quite many cross these borders daily. Puls is not surprisingly Stavanger-focused, while Kult also includes the rest of South-Rogaland.

Then it comes to the definition of "culture". If the task is to cover all kinds of culture, sports included, there will be too much information. If all the "house band concerts", DJ sets and live screenings of Argentinian football matches are on the calender, we will drown in information. On the RA calendar I find that for instance both a vernissage at Kinokino and at Kunstgalleriet today are not included. The ideal solution would be to be able to choose or exclude for instance music, literature, movies etc. This is only possible on the web. This leads to the next question: Do we need this paper version? RA also run a webpage called "Siddisland", which seems like a mix of myspace, tourist information and advertisement space. The webcalendar is the closest we get to a fully functioning art calendar, even if fasr from all galleries are included.

What is the content of Puls and Kult today? Kult is on 24 pages, while Puls boast of 40. But almost one third is not about culture: 6,5 pages of car and shopping advertisements, 4 about food and 2 about exercise. That is a rather wide definition of culture. The rest of the pages are about music, movies and art. Puls on the other hand leave almost one third (7 pages) to the television programme for the coming week. Also a quite wide definition of culture, but the rest are features about literature, movies and art. Puls has 8 pages of mixed culture calendar for all February, while Kult has 5 pages for the coming weekend and week, divided into museums, galleries and other. A rather small part of both magazines are dedicated to visual art.

In my opinion we need both Puls and Kult. Even if they do not complete each other, together they bring a wider view than just one of them alone.

So, what is my suggestion? Well, look to other cities. I have seen good examples in different cities like New York, Copenhagen, Modena and Tallinn. The concept is an art map-calendar, with a map showing the spots of the galleries and art venues and a list of the on-going and up-coming exhibitions, their opening times and other info. These maps are distributed on major art spots and cafes around in the city. There was a leaflet like this as a cooperation between Tou Scene, Checkpoint Charlie and Folken for a short time some time ago, focusing on music. The same could be done for art. Or if a paper version is too expensive to make, create a web version!

my view on Aftenbladet's coverage on art is here

UPDATE: After waiting in vain for three weeks, I realized that Puls actually is issued only monthly, not weekly. This puts is far behind Kult when it comes to freshness and actuality.