Cultural Industry Memo

Commissioned by Jamie Allen, César Reyes Nájera, Ethel Baraona Pohl, Didn't You Get the Memo?, Article, 2022

Cultural Industry: University, Museum, Gallery, All of the Above… You Name It

November 4, 2024

TO: All Cultural Producers of Cultural Industry

CC: @320×,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

FROM: O. Russolo (

SUBJECT: A Set of Guidelines for Inviting Guests

Esteemed Cultural Producers, as of today you have a new boss: me. How is that possible? “Invest in yourself”, they said, and that’s exactly what I did: A lucky streak in cryp*o allowed me to multiply exponentially the tiny fees collected in a decade of participation in the Events hosted by your – our! – enterprise, Cultural Industry. The first thing I decided to do with this money was to acquire it. I won’t deny it: like many other Cultural Workers, I felt a certain frustration, but my attitude is constructive. I just want to make things better and, finally, we have the resources to do so.

There is so much to improve, but we gotta start somewhere. So, after long deliberation with fellow Cultural Workers (cfr., I formulated these guidelines. I’m confident that you will strictly apply them when inviting Guests.

  • Let’s begin with the basics. From now on, you will relinquish the nasty habit of withholding the fee amount in the very first interaction with Invited Guests, even – dare I say, especially – when the fee is symbolic. You won’t make them feel uncomfortable by asking at the bottom of their reply. Also, to hell with “symbolic”: from today, fees are raised by 25%, courtesy of bitc*in.
  • You won’t keep the Event format ‘open’ and pretend that’s a way to involve the Invited Guest, when in fact you’re covertly outsourcing your curatorial work. Instead, you will come up with a clear structure first and ask Guests if they’re happy with it.
  • However, you will also not over-regulate the Event. If the criteria you set are too strict and specific, the Guest’s contribution won’t be re-usable in other contexts. Remember: you invited the Guest because you like their work, so you will make sure that they can show it on their own terms. Even better: you’ll give them carte blanche (pardon my French), because you want them to invest their time and energy in crafting their content instead of deciphering your format.
  • Corollary to the above: You won’t schedule unnecessary calls with the Invited Guest to discuss and define the Event. Remember: you’re paid during that time, they aren’t. In my experience, one call is good, zero is great (but I’m telephonophobic, so).
  • You won’t be sneaky and insert an extra task after the Guest has already accepted the terms of the invitation. WYPIWYG: What You Pay for Is What You Get.
  • You will include all the relevant information in One. Single. Email.
  • Shit happens: things get delayed and you become the one who has to sort things out, quickly. If you need something ASAP (say, an abstract), ask for it, but remember to specify that it is an emergency. Guests are generally kind people, they will do their best to help you out.
  • You won’t ask the Guest to pay upfront for travel and accommodation, as this can cause anxiety (“will they pay me back if, say, the flight is delayed?”) or the Guest might be short on cash. That said, you won’t just go ahead and book the first option you come across. Instead, you’ll present Guests with a couple of options and ask them if they look good. No more departures at 5:03 AM to save 15$ of Cultural Industry’s budget.
  • You won’t ask for the slides too much in advance, knowing all too well that Invited Guests will still be working on them the night before the Event. Are you stressed out by last minute stuff? Don’t be. Guests do it to take into account the contributions of other ones or an interesting development they want to include. Last minute presentations are good!
  • You will make time for the technical setup and double-check that all possible connectors to the projector, the speakers, etc. are there. Don’t let your Guest find out about the venue’s available plugs and devices only after arriving on site.
  • While it is more convenient for you to have all the presentations in one device, a Guest might need their own for various reasons. If that’s the case, make sure to allocate time for shifting the device and try it out in advance. For more detailed technical guidelines, please cfr. the memo dispatched by @despens on November 1, 2024 (
  • You will learn the following motto by heart: “Eduroam is not a given”. Give the Guest Wi-Fi credentials ahead. Cultural Industry has a Guest account: what a nice coincidence!
  • You will be aware that if you ask for a PowerPoint or Keynote (which you shouldn’t do in the first place), custom fonts won’t be displayed creating a general and unnecessary frustration. From now on, the word ‘PowerPoint’ is banned, by the way.
  • If the Invited Guest is coming from abroad you will do your best to attract an audience, without expecting them to do Event promotion for Cultural Industry.
  • When it comes to the pronunciation and spelling of the Guest’s name, you won’t improvise. This is not Starbucks.
  • You are akin to the Greek god Chronos: in charge of time. If a Guest takes more time than allocated for their presentation (hence shortening another Guest’s one), you’ll be firm and kindly stop them. Attention is a scarce resource that should be equally distributed.
  • Picture yourself as a medieval knight who swore to protect the princess (the Guest) from paperwork. Micro-contracts are generally to be avoided. If a Guest can invoice, let them invoice: that’s the easiest. You don’t want them to waste two hours filling forms for a one-hour lecture. If you can’t avoid paperwork, let the Guest know in advance what documents are required, including those obnoxious tax-related declarations from abroad.
  • Do you want to record the Event? You will ask the Guest for permission in advance, not when the camera is already set up in the venue. Do you want to publish the recording online? Same story. “For archival purposes” means just that. If you “do first, ask for forgiveness later”, you won’t be forgiven.
  • When the Event is over you will immediately send information about payment. But that is not where your responsibility ends. You are relieved of duty only when Guests are paid. If things go wrong with paperwork, transfers, banks etc, you won’t ghost them.
  • CONFIDENTIAL: You will consider an invitation to, say, give a talk not so much as a service provided by the Guest to Cultural Industry but as a form of support to them; a stealth OnlyFans, if you will. Because you know all too well that the Invited Guest is always working, mostly unpaid, on those stuff you like.
  • Finally, you will understand that while being quantitatively clear is important, it’s necessary to handle the ambiguities of collaboration. You will ask yourself: how can I be fair and kind within informality?

Yours Sincerely,

O. Russolo


P.S. I just introduced the 3-days working week for all Cultural Producers, and myself. Yay!