Monday, May 09, 2005

Creative industry

Creative class, creative city, creativity and ICT, creative industry. These terms tumble over my desk lately.

Recently I received from a business relation the book of Richard Florida The Rise of the Creative Class. I am rather suspicious of this type of book; they contain so many general and gratuity statements. In 1997 I was impressed by Allen Scott, who researched the breeding ground of creativity and came to the conclusion that cities were the best breeding grounds for creativity, if certain conditions were fulfilled. “Agglomerations are like fountainheads of inventiveness and localised competitive advantages.”, he wrote in his study From Silicon Valley to Hollywood (1995). Within those agglomerations networks in the cultural industries promote efficiency of transactions and exchange of information.

So it is not surprising that the term of creative city starts popping up. In The Netherlands Amsterdam, with the help of the government, is aiming at becoming the content capital of Europe. As usual Rotterdam and Amsterdam are always in competition, so Rotterdam puts the creative city as a spearhead for its brainport.

The link between creativity and ICT showed up on an invitation for a conference in Vienna (Austria) at the beginning of June. It is a conference held in the framework of UN World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis later this year. The organisers of the conference state as their aim: “ICTs in themselves are just useful for some people. But using and working with them creatively can improve the lives of many – by bridging the Digital Divide and Content Gap. Because creativity is not bound to being rich in terms of material goods, of infrastructure and access to networks. Creativity is a “natural resource” of the human mind, everywhere in the world. It is a matter of content. But as world economies focus on creating and improving technological products, the issue of content is considered insufficiently. Technology and what technology produces belong together – one cannot exist without the other. The ”what” however, the core of it all, remains a fraction of what it could be – due to an appalling lack of underfinancing.” The program of the Creativity and ICT looks very promising.

The creative industry is popular term. Looking back, I think it was called cultural industry in the time of the German philosophers Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer. There is also a French book about it published in 1983. But these days it is called creative industry. In a recent Dutch government document the creative industry was describes as:
• the sector of unique products in art and cultural heritage;
• the sectors of independent, reproducing and large scale goods: television and radio, publishing, music industry and festivals;
• creativity as added value: fashion, design, games, architecture and advertisements.
ICT is changing these sectors drastically. It did change them already for some time, but it took some time for governmental and non-governmental bodies to recognise. So now government bodies such as ministries of economic affairs and education are looking into the subject and are considering whether they should stimulate this sector and how. So studies are written again with the famous linear value chain model of creativity, production, packaging/marketing, distribution and consumption. Of course the model has changed due to ICT. Creation and packaging/marketing are the creative values, while production and distribution are the infrastructural values. Yet creation and production are intrinsically linked to each other, but also creation and packaging are intrinsically linked. So the value chain is more complicated than it used to be. So I will have some studying to do.

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