For this column, and some which will follow this, I take my ideas from the Creativity Economy Report series (2008 and 2010) of the United Nations; a study on the economy of culture in Europe commissioned by the European Commission (directorate- general of Education and culture), published in late 2006, and some suggestions made by readers and friends who were eager to help me in my planned cultural project for the Philippines.
According to Creative Economy Report 2008 (United Nations, New York 2008), usage of the terms “creative industries” and “creative economy” should be credited to Australia, which published in 1994 a report entitled, Creative Nation.
It was given wider exposure by policy-makers in the United Kingdom in 1997, when the government, through the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), set up the Creative Industries Task Force. It is noteworthy, says the UN, that the designation “creative industries” has broadened the scope of cultural industries beyond the arts and has marked a shift in approach to potential commercial activities that until recently were regarded purely or predominantly in non-economic terms.
In the process, the idea of “creative economy” as a new paradigm for economic development was born, especially with respect to the development of poor or developing countries.
A new development paradigm
The UN Creative economy report series is a partnership between the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
The first in the series, published in 2008, was instrumental in stirring worldwide discussion of the concept of “the creative economy,” but its authors were careful to stress at the outset that the concept was still evolving.
Creative Economy 2008 was subtitled “the challenge of assessing the creative economy: towards informed policy-making.”
The overview and introduction of the report explains the evolution of concepts and ideas. I quote it at length in the following paragraphs:
“In the contemporary world, a new development paradigm is emerging that links the economy and culture, embracing economic, cultural, technological aspects of development at both the macro and micro levels.
“Central to the new paradigm is the fact that creativity, knowledge and access to information are increasingly recognized as powerful engines driving economic growth and promoting development in a globalizing world.
“Creativity in this context refers to the formulation of new ideas and to the application of these ideas to produce original works of art and cultural products, functional creations, scientific inventions, and technological innovations….
“Creativity is found in all societies and countries—rich or poor, large or small, advanced or developing. The word ‘creativity’ is associated with originality, imagination, inspiration, ingenuity and inventiveness. Civilizations since time immemorial have been aware of these concepts. However, the twenty-first century has seen a growing understanding of the interface between creativity, culture and economics, the rationale behind the emerging concept of the ‘creative economy.’ ”
The concept is an evolving one that is gaining ground in contemporary thinking about economic development. It entails a shift from the conventional models towards a multidisciplinary model dealing with the interface between economics, culture, and technology, and centered on the predominance of services and creative content.
Five core group of activities
UNCTAD says there is a growing convergence on a core group of activities and their interaction both in individual countries and at the international level. These activities are:
1. The creative economy is an evolving concept based on creative assets potentially generating economic growth and development;
2. It can foster income generation, job creation, and export earnings while promoting social inclusion, cultural diversity ad human development;
3. It embraces economic, cultural and social aspects interacting with technology, intellectual property, and tourism objectives;
4. It is a set of knowledge-based economic activities with a development dimension and cross-cutting linkages at macro and micro levels to the overall economy;
5. It is a feasible development option calling for innovative multidisciplinary policy responses and interministerial action;
6. At the heart of the creative economy are the creative industries.
The creative industries
“Creative industries” can be defined as the cycles of creation, production and distribution of goods and services that use creativity and intellectual property as primary inputs. They comprise a set of knowledge-based activities that produce tangible goods and intangible intellectual or artistic services with creative content, economic value and market objectives.
Today, creative industries are among the most dynamic sectors in world trade. Over the period 2000-2005, international trade in creative goods and services experienced an average annual growth rate of 8.7 per cent. The value of world export of creative goods and services reached $424.4 billion in 2005. Those numbers have grown in the years since.
Nowadays, in the most developed countries the creative industries are emerging as a strategic choice for reinvigorating economic growth, employment and social cohesion. The so-called creative cities are proliferating in Europe and North America, revitalizing the economy of urban centers through cultural and social developments, offering attractive jobs, particularly for young people.
A significant finding of the 2010 report is that some developing countries, mainly in Asia, have started benefitting from the dynamism of the global creative economy, and are putting in place cross-cutting policies to enhance their creative industries.
What are the creative industries?
In its initial launch of the creative economy, the UK listed down the following as the main creative industries:
3. Art and antique market
7. Film and video
9. Performing arts
12. Television and radio
13. Video and computer games.
UNCTAD enlarges the concept of “creativity” from activities having a strong artistic component, to any “economic activity producing symbolic products with a heavy reliance on intellectual property and for as wide a market as possible.”
UNCTAD makes a distinction between upstream activities (traditional cultural activities such as performing arts or visual arts) and downstream activities (much closer to the market, such as advertising, publishing, or media-related activities.) Thus, the traditional cultural industries are a subset of creative industries.
We shall continue our discussion of the creative economy in my next column; and we shall tackle then some specific issues that are germane to the Philippines and the Filipinos.