Creative economy: a new paradigm for PH development



First read
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:
1. Advertising
2. Architecture
3. Art and antique market
4. Crafts
5. Design
6. Fashion
7. Film and video
8. Music
9. Performing arts
10. Publishing
11. Software
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.


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  1. the UN is a useless organization. countries should create a new world organization where every company country has equal rights. this org is developed countries on top and 3rd world on the bottom

  2. Joshua Schneider on

    Mr. Yen, a very large dose of salt to go with your report. Your report was factual and well written (wish I could write as well as you do), but your report is pretty much obsolete. Points in questions, lets to to the Goldmans Sachs 2017 view.
    GS head honcho Jan Hatzius looks for 3%~35 mainly driven from the US. He quotes the US economy already at full employment. This is not a totally true statement when you look at the historical numbers of folks that have given up looking for a job. Unemployment is rampant in the US. Also the US has had historical zero percent interest rates for the last 8 years and billions spent in fiscal easing. Under new administration this hopefully will be allowed to change putting pressure (as always) on interest rates and the dollar. Link to Goldman Sachs below. One last point about the creative side of the US economy, The Globes awards went from rewarding artistic talent to bashing manufacturing talent. Seem they could not help themselves.
    Last, please read the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 Initiative, also linked below. It relies more on ETP’s or European Technology Platforms which employee folks at a much higher reward level.
    Our country offers many rich and rewarding areas of growth and income with our many talented and unique folks. Lets look for something at home that we can become a world leader in. Increasing the efficiency of food production for export comes to mind. The mining of the seas around us for food, minerals etc would be a positive move in a world needing more good sources of sustenance. The upcoming drilling for the oil and natural gas will be a windfall for the Philippines, if we can keep corruption as low as possible. This could be the engine that drives us so the taxpayers do not have to shoulder the bill.
    A lot depends on the ability for us to improve our infrastructure, which hopefully is coming. That would pave the way for foreign investment in our country and utilize our very productive citizens, while keeping families together instead of farming them out to all parts of the world.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this.