Cultural and creative industries in a nutshell 

Text: dr. Olaf Kranz (University of Regensburg, Faculty of Business, Economics and Management Information Systems)

Term and idea of the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI) are possibly best illustrated by an anecdote from Great Britain. Shortly after the Labour Party has been elected to power by a landslide victory in 1997, Tony Blair, then UK prime minister, hold a meeting with labour union representatives in order to explain to them “New Labour’s” new industry and economic policy turning from a focus on the traditional industrial sector to the service and financial sector. In order to legitimize this shift in focus, Blair told the unionists that he bet that the CCI would already add more value to the economy, employ more people, and export more value in goods and services than UK’s traditional industries like steel, cars, coal, ship production etc. The bet was placed.

However, the problem was that there were neither a proper definition of CCI nor a sound methodology to measure their value added, jobs created, and exports at this particular point in time. Shortly later, the UK Department for Culture, Media, and Sports established a definition for CCI, determined a list of sub-sectors fitting this definition, and launched the first CCI mapping document published in 1998.

Since this time, many (nationally) different definitions, lists of subsectors, and CCI mapping documents were established while we still lack a consensus about the ambiguous concept of CCI. However, one of the best definitions of the CCI has been proposed by the European Commission:

"Cultural industries" are those industries producing and distributing goods or services which at the time they are developed are considered to have a specific attribute, use or purpose which embodies or conveys cultural expressions, irrespective of the commercial value they may have. Besides the traditional arts sectors (performing arts, visual arts, cultural heritage – including the public sector), they include film, DVD and video, television and radio, video games, new media, music, books and press (…) "Creative industries" are those industries which use culture as an input and have a cultural dimension, although their outputs are mainly functional. They include architecture and design, which integrate creative elements into wider processes, as well as subsectors such as graphic design, fashion design or advertising.”[1]

While CCI are historically nothing new at all, their importance has constantly increased over the past decades starting in the 80ies of the last century. Connected to this development is the observation that many cultural as well as creative goods and services have increasingly been produced by firms while the share produced by public institutions or associations financed by resource transfers through public welfare subsidies is declining. In the meantime, the CCI belong in many countries to the biggest economic sectors in terms of its share on GDP, employment, and exports.

Beyond the anecdote from the UK under New Labour, the CCI have become the object of interest for economic policy in many countries also because of they tend to grow faster than the average economy. Thus, many countries support their CCI ecosystem because it has become the driver of economic growth providing many high value adding jobs in an increasingly IT driven, digitalized knowledge intensive economy.

The most profound effect of the CCI may possibly lay in their ability to change our way to innovate in the whole economy and to design our societies. The power of the CCI is to change our national innovation systems by knowledge transfers and many, often unnoticed spillover effects. Hence, the support of CCI has become even a target of innovation policy in many countries lately.

At the heart of the CCI is the recognition that wealth and jobs are increasingly created through ideas. One of the main messages of this observation is, that the sources of competitiveness shift at an accelerating rate beyond merely low cost and high productivity. Under those emerging economic conditions, countries and cities of all sizes are well advised to learn about and to acquire the new sources of competitiveness and to become smart and creative themselves. The StimulArt project aims at rising the awareness for this necessity particularly in medium sized European cities and to take first steps to design a better ecosystem for the local CCI.