Professor Andy Pratt attended the launch of an important report yesterday on 23 April 2013 at NESTA. The Manifesto for the creative economy seeks to re-energise what has become a rather moribund topic in UK government circles. It contains a 10 point plan for action : http://www.nesta.org.uk/home1/assets/features/a_manifesto_for_the_creative_economy
The report follows on from NESTA’s Staying Ahead report (2007) which was the last attempt to keep the creative industries debate alive.
Andy notes that NESTA’s work in recent years, especially on innovation and city clustering has stressed an economic lens and the collection of economic data. The current report offers some updated economic data that clearly underlines, if such emphasis were needed, that the creative industries have outperformed the rest of the economy, and contribute close to 10% gross added value (that’s the economy speak for real earnings for the economy, that’s the same scale as the banking sector to get a sense of its import), and around 10% employment in the whole economy. In any period it would be an oversight to ignore this, but in a recession (and the creative industries have not gone into reverse like the rest of the economy) it’s perverse.
Andy points out that it is sad that whilst this report does keep the debate alive, it does not address the regional dimensions of the creative economy, or the international dimensions. Moreover, focusing still on the output aspects it ignores much of the process of the creative economy, its organization and labour conditions; as well as the relationship between the not-for-profit and informal sectors, and of course the arts more generally. All of these points are live in international debate on the creative economy, sadly not reflected in the UK which held a symbolic role in ‘leading’ the debate in this field.
In an unrelated press conference the Minister of Culture announced in her first speech on the arts today (www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/apr/24/british-culture-commodity-maria-miller) that culture should be seen as a commodity, and that recognizing the exchange value of culture is the way forward in justifying its funding.
Andy comments: at last, after the storm of the Olympics and Leveson (which has buried the DCMS) we can hear the current administration’s views on culture. She also makes a strong case for cultural diplomacy. Both lines of debate have clearly been sui generis for the current administration, now we have them stated.