One size fits all: defining the creative industry

Creative industry as an accelerator

Richard Florida seems to be an important inspirer and worldwide driver of the opportunities of the creative industry with his book “The rise of the creative class” from 2002. However, the added value of creativity and the creative industry has been praised and criticized for a long time.

This is accompanied by a discussion about the definition of the creative industry. The discussion ranges from the flexibility of the term culture, of which one can wonder whether this applies to the cultural sector, from so-called high and low culture, to a broadly formulated business cycle that is involved in the cultural end product.

However, the discussion about the definition process is ignored and outweighed by the interests of the government to use the sector for other purposes. It has led to economic policies for the sector. The creative industry is used as a vehicle and is seen as a catalyst for the economy.

One size fits all?

The idea of ​​a cultural industry originated in the 19th century with the emergence of the bourgeoisie and mass production. German social philosophers Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer were the first to introduce the term “cultural industry”. It was an attempt to draw critical attention to the commercialization of the arts, as the legacy of the Enlightenment. The two philosophers already heralded developments in the future.

The position and significance of the arts was given a more dominant place by the establishment of the European Community. After WWII, European policy saw the opportunity, particularly in the arts, to promote democracy and aimed to make art accessible to the wider public. As a result, the cultural industry had the opportunity to grow and develop, partly thanks to the released subsidies. The emphasis was on specific sectors such as film, media and cultural heritage.

Australia as a creative nation

The Australian government led by Prime Minister Paul Keaton first spoke in 1994 of creating a creative nation. Keaton assumed that culture creates prosperity, adds value and contributes to innovation, marketing and design. The degree of creativity determines the ability to respond to new economic developments and pressures. This philosophy was soon adopted by countries such as Canada, New Zealand and England. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Blair, England brought the creative industry to Europe as an economic flywheel and established a Creative Industries Taskforce. In 2004, sociologist Hans Mommaas introduced the advantage of a creative cluster as a requirement for the developing knowledge economy in the Netherlands. In it, he emphasized city marketing, encouraging an entrepreneurial attitude to art and culture, encouraging innovation and creativity, breathing new life into old buildings, and promoting cultural diversity and democracy. The advantages of this cluster formation, for innovation and economic growth, had already been described by economist Schumpeter in his “Innovation Theory” (1912). The appeal for politicians to make a policy choice for the creative industry is still in this capacity for innovation.

European definition

Not only at national and regional level in The Netherlands there are differences in the definition of the creative industry, but also in Europe and its various Member States. Where in countries such as Spain and Italy, for example, gastronomy (food and wine) is part of the creative industry, some Scandinavian countries and England add ICT to the sectors.

The differences are in the definition used, the number of sectors and the combination of sectors. It seems very much that the definition of the creative industry by the various governments of the European member states is culture and purpose.

The European Union itself uses two different definitions. The published green paper ‘Unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries’ by DG Education and Culture, part of the European Commission, defines the creative industry as an industry that produces and distributes goods and services that, given their specific nature, use or purpose , shape or communicate cultural expressions, regardless of their possible commercial value. In addition to the traditional art sector (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 magazines. ICT and cultural tourism are excluded. Public and commercial organizations belong to the same group.
The second definition is from DG Enterprise of the European Commission and defines the creative industry as anyone involved in the creation of products, services and activities to be marketed that depend for their value on a creative or artistic input.

I can only draw one conclusion and that is that the definition has become diffuse. Is that bad? I don’t think many people will be awake. What I do notice in practice is that there is confusion for whom, for example, certain meetings or arrangements are intended. The differences in definition for research are also very inconvenient and not transparent. You quickly compare apples to pears. I also think that a wrong intention has emerged about the top sector creative industry and the related ambitions.

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