Creative industries: Setting the research agenda (2009)

Rene Kooyman
Creative Business & Entrepreneurship | 16 September 2011
This article was previously published with the title "Minimize me! The creative industries setting the research agenda", in Creative Industries: Colourful fabrics in multiple dimensions edited by Giep Hagoort & Rene Kooyman (2009) (Eburon, Delft, ISBN: 978-90-5972-353-5).

The cultural and creative industries have gained momentum, both at the international and national arena. The United Nations have published their first world-spanning report on the creative economy. The European Union has-– as a consequence of the Maastricht Treaty— included culture as a new sphere of action. And the Dutch government has on its turn defined the creative industries as one of its focal points.

A first result of the Faculty [of Art and Economics, Utrecht School of the Arts]’s research program shows that the vast majority of creative entrepreneurs consist of individuals that form very small, micro-enterprises. These micro— or better “nano”— enterprises have been forgotten in the recent debates.

The research agenda will have to cater for this void. It will have to contribute to the formation of theoretical frameworks, empirical description and analyses, and policy development.

The Creative Economy: Growing interest
Recently the interest in the creative economy has gained momentum. For a number of years economists, social scientists, urban and regional planners have been interested in the relationship between the cultural, creative sector and economic development. This has cumulated into a vast area of governmental interest, political debates, and development policies. In recent times it is difficult to find a city council in the Netherlands that has not developed a policy document on the creative economy.

The research communities have followed suit. In the summer of 2008 five international, global organizations— UNCTAD, UNDP, UNESCO, WIPO and ITC— collectively published their Creative Economy Report 2008 (UNCTAD, 2008). At the European level the European Council expressed the need to maximise ‘“the potential of the cultural and creative industries”. (European Council, 2006). As a consequence the European Commission has rolled out a research program in order to create a better understanding of the creative sector. The Commission created a special agency— the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA)— in order to manage the studies on the creative industries. (EACEA, 2008a) In the Netherlands since 2005 the Dutch government has mentioned the creative economy as one of their main focus points. A research program including a quick scan of explicit national policies for creative industries has been programmed (Braun & Lavanga, 2007).

The concept of Cultural and Creative Industries
It is clear that there is no unique definition of these industries. Starting with the very broad name (Adorno & Max Horkheimer, 1944; Marcuse, 1991), the notion may also be referred to as only “cultural industries”, “creative industries”, “copyright industries” in the economic terminology, or “content industries” in the technological vocabulary (Marcus, 2005).

In classic economic circles, the road from the creation to production, distribution, consumption and conservation of creative goods meets individual and social actors with different roles in different creative realms. Different models have been put forward over recent years as a means of providing a systematic understanding of the structural characteristics of the creative industries. Under the leadership of UNCTAD, the United Nations has recently published its first system-wide perspective upon the creative economy: a document created by the joint forces of UNCTAD, UNESCO, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the International Trade Centre (ITC). In their collective Creative Economy Report 2008 a comparison is presented of four different models, highlighting the different classification systems that they imply for the creative economy. Each model has a particular rationale, depending on underlying assumptions about the purpose and mode of operation of the industries. Each one leads to a somewhat different basis for classification into “core” and “peripheral” industries within the creative economy.

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