Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Cultural and Creative Industries

The creative or cultural industries have become one of the strongest pivot points for EU policy. It is based on the assumption that they can bring about sustainable growth through innovation and creativity.

Adorno and Horkheimer spoke already about the cultural industries when they were in exile during Second World War in the United States and could observe how Hollywood functions. That aspect of cultural industries took hold in the European Union only much later. This part of the cultural sector extends itself by now to include small and medium sized media firms. They spring up wherever a major buyer of their products exists e.g. a state television company in Cardiff lead to multiple media companies specialized in certain film categories, in particular animation films. These kinds of  creative clusters can multiply and forge ahead as a director of animation films needs a special studio while next door some graphic designers could help improve the images of the cartoon figures in the film. Next to that are within a similar cluster the advertisement firms and companies with various other functions needed to be serviced, in order to complete the cultural infrastructure of that particular sector.

Partly this development is now reflected in the terms used by the EU when wishing to fund and to promote the Cultural and Creative Industries. However, that policy direction choses to ignore the criticism that Adorno and Horkheimer leveled against this industrial use of culture.

A lot can be learned from Hollywood. Michael Storper revealed in his studies already in 1987 that the power of the big studios reflects a specific organisational strategy. The mistake in the European perception is to focus solely on the entire redistribution system which is at disposal of the studios in Hollywood and does not follow-up how new media alters production conditions. This will be even more the case once digital film may do away with cinemas and the showing of films on large silver screens.

Cultural and creative industries are not only about structuring organisational capacities to bring about specific products. They are affiliated to a much wider scope of culture than is normally assumed since the real source of everything is inspiration and a belief in a kind of success hardly ever to be copied by others. This sense for uniqueness has been a key problem for any culture.

Adorno links the search for the 'sui generis' to aesthetical reflections which determine the self-understanding in articulated form. This cannot be reduced to mere gimmiks or just the language of commericals even though once new media was introduced even famous film directors like Fellini could not resist and made one minute commercials because a lot of money was offered and the chance given to try out the new technology. When Fellini did that, many took this a break of ethics. Equally Wim Wender protested at first against the influx of new technology as if it would destroy the film as a true version of cultural expression; five years later he had adopted quite another, that is pro technology position. Not surprisingly he went so far to proclaim by 2011 that Europe needs propaganda techniques to sell its image successfully. Enshrined in that statement and which is endorsed by members of the European Parliament seeking a way to sell the European Union to a population reluctant to endorse everything coming out of Brussels, is a deterioration of the critical position artists and film makers used to take when it was still a matter to bring culture in from the margin.

By the time the latest version of Hobbit hit the cinemas, that experimentation with new technology had gone through a tremendous innovative process but with deep implications as to the narratives told. Most of them tend towards apocalyptical types of dramatization and if not war, then creatures from outer space have to be invented or else a dramatic natural disaster. This extreme language means the nuances of self understanding so important for any cultural development are no longer addressed. Instead the virtual world transcends reality in a way that reality shows wish to reinvoke a human sense of drama but always on the dark side of the moon. Of course, Michael Moore put his finger on this trend by saying it amounts to doing business with 'fear'. Unfortunately any EU policy tuned into only the economic aspect of such a cultural drive will leave out the critical reflections in need of, if a humane language is to be retained and art still being considered as skill to keep a sense of proportions (Van Gogh).

Instead the EU approach seeks merely to make accessible Cultural and Creative Industries to the mechanisms well known in a market driven by the profit motive towards a quantifiable success criterion. Things are funded under conditions which allow the investments needed to be calculated in terms of very specific risks which are involved when wishing to market a certain film. A slight deviation is allowed in film when a cultural dimension is added and therefore the Media Programme can be used to bring out a human side of this commercial world e.g. 'the crazy tourist organization in Krakow offering to visitors insights into how former Communism came about with Nowa Huta outside of Krakow an emblem thereof'.

There would naturally be allowed a margin of error but not serious enough to allow for a recovery of initial investments made. How many funds end up in films that fail, that remains to be seen. Heard of are factually only those which became a surprise at a film festival like CANNES with a certain film becoming the big winner. Still, the entire film industry in Hollywood is a complex undertaking and requires many more financial and managerial skills then what the European film can capture due to ingrained constraints. The latter has to do how media based public relations and idols or stars are linked to the imaginary world of each nation dreaming of its own greatness or as the French love to speak about their culture being something 'exceptional'. But what was depicted in a film like 'The Player' is of greater significance for the Hollywood director manages to be always a step ahead of the police and because he has more resources (technological but also managerial and PR relation skills) at his disposal, he manages to hide the fact that he did murder that writer and thus gets away with murder.

If that is taken into consideration, it means as well the 'subversive character of the arts' as described by Carol Becker has always an edge over any official policy effort, and that is why the EU policy lags behind both technical and cultural developments. For it is impossible to structure the cultural sector if not directly involved in pertinent questions as they come up and need to be faced especially when a new artist appears suddenly on the doorstep and asks his works to be shown by that gallery. The risk to show something new is on both sides and it becomes a collaborative learning process the moment an opportunity is offered and which can turn out to be a break-through for both the artist and the gallery owner. For then energy begins to affect the 'imaginary power' which encompasses as a whole the cultural sector.

The 'cutting edge' for success is to be a step ahead as technology advances. This demands keeping up with how the arts evolve over time. Consistency is as important as is the bringing out of further development. That makes possible new forms of expressions which have to be tried out, artistically speaking, well before they can be exploited commercially by a new type of digital film. And the very opposite can also be true with a novel film bringing about new ways to perceive the environment. Yet usually the written text precedes most art and finally commercial products e.g. films based on novels are more common than the other way around.

Studies about the value of culture to the economy

Pioneer work has been done in this direction by the team of Kultur Dokumentation and Veronika Ratzenböck in Vienna. Their early studies surprised everyone by showing what value culture has for the economy in Austria, and this at local and regional level. Still the team of Kulkturdokumentation under the direction of Veronika Ratzenböck experienced what a hard sell it is when tying to convince local and regional authorities of the need for an alternative cultural policy. For these authorities have still not recognized the full value of culture to the economy.

A major shift in policy at EU level came about thanks to the KEA study which was published by the European Commission in 2007. It helped to show what value culture does have for the economy by establishing (officially recognized) following facts:

- The sector turned over more than 654 billions Euros in 2003.
- The sector contributed to 2,6% of EU GDP in 2003.
- The overall growth of the sector's value added was 19,7% in 1999-2003.
- In 2004, at least 5,8 million people worked in the sector, equivalent to 3,1% of total employed population in Europe.

Source: http://ec.europa.eu/culture/key-documents/doc873_en.htm

The study gave an outline of the creative sector of the economy and mapped out a future strategy for a Creative Europe.

General findings by 2010

Priority Sector Report: Creative and Cultural Industries
Dominic Power, Uppsala University
Tobias Nielsén, Volante QNB Research
March 2010 – deliverable D9-1


Note: The data used in this report covers employees but not sole traders (i.e. firms with no employees but one active owner) or freelancers.

Precisely most difficult is to gauge the number of self employed single persons or entrepreneurs like writers, translators, website designers etc. who do not appear in general statistical reports since not employed somewhere and hence more artists than employed by someone to produce or to bring about something.

Furthermore by 2010 countries like Estonia, Lithuania etc. are all in economic difficulties but this does not apply only to Eastern European countries. It concerns as well Greece, Italy, Spain and does not exclude the UK where the current government is said to making more cuts than was the case under Margaret Thatcher's government.

Open Method of Coordination: Expertise knowledge

Leading experts advise the Commission and Council of Ministers through the Open Method of Coordination which includes a working group on Cultural and Creative Industries. In turn this ensures that expertise knowledge becomes a part of the basis for advise to the Council of Ministers. Subsequently these viewpoints can influence to a large extent what policies are finally adopted at EU level.

As of late there has started a discussion as to the kind of expertise knowledge which has gained in recognition at EU level shapes. It relates to the debate about the role of culture in Europe as well as what has become of politics in light of such figures as Havel. An interesting conference about 'love and truth' as well as about other topological concepts was organized in memory of this opposition figure turned President of a Czech Republic once it was freed from the rule of Communism in 1989. Such legacy ensures that some of the Eastern European contributions entail another intellectual dimension and interests as observed most regularly by Peter Inkei at the Budapest Observatory.

Since there exists as well the Platform for Cultural and Creative Industries at European level, an interwoveness of EU experts on this subject matter has been created over time. The Platform has been set up together with two others with the aim to structure the dialogue between the European Commission and Civil Society.

The Green Paper of the European Commission: "Unlocking the potential of Cultural and Creative Industries" (2010)

According to the European Commission the direction things should take with regards to Cultural and Creative Industries was expressed fore mostly in the Green Paper (2010): "Unlocking the potential of Cultural and Creative Industries". Right at the outset three factors of change were stipulated and which necessitate a change of policy:

  1. Changes are happening at a faster pace due to new technologies and increased globalization with development being marked by a shift away from traditional manufacturing towards services and innovation.
  2. "Factory floors are progressively being replaced by creative communities whose raw material is their ability to imagine, create and innovate."
  3. With less material, much more immaterial values being on the increase, consumer behaviour is interpreted as looking and search for "new and enriching 'experiences'", so that competitiveness needs to be redefined as an ability to network and to bring about 'social experiences'.

The European Commission seeks to make Europe become more competitive in this 'global environment' best done by heeding conditions for creativity and innovation. Borrowing from the Maastricht Treaty article on culture, things shall "flourish" if the right conditions for creativity and innovation exist. Consequently that needs to be created by a new entrepreneurial culture.

"If Europe wants to remain competitive in this changing global environment, it needs to
put in place the right conditions for creativity and innovation to flourish in a new
entrepreneurial culture1.
There is a lot of untapped potential in the cultural and creative industries to create growth and jobs. To do so, Europe must identify and invest in new sources of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth drivers to take up the baton. Much of our future prosperity will depend on how we use our resources, knowledge and creative talent to spur innovation.
Building on our rich and diverse cultures, Europe must pioneer new ways of creating
value-added, but also of living together, sharing resources and enjoying diversity.
Europe's cultural and creative industries offer a real potential to respond to these
challenges thereby contributing to the Europe 2020 strategy and some of its flagship
initiatives such as the Innovation Union, the Digital Agenda, tackling climate change, the Agenda for new skills and new jobs or an industrial policy for the globalisation era."
- Green Paper, EU Commission 2010

That means an input-output model under the leadership of an entrepreneurial class is being advocated as if this is compatible with both social and cultural innovation.  Moreover, this seeming novel approach begs for lessons of categories (Aristotles) with regards to how experiences are made possible. Without an ethical vision, it would be impossible to link matter ('physis') with a special lawfulness ('nomos') in need to be followed if certain goals are to be fulfilled. That can be attained by letting the imagination show the way and mediate between acting subjects and reality. Since the world is made up of both nature and people, a unifying orientation is best expressed by the Greek term 'cosmos' (meaning both people and universe).

Without specifying the lessons of categories when it comes to making 'experiences', such a position will fall short of its demand to link creativity with innovation. For consumers will experience a final product released onto the market or seize upon a new service, but shall not enter that field of experience linked to an open ended search process as part of an ongoing innovation.

EU Strategy to unlock the full potential of the cultural and creative sectors (2012)

New European Commission's Strategy to Boost Growth and Jobs in the Cultural and Creative Sectors

The European Commission has recently presented a strategy to unlock the full potential of the cultural and creative sectors in the EU to boost jobs and growth. These sectors already account for up to 4.5% of GDP and up to 8.5 million jobs in the European Union. The Commission's new strategy aims to increase the competitiveness and export potential of these sectors, as well as to maximise their spill-over benefits for other areas such as innovation, the information and communication technologies (ICT) and urban regeneration.

For further information:



Review of this strategy becomes a necessity since it risks not merely to sideline such aims as upholding cultural diversity in Europe but also encounters 'inefficiencies' of various kinds due to the administrative process being over complicated. Not only has the EU expanded in the meantime to include 27 member states, but by linking culture and cultural policy much more to the goals of economic growth, competitiveness and creation of jobs, there is a loss of oversight in what works, what does not. Corrections thereof are also more often promises than real achievements when seeing what is stated as intention and what can be realized thereof within the next funding period.

A better regulatory environment

In the document made available by the European Commission, it is explicitly stated that "the strategy, outlined in a document entitled 'Promoting cultural and creative sectors for growth and jobs in the EU', envisages a series of policy initiatives and the promotion of a modern regulatory environment."

Now what policy initiatives are being planned, that needs to be found out, while the promotion of a 'modern regulatory environment' seems to be more a heuristic idea - the term 'environment' can be replaced with 'atmosphere' or value consensus. To appraise regulations and the frameworks within which they are made to be operative, there is needed a discussion what is applicable in culture since this policy field differs greatly from the economy and how markets function.

For instance, culture is linked to how artists stay creative and become innovative. As this is done best by setting constraints but hardly anything thereof reflected in the policy measures taken by the EU, it is not clear whether or not there is any learning process going on in terms of a meaningful cultural development.

Setting constraints is not a regulation in the traditional sense of policy. Rather it is setting something like a positive limitation as to what can be done to bring out further artistic articulations e.g. everything can be expressed provided it is done with wood, so that wood becomes the constraint and sole means of expression.

The same applies to social communication which becomes a creative act once everyone is made conscious of some common constraint. They are called mistakingly 'norms', and have become with the EU specific culture of political administration EU norms, but this kind of conformity is deadly for it leaves out critical voices and does not include ethical considerations.

Consequently treating culture as if an economic and more specifically an industrial sector invites for only such policy measures as if things can be treated like the 'steel and coal' sector. If that would be the case, then the EU would make huge mistakes and miss out completely the role of culture. The latter is best known when the arts become subversive to give people the freedom to express themselves. And without such space for free artistic expressions, there would no longer be any intellectual challenge. Consequently debates at European level suffer more and more under a normed artificiality as if only insiders know what is going on and despite this leaving everyone out of the picture as to why things are going wrong.

Stronger partnership

For the implementation process the ambigous term 'partnership' is evoked as stated in the paper by the Commission:

"The Commission also wants to encourage stronger partnerships between different policies, in particular culture, education, industry, economic affairs, tourism, urban and regional development, and territorial planning."

If partners across the board and from different fields are to be brought together, then there is at risk that the diversity and different qualities of assets do not come into play. And before partnership there are many more steps required so that exclusive practices become truly inclusive and this means in the process knowledge is gained on how to include not only the others, but how to incorporate ideas in a further going process taking on the quality of challenging first of all conventional wisdoms. Otherwise the process can never attain the level of sophistication needed to reach the next level of coordination and qualitative development.

The hope for positive spillovers of the CCIs: towards a 'creative economy' and 'experience economy'

In the Green paper published by the European Commission in 2010, there is made an outline as to what positive impacts can be expected if Cultural and Creative Industries are promoted in an exceptional way. (Brussels, COM(2010) 183)

It cites recent studies pointing out the fact that CCIs further innovation systems at both regional and national level.

  1. "These industries provide content to fuel digital devices and networks and so contribute to the acceptance and further development of ICTs, for instance to broadband rollout. As intensive users of technology, their demands also often spur adaptations and new developments of technology, providing innovation impulses to technology producers."
  2. "Through their specific role at the core of the digital shift and the new trend towards the "experience economy" as well as through their ability to shape or amplify social and cultural trends, and – therefore – consumer demand, CCIs play an important role in contributing to an innovation-friendly climate in Europe."
  3. "It appears that firms that make proportionately greater use of services from the CCIs perform significantly better on innovation. Although the specific mechanisms by which this occurs are not yet well documented, it seems that creative innovation services provided by CCIs are inputs to innovative activities by other enterprises and organisations in the broader economy, thereby helping to address behavioural failures, such as risk aversion, status quo bias and myopia. Design is a good example of a creative process potentially leading to user-centred innovation."
  4. "Furthermore, reports also show that creative workers are more integrated in the wider
    economy than was previously thought: there are more creative specialists that have been
    trained in arts schools working outside the CCIs than within, acting as "conduits for
    knowledge, innovation and new ideas" initiated in the CCIs."

On a more general note, first-class cultural amenities and high-tech services, good living and recreational conditions, the vibrancy of cultural communities and the strength of local CCIs are increasingly seen by cities and regions as soft location factors that can help them boost their economic competitiveness by establishing a positive environmentfor innovation and attracting highly-skilled people as well as companies. At the same time, the cultural sector and CCIs can make a fundamental contribution to responding to major challenges such as the fight against global warming and transition to a green economy and a new sustainable model of development. Art and culture have a unique capacity to create green jobs, to raise awareness, challenge social habits and promote behavioural shifts in our societies, including our general attitude to nature. They can also open new avenues to tackle the international dimension of such issues.

To respond to these challenges, various levels of governance must design the right environments for creativity strategies to be developed. At the same time, reflections should be pursued with respect to evaluating a creative environment to complement more traditional innovation indicators.

The key question here is how to accelerate the positive spill-over effects that culture and CCIs can produce on the wider economy and society. A closer look at what is being proposed will reveal that a well adapted person to this new environment will be the one willing to become creative and therefore innovative under these given circumstances. Basically it means the Cultural and Creative Industries are used to break down any resistance coming from the arts and Culture against Consumerism. The fact that Andy Warhol can be celebrated as successful artist even it he sought to imitate advertising with his series of Marilyn Monroe shows the reverse angle of a cultural filter no longer working to safeguard people's identities from over commercialization. This becomes ever more clear when the EU Commission spells out the following three prerequisites:

Media literacy gained by a new type of education is also named as being a very important way "to promote citizens' creativity and participation in the cultural life of society." Although the EU falls altogether way short of letting citizens participate in decision making, the European Commission promotes itself as advocate of this aim within the emerging new economy based on seeking to exploit culture further through the Cultural and Creative Industries.

When it is stated that "the media are a very important means of distribution of cultural content and a vector for European cultural identities, and the ability of European citizens to make informed and diversified choices in their role as consumers of media content should be encouraged", then consumer choice is being advanced, not political choices about alternative economic policies. Moreover, if the media is given this role despite Jürgen Habermas making the diagnosis that all suffer under a 'pathology of communication', then something is wrong with this kind of entrustment. Moreover if this instrument is to deliver content when in reality 'content' is used to upgrade advertisement, and thereby robs culture of an autonomous voice, then the supposed cultural adaptation process shall not work. For that to be successful, people must retain an identity independent from their role as consumers to keep the economy going without asking any questions as to where all the wealth goes. Since Walter Benjamin tried to describe someone resisting this trend by becoming a 'Flaneur' - one just walking up and down the passages designed to heighten consumption - no real new work has emerged to show how concrete figures struggle with these contradictions.

To repeat, the new strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training ("ET 2020") adopted by the Council in May 2009 wants to enhance creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship, and this at all levels of education and training. It foresees good practices to be identified by "national experts" who work on synergies between culture and education. This emphasis upon national experts is again a concession the European Commission makes to member states and their defined national interests. Also it is assumed this does justice to the cultural reality of the economies in Europe. How this shall help to fulfil the European dimension is not clear. Nor will it counter act the trend towards a re-nationalisation of all European funding programmes, a trend that set in since 1999.

On a macro economic level, it is said that the links between CCIs and other industries should be strengthened for the benefit of the economy at large. That means the EU economy as concrete reference is intended while the sharing of resources as in the case of the Airbus production line would underline such cross national cooperation. In this respect, the paper states that is of interest "to better understand how to foster the use of creativity in other industries, the type of creativity which enterprises are looking for as well as the right mechanisms to facilitate such interactions." And again this should be done by fostering partnerships. Ideally for the creation of the Cultural and Creative Industrial sector "effective links (should) be made between the CCIs and fields such as education, industry, research or administration." What is intended, that is best circumscribes as striving for the creation of "real creative partnerships". For this purpose there should be built "effective mechanisms for transferring creative knowledge such as design into other sectors should be implemented."

An added novealty are "innovation voucher schemes such as the 'Creative Credit' that helps business to develop their ideas by teaming up with CCIs". The EU Commission promises itself a lot in this respect. Therefore, the task is very clear, namely "to install and to refine 'innovation support mechanisms' which are beneficial for CCIs." However, revealing in all of this is that the classical orientation remains. For typical of mere 'quantitative' assessment schemes is that everyone should "innovate better and more", in order to bring about "more innovative solutions." More and more of the same means getting caught up in a language which no longer holds up to any qualitative, never mind critical assessment.

The absurd use of language meant to heighten the urgency of acting now is revealed when it becomes a matter of 'unleashing' the creative powers of Europe. Literally, it says that "all this should be beneficial for all other sectors or industries, and help Europe’s overall economy to unleash its full innovation potential." What this 'unleashing' really means aside from its highly dramatic connotation, that remains a puzzle. Since language in terms of reality lived by people becomes even more important when one important qualitative factor is mentioned as prerequisite if innovation is to take place on a broader scale, and that is 'public trust', then the industrial sector cannot do without cultural mediation between what people want and what resources the CCIs claim. As demonstrated by the Stuttgart '21 controversy linked to the German railway wishing to refurbish the train station while many think this is a waste of money better to be spend on schools and education of children and youth, then public trust is also linked to the setting of priorities when it comes to justifying expenditures. The use of public funds to keep the economy going artificially has long been a problem. Hence trust along with better understanding of objectives and expectations would require not only "fine-tuning working methods" to establish real costs and needs, but an open debate about the agenda to be set. And this would have to mean culture has to be on the agenda and not the budget for culture simply cut while that for defense and other categories being increased.

Can the Creative Europe Program and the EU Structural Fund boast CCIs (2014 - 2020)

"It also plans to mobilise EU funding to increase support for the sectors, notably through the proposed €1.8 billion 'Creative Europe' programme for 2014-2020 and through Cohesion Policy funds."

The Commission also wants to encourage stronger partnerships between different policies, in particular culture, education, industry, economic affairs, tourism, urban and regional development, and territorial planning. This point of sharing policies was mentioned at the Conference in Paris Nov. 21 - 24, 2012 as being exceptional, not at all comparable as to what was happening usually at national, regional and local level.

The question is whether or not the combination of the Creative Europe programme and Structural Fund can give a further boast to the cultural and creative industries in Europe? If this means ever more design and fashion move into the sphere of culture, thereby using up funds otherwise made available to artists, it is not all too clear whether or not this spreading out means in reality a curtailment of the direct support given to the arts. And if the latter is the prime source of innovation, that shortcoming shall affect in the long run negatively the outcome expected and hoped for by directing funding towards the CCIs.

All of this reminds a bit of the state of affairs prevailing back in 1988 when for the first time local football teams demanded to be included as well in the funding made available by the cultural budget. Since then the term 'culture' has been altered quite a lot till the inclusion of the Cultural and Creative Industries has but ostracized the arts and the understanding of a culture free from Consumerism and Public Relations exercises which go with this alternative form of advertisement.

The fact that ECoCs have increased their public relation budgets up to 20% means to be considered a success, presence must be shown by events which attract masses of people and hence is noticed by the media as being a significant event. Anything below that radar screen is deemed not viable enough to be noticed as warrant further attention and in future any funding. It is the 'success'-criterion which drives things towards a new use of creativity even though it would mean in the end adaption to even anti democratic conditions.

The instrumentalization of culture for economic purposes

Altogether this policy shift towards Cultural and Creative Industries in Europe reflects a certain tendency at European level to handle the question of culture almost exclusively in economic terms. Consequently it has pushed ever more cultural policy into an economic direction as best seen by the third strand of the 'Creative Europe' funding programme favoring CCIs.

The tendency to replace culture per say or rather to 'instrumentalize' culture as if a kind of medium which can automatically help improve innovative capacities entails opportunities but also weaknesses, if not threats. As if the innovative approach taken for the Article 10 ERDF program has been forgotten, namely to look into how culture can create jobs while at the same time to see how over commercialization as threat to identity can be averted, not surprisingly the EU strategy paper for 2020 speaks about mainstreaming of culture. In practical terms, the EU will fund in future what amounts to a promotion of a 'risk culture' i.e. one conducive for doing business by tapping into the creative and innovative capacities of all people and units. It means a readiness to embrace fully an 'entrepreneurial culture'.

Social innovation - or how to include the excluded (unemployed, drop outs, social failures)

At the level of the unemployed the idea behind such a policy wish is that the individual takes the initiative and becomes self-employed, thereby reducing the alarming high rate of unemployment throughout Europe in a period of recession tingering even towards a dangerous level of depression. That reminds of the Great Depression but also what state of affairs prevail once people can no longer uplift themselves. That is the case if they see no longer any chances for themselves.

But to say the creative or cultural industries have come into their own, that would be only the case if politicians were not in a frantic search for solutions while just offering such measures which can count on image making processes. Therefore, these are not true solutions but only once which can be played out, so to speak, as a manipulative game engulfing everyone when out in the streets or else sitting at home in front of the TV screen. It is as if the entire world has to be watching while the game is going on, so that what is being transmitted on the screen can be counted as a success.

A cartoon says it all when parents ask themselves while sitting in front of the television set with everyone around them what will become of the youth if everything fails, and a little guy lurks around the corner of the television set to say: 'reality show'! Exactly this is the question about the immediate becoming mediation of reality while the virtual replaces in reality what is going with their own child. Parents become often fear mongers when giving that what is conveyed as general news the benefit of doubt while doubt in their child works the other way. It becomes a force of negation if the child does not succeed 'in society'.

In other words, it is not merely a matter to tap into resources i.e. knowledge, but also to know for what purpose all these creative powers are used for. If only manipulative images count, then the political attitudes behind the Creative Europe program wishing to harness the potential of the Creative and Cultural Industries do not take one thing into account. Creativity reflects itself a human spirit based on an ethical commitment to life. Even if some claim that creativity is even possible under dictatorship (Lutz Engelke), there is the thesis by George Steiner in 'Language and silence' about what political orientation has brought about creativity i.e. great art works, compared to one which did not. Therefore it should worry everyone if this approach to culture and creativity leaves aside the ethical question.

Nothing substantial can be brought about without honesty. The degree to which manipulative strategies are  already in play even before the Creative Europe program has been finally approved and will be implemented, that says something about the process of deliberation at European level. It is hamstrung by not heeding critical voices and in its over adaptation to the interests of member states as if they are legitimized to identify and to decide the cultural priorities for Europe. This does not mean the voice of a Minister of Culture from Ireland or Greece should be listened to, for what it is meant with this remark is the way this process functions in practice. For the Minister is hardly present, and instead most of the deliberations are made by so-called political administrators. Very rarely their assuming power is criticized or becomes a focus of political debate, but the problem rests with those who know how to strike deals behind everyone's backs and still give it through the official decision making process the mantle of legitimacy.

When Bob Palmer spoke about the evolvement of European Capitals of Culture in Brussels, March 2010, he mentioned how this concept becoming more and more like cultural industries. It was for the first time a major point on the official programme when Ruhr 2010 was besides Istanbul and Pecs European Capital of Culture. He implied most of their budgets go into communication, including advertisement and media presentation, so that not enough substantial investment in culture is made. A good indicator for that is that the artistic director is usually only then hired once the city has made a successful bid. Till then, everything is in the hands of a management, and this despite the city in need to fulfil the criterion that the citizens of that city stand behind the bid. And if not a manager is in place right away, then the NGO or group of people who made things possible through their personal engagement are wiped off the stage once the bid has been successful. This was the case in both Pecs and Istanbul. Likewise in Marseilles 2013 there is fear being expressed that by the time the designated year comes around that hardly anything of the original concept is left. That danger is enhanced once money takes literally over and transforms the concept already lacking in artistic substance into something serving solely economic interests like bringing a lot of tourists into the city. Culture is then reduced to a series of events and festivals, but all the long term investments needed to let culture develop over time are neglected.

A different visibility is meant when culture is to be present in the way people speak and communicate with each other. They lurch forward suddenly when they leave for just one second behind their daily composure and become someone of their imagination: wild, funny, contemplative and straight forward. The irony is only that very often they let themselves become loose in another compound of the imagination which was already pre-meditated insofar as there are classical and typical patterns when it comes to look sexy, sportive, courageous, adaptive etc. And since not a definite work pattern predetermines these images, the question becomes but what can the cultural industries produce and reproduce (in the sense of Walter Benjamin) without appearing to be imposing a seeming order? The trick of the equation could be called the free determination of who I want to be when in the streets, at work, at home and in some other public place, may that be an airport or a simple square.

Public spaces still count to manifest the possibility of trusting other people and to be open to their arrivals and departures as at the stazione of Milano about which Herbert Distel made a composition comprising of incoming and departing trains all while a string quartett would play beside the tracks. Now that is a free line of culture and not of the cultural industries even though in philosophy is well known how much can be subsumed under such concept.

Thus the organisational skills demanded, they differ from what policy makers seek to ascertain when they wish to tap into a growing sector and notice often too late how many times their policy tools fail as the content steered process follows its own logic and records earnings as reward for hard fought for decisions to make the next step possible. But this all leads to a question of how things work in reality and not what policy makers think it should look like in order to confirm their wishes for not an organised crime, but still for some kind of smooth transition from something in disorder to becoming a productive even still chaotic mess. Interestingly enough no one wishes to question the anarchronistic approach being taken insofar as cultural industries are made into the thing just as the old industries are disappearing. As Konrad von Finckenstein would say unfortunately no one even admits that the law is inadequate to a field like the Internet and Digital TV which cannot be regulated as if still the coal and steel industry. But this mistake is being reproduced through the apparent need to seek proof not in quality but solely in the quantitative measure of success: so many people have watched the movie. It does say something but as in the case of the European Capitals of Culture even a high number of visitors does still not say anything what experiences they take with them once they have been at one or many events taking place during that one year in a city once it has been designated to become European Capital of Culture.

An appraisal - the critical path ahead

Since the structural fund shall be used to promote Cultural and Creative Industries, it is important to follow the discussion while plans for the new funding period 2014-2020 are being finalized. There is as well this link to the new Cultural Programme initiated by the Commission for Education and Culture under the title 'Creative Europe'. As if an all out wish to capitalize on culture, the EU official policy seems to be driven by a determination to get the economy re-started and that has to mean greater efficiency and competitiveness as far as the use of Jargons is concerned. It is not clear entirely whether or not this boils down to mere rhetorics within the neutralized Euro language or if really substantial improvements in the implementation process can be expected. At the end of 2012, the European Commission appears less convincing than ever before. A general crisis especially in the case of Greece has been avoided, the agreements reached leave many more voices unheard. Also there are cases where critical voices have been silenced by a deliberate process of exclusion. As the saying goes, culture has been ostracized. It does not take much of an imagination then to anticipate that the years ahead shall be difficult indeed.

The Europe Union seems much more a broken unity with hardly any social and economic cohesion left to indicate equality within societies and between regions does prevail. Rather the growing gap between the poor and the wealthy is made evident by resurgent forms of extreme forms of politics. Rage and indignation are huge problems besetting many people in Greece, Spain and elsehwhere, while extreme Nationalism and Xenophobic forces seem to be on the rise. They suggest a popular want for some kind of dictatorship to rule over highly fragmented, indeed desparate situations as they have come into existence in not only Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, but also in France, Germany, Sweden, Norway and the United Kingdom. Consequently there is a lashing out of violence at times and often it comes at an unexpected time and place.

What this has to do with the Cultural and Creative Industry should be clear to any policy maker who advocates this policy direction. It should be remembered that violence is a sign that attempts to ensure a peaceful living and working together has gone badly wrong. Along the line some major mistakes were made. And even if some of the negative consequences were fore seen, not really explainable is, for instance, the increase in suicides in Greece, Spain, but also in Italy. And it seems to hit the young and talented people before anyone else. They seem unable to cope in robust world in which hard games are being played out all the time.

Creativity is no longer a given in a period of crisis. While it is true that artists live and work out of 'uncertainty', it is a special condition to be unsure of yourself and still be creative. Thus if the new EU policy wishes to tap into this resource, care has to be taken to know what it means when reference is made to creativity, innovation, imagination as the new resources to be exploited in environments conduicive to nurturing precisely these qualities.

In the industrial society creativity worked as long as the premise was upheld work in need to be done has not to be an exclusive new knowledge orientated process. That was the case when there was still economic growth and consumer practices relied on developing ever newer products and designs. Once things switched over to the Knowledge or Information Society as envisioned by the Lisbon agenda, goods and services were designed which people did not know they needed until they tried them out. They entered a virtual world but also a much more refined consumer orientation e.g. when no simple wine made by the cooperative would do but the best possible wine from New Zealand or France. By gaining in knowledge of different wines, the demand for wines was altered.

The crisis came when that surplus value of a virtual market broke literally down. Interestingly enough nowadays when there is talk about getting out of the crisis, then attention is given to a banking system which seemed to have lost public trust. To regain it, emphasis is being put on the so-called 'real economy', that is corporations no longer hold onto their money but really invest in productions and jobs, so that people can earn money to be spend by consuming once again e.g. buying houses.

Whether or not the policy emphasis on Creative and Cultural Industries as given by EU policy makers shall allow such a shift in focus upon the 'real economy', that remains to be seen. Moreover the EU policy is directed more towards an 'economy of experience' than towards a real need to economize on all resources, human and natural. As long as the economy is driven along this path of articifial consumption just to keep the economy functioning, nothing shall be done to alleviate the structural deficiencies between the Banking and the other economic sectors, the Cultural and Creative Industries included. Due to an economic governance based almost exclusively on monetary principles and wishes to safeguard the stability of the currency, no real economic reform is being strived for. That means only really are premises set which indicate to the industry what shall be future constraints e.g. can the automobile sector continue to producing more cars every year or not? The emphasis upon 'economy of experience' is as well highly misleading and suggests the EU policy makers wish to linger more in the virtual than in the real world. As if the crisis has not altered as of yet basic assumptions, policy is being developed on the premise everything shall continue as before and only subtle refinements are needed to alter the dispositions, in order to ensure the virtual becomes a real success.

And if that is not a worrying sign, then the adjustments needed to safeguard both cultural diversity and biodiversity while guiding development not just towards economic growth, but to a cultural development which can make such a shift in focus possible, are a long way off from what is needed. Rather than becoming innovative and forward looking, much of the population appears to be on the downside with people ever more uncertain about their futures.

Given that these old models of success are still being advanced at both European and global level, it means the regulators along with the main share holders of interest have lost any link to real work in need to be done if sustainable development is to be brought about. For too long the measures for this have been to vague and opaque so as to cast doubt even on the scientific explanations of climate change. Problems are resolved more by casting them into doubt than doing something about them in a substantial way. European socities seem set to continue as they have before because they lack precisely the answer to such a crisis in their economic thinking and model. For too long things went apparently well even though there were sufficient warning signals to be seen. By now, things are becoming more than just desparate if in Greece there are more than 27% of the people unemployed and among the youth this percentage is even higher (above 50% and nearly 57%). It means whatever austerity measures are taken, they are not necessarily linking society to an economy which allow for a growth based on real work and human experiences.

The EU economy is no longer such a convincing model of success. While measures taken fall short to uphold social and economic cohesion, the way bail-outs have been handled favour largely hedge fonds by allowing them to take more than their due profits while the tax payer has to pay. The model was far more convincing as long as the EU strived for economic and social cohesion, but which ended in 1999 with the bombing of Kosovo. Since then expansion was almost the sole driving force while no attention was being paid to the mounting crisis which erupted fully in 2009 when Greece, then Spain and Portugal, but also Italy and last France got into trouble due to their state deficits. Along that road many mistakes were made precisely because most funding programmes overdone it in terms of administrative structures set up to implement the EU Structural Fund and Agricultural Fund, the two largest categories in the EU budget. They tend to bring about artificial spheres of activities although meant to be forward looking interventions like investments and not just straight state subsidies. In the long run all these measures prove to be just another form of distributing and consuming more resources and money without necessarily gaining in efficiency and just distribution. Once these two are no longer compatible, then social and economic cohesion is even less achievable.

There has to be said something as well about the role of creative and cultural industries in global business. It concerns fashion and design with often the concepts being made in Europe or in the USA, while the actual production is made in Third World countries. The fires in the clothing factories in Bengladesh, China or Indochina speak their own language. Insofar as these production sites involve global companies and distributors like Wal-Mart selling the clothes made under such conditions at quite another price in London, Paris or New York, there is social justice gap in all of this.

Naturally design can include as well recycling materials and celebrate as Marseilles 2013 plans to do cultural diversity by bringing together designers with different cultural backgrounds.  But this trend to take on board already commercially orientated projects as doing clothes out of recycled materials with unemployed youth to show case 'social enterprise', does not answer the main criticism of global companies exploiting those willing to work at low wages under all kinds of conditions. Since glamour has often been used to hide the real poverty, a society being forced by the global media to focus only on show cases of success is a simple way of preventing true stories from being told.

This is to say these simple messages of success do not add up to ensure a healthy economy does include everyone. Consequently the real situation of the creative and cultural industries has to be perceived in a much more differentiated, equally critical light than what measures of success (contribution of the sector to the GNP) can reveal or narrate, and studies / advises of the experts amount to in the end. Culture is after all a self critical understanding of the role played when it comes to making things possible.

Hatto Fischer

First draft: 11.4.2011

Second draft: 26.12.2012



EUROPEAN COMMISSION Brussels, COM(2010) 183 GREEN PAPER: "Unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries"

Fesel, Bernd (2007), "Ruhr 2010 - Creative Industries: Project related to the Process". Paper presented at the ECCM Symposium, 'Productivity of Culture', Athens.


Fesel, Bernd in Journal about Creative Industries: http://www.european-creative-industries.eu/

KEA European Affairs has published a series of articles and contributions on issues affecting the cultural and creative industries. There is as well available the KEA blog: www.keablog.com


KEA European Affairs: www.keanet.eu

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