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Creative Clusters 2004, Brighton: Themes

A Sense of Place: Cultural Tourism

Most people involved in creative industry development know in their bones that a distinctive sense of place is a key regeneration ingredient, and that cultural tourism should grow alongside creative industry. But the story is not simple. Italy, for example, has been offering cultural tourism for centuries, and it seems to be stretching a point to couple this tightly with Italian creative industries.

And what is it about water? For cities such as Sydney, Seattle, Barcelona and Bristol, waterfront developments have been central to their creative regeneration. But most coastal towns in the UK are suffering badly. Is the seaside for them an unexploited asset, or does it just mean they are at the end of the road?

Brighton, on the other hand, our conference host for 2004, seems to have thrown off its image of seaside town seediness in a way that few other British resorts have done. In Brighton the new media sector has blossomed alongside a new tourism offer based on arts events and night-clubs. How have they pulled this off? Or is it just that they are an hour away from London?

What is the link between cultural tourism and creative industries? What about the link between hi-tech and high art?

Social Inclusion and the Rise of the Creative Class

Richard Florida argues that wealth is generated disproportionately by the ‘new creative class’. Arguing that the single most important factor in determining a place’s success is the creativity of its population, he encourages cities to focus on becoming places where creative people will want to live by building fitness centres, loft apartments, lifestyle festivals and exotic restaurants.

Community development people have long suspected that the creative industries agenda is all about jobs for yuppies, and the exclusion of traditional communities. Does Florida’s book prove their point? Can his perspective square with the arts community’s instinct for social inclusion and a desire for balanced community development?

Or is it the case that creativity knows no social barriers, and that all people are potentially creative. Do community media centres and cheap broadband access mean that anyone can join the creative class? Is it inevitable that communities whose culture is based on a manufacturing economy should wither away?

European Enlargement: Implications for Creative Business

In May 2004, the EC will undergo its most cheap oakley ambitious ever enlargement, with ten new member states joining the present fifteen. This will add 105m people to the EC population (a 28% increase) and increase EC land area by a third. Clearly there are huge implications of this in both cultural and economic terms.

The European Commission seeks to put culture at the heart of European policy. For them, culture is central to Europe’s role in the world. Cultural diversity is seen as one of the EC’s strategic economic assets, and the core of Europe’s competitive advantage is to be found in its creatively diverse potential. For many EC citizens, however, enlargement is perceived to be a threat to culture, and xenophobia has re-emerged in a way unseen for generations.

In the candidate countries, enlargement means that government and cultural actors are increasingly having to engage with the idea of ‘creative industries’. But this is a policy concept developed chiefly in the UK and in northern Europe, and it does not necessarily travel well.

The creative industries agenda seeks synergies between economic and cultural development. But in the former Warsaw Pact area it is not obvious that business, culture and government can usefully share much of a development agenda. In addition, older, underlying values in the new EC states might suggest that society should treat cultural and economic development as essentially distinct activities.

Cultural Value and Economic Value

Should we treat creative goods and services in the same way as all others, or should we allow for ‘cultural exceptions’?

…artistic and creative processes have a special relationship to the market, and often do not conform to conventional market mechanisms. Products of culture cannot be cheap oakley sunglasses treated as any other manufactured products. There is an urgent need to develop approaches and regulations that are relevant to certain types of cultural products that are created outside the commercial market place and that do not adhere to its processes. Such cultural goods may require special protections.

Towards a New Cultural Framework Programme of the European Union.

On the other hand,

…[The European Parliament calls on the Commission to devise] …a cultural policy which sets out the economic conditions for the development of the European cultural model, focusing particularly on employment, tourism and the new technologies…

European Parliament, draft Report on Cultural Industries

This is a global issue. The enforcement of intellectual property laws is at the heart of US trade disputes with China and Eastern Europe. To some, the fate of independent European film-making depends on the outcome of WTO talks.

Are cultural goods to be treated as fundamentally different from other goods? Does this conflict with our desire for open markets and cultures? Are employment, tourism and the new technologies really the heart of the European cultural model?

Asia-Pacific Creative Industries

Central though it is to Europe’s identity, the growth of creative industries is a global phenomenon, and Creative Clusters will look beyond the European horizon. There are major cultural industry initiatives all over the world, some of which make European interventions look like small-scale tinkering. A whole new take on the creative industries agenda is developing around the Pacific Rim, with major initiatives recently in Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Korea, Japan, India and China.

We invite colleagues around the world to share their perspectives and experience. What can we learn from each other?

Financing Creativity

The last few years have seen many innovative financial interventions to support creativity. In the public sector there have been some interesting new programmes seeking outcomes in the fields of science, art and entrepreneurship. Is this investment or subsidy or both?

The private sector has been just as active. After the crash, creative companies have had to be especially nimble to get investment.What is the art world to make of a development like London’s new Saatchi Gallery? Is this a welcome act of philanthropy or a canny, even cynical, investment? Does the gallery support the idea of public subsidy by doing things that government cannot afford, or is it an argument for the end of public funding?

Who should pay for creative experimentation, and why? What kind of creativity?