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Creative Clusters 2006, Newcastle: Themes

Note: links were valid in November 2006, but target sites may have changed since then.

Creative Clusters 2006
The Sage, Gateshead, UK
Sunday 5th – Wednesday 8th November 2006

As the creative industries collectively become major employers, exporters and sources of wealth, are they ready to take on the responsibilities of holding up the economy? It’s one thing for the creative industries to demand serious attention as economic players, and quite another for them actually to take on the role in society of the manufacturing, engineering and extraction industries it is claimed they are replacing.

Or is what we are witnessing a different approach to yesterday’s economy? When Bob Lutz, Head of Product Development at GM says ‘we are in the arts and entertainment business‘, and the UK Arts Council’s Chief Executive demands ‘arts in the core script‘ of policy – education, foreign policy, health and the economy – who is invading whose territory?

‘Creativity’ is increasingly being seen as the strategy that all businesses must adopt to take on the challenges of globalisation. In the West this tends to mean deploying IP-related skills to take on low-cost competition from China and India. In China, India and other developing countries, cheap oakley sunglasses entrepreneurs see no reason why they should not use their creativity too, alongside lower costs and a wealth of cultural assets, to redress historic imbalances of power with the West. Disempowered minorities in the West see similar opportunities within their local cultures. But are globalisation and the opportunities of creativity really the zero-sum games that these positions imply?

And if creativity is a driving force in economic development, are the values hitherto championed by culture, or by commerce, driving change? Or is there another future, a third way, in which people, places and profit reach a new accommodation?

What does the global economy really look like when creativity is mainstreamed?

The World’s Creative Hub

Is there a city in the world that is not building its economy around creative industries?

The UK’s Creative Economy Programme aims to make Britain the “world’s creative hub”, New York’s mayor has announced new support for cultural enterprises, and Beijing’s 11th Five Year Plan has far-reaching policies for cultural and creative industries. Sheffield (Creative Clusters’ home city) has re-orientated its entire regeneration effort around the idea of creativity. And in Jamaica, “Sugar days are done, banana days are done but in this globalised world, our culture is what sells us and we have to begin to look at it as a business.”

What does it take to make a world creative hub?

Transforming UK Small Business By Design

The Cox Review of Creativity in Business, commissioned by UK Chancellor Gordon Brown, a parallel study on design by the DTI, and Yorkshire and Humberside’s Design Works project have shown how design can transform small businesses.

In 2007 the Design Council launches Dott – Designs of the Time, a 10 year programme to support and cheap oakleys encourage design as central to the future economic and social success of the UK, with Dott 07 in North East England.

In what other ways can the specialist knowledge and skills found within creative sector be mainstreamed through the economy?

Virtual Worlds, Real Culture

Over six million customers are signed up to World of Warcraft, and $900 million is being traded in virtual assets from games like Everquest and Lineage, sparking virtual trade wars between Chinese and American players. In Second Life, a booming virtual world with over 300,000 ‘residents’ and an ‘in-world’ economy worth over $US18m, you can make enough real money to live on in the real world – by designing virtual clothes, making virtual films and publishing virtual magazines.

It is becoming clear that online gaming in virtual worlds is far more than a new form of entertainment, it is also a new kind of cultural form, from which is emerging real creativity, real economic value, and real relationships. No wonder that Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft were slugging it out at E3 for dominance of the gaming space.

Is this another bubble or is it the future of entertainment? And education? And is it art?

A Golden Age, or an Era of Mass Extinctions?

While the UK, USA and China now account for 40% of world trade in cultural goods, nearly half the world’s 185 countries have never produced a film, and over half of the world’s languages are in danger of extinction. Meanwhile, many older forms of hand-made culture are dying. There is huge growth in the Indian film industry, but its hand-loom industry has been decimated by cheap imports.

Many international initiatives have emerged in response. 148 countries approved a UNESCO Convention establishing cultural diversity as a ‘common heritage of humanity’ and its defence as ‘an ethical imperative, inseparable from respect for human dignity’. The Special Unit for South-South Cooperation and UNCTAD’s International Centre for the Creative Industries in Brazil are exploring how the creative economy might help achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

How can we prevent the rapid growth of some cultural flows from completely extinguishing others?

Inclusion Through Media

For the first time we are presenting audio-visual productions that explore the relationship between media representation and social inclusion.

Multi-faceted images of a diverse world are all around us. Is it a form of social exclusion if particular realities are not portrayed in those images? Does it marginalise lives and make problems feel less real or important if they are not adequately represented? Can representation really empower people?

We will show and discuss digital media productions with something to say about access, creativity, empowerment and diversity.

In our media-dominated world, do people have the right to be seen on television?