Europe’s future prosperity and competitiveness will undoubtedly depend on its capacity to foster innovation and creativity.
The Lisbon Strategy has put innovation at the heart of EU policies. However, the focus has been firmly concentrated on technological innovation and support to research and development initiatives.
The belief was that growth and employment would be best achieved by investing in ICT industries – the flagship industries of the digital economy – and boosting innovation, in particular in the “knowledge economy”.
In this context, the non-technological aspects of innovation and more particularly the role of the cultural and creative sector have been largely ignored.
However, as illustrated in a study on the Economy of Culture in Europe carried out by KEA European Affairs for the European Commission (EC) in 2006, the cultural sector itself is a dynamic trigger of economic activity and job creation throughout the EU.
The number of people working for the cultural sector in 2004 was evaluated at 5.8 million, equivalent to 3.1% of total employed population in EU-25. Moreover, the cultural sector contributed around 2.6% to the EU GDP in 2003, with growth significantly higher than that of the economy in general between 1999 and 2003.
Against this background, and given the fact that the “EU 2020” Strategy will determine the EU’s policies and investment priorities for the next decade, this contribution aims at stressing the importance of the cultural and creative sectors in the implementation of the visions spelt out by the EC in its working paper.
The EU cannot ignore the value of the cultural and creative sector when shaping its global strategy for the ten years to come. By doing this, it would prevent Europe from evolving towards a more inclusive, sustainable and competitive society. We would therefore encourage the EC to take into consideration the following comments.
Assessment of the European Commission’s working document
As outlined by the EC in its working document, the EU will have to adopt policies to unleash Europe’s innovative and creative potential in order to deal with important environmental, economic and societal challenges.
As a strategic consultancy committed to supporting creative and knowledge-based organisations and recognised for its leading expertise on the creative industries and cultural, entertainment and media sectors, KEA European Affairs is convinced that Europe’s dynamism and competitiveness can be better revealed by investing in culture, and more specifically by supporting “culture-based creativity” initiatives.
Developed in a study prepared for the EC in June 2009, the concept of “culture-based creativity” is linked to the ability of creative people (i.e. artists, craftsmen, creators and more broadly creative professionals) to think imaginatively, to challenge the conventional, to call on aesthetic, emotions, and values. To emerge, culture-based creativity requires personal abilities (ability to be imaginative and to think “out of the box”), technical skills (often artistic skills and/or craftsmanship), as well as a conducive environment that encourages creativity, promotes investment in art and culture and fosters citizens’ cultural participation.
Although the cultural and creative sectors are increasingly considered as key sectors to unlock Europe’s potential, their contributions to economic and social innovation, as well as to a more competitive economy, research and better learning, are not covered in the Commission’s document.
At a time when enterprises and industries are calling on artists to renew their visions and business models, designers to rethink their processes and anthropologists to understand behaviours, EU institutions and Member States should not forget to call on creative and cultural resources to get Europe on a sustainable track.
A culture-based creativity policy is indeed the opportunity to associate the irrational, imagination, poetic, with the “rational”, scientific and materialist set up of today’s European societies. It is about inspiring our societies with alternative values and objectives to statistical as well as productive ends and short-term benefits.
Culture-based creativity: an important tool to reach “EU 2020” strategic objectives
As underlined by the EC in its working document, we have entered a period characterised by enormous economic, social and environmental challenges. The sections below will show that the development of a genuinely ambitious global strategy associating art, culture and creativity should contribute to address many of those challenges.
By underlining that art and culture can make a vital contribution to the achievement of policy objectives that reconcile the creation of wealth with sustainability and harmonious social development, the sections below will underline how culture-based creativity can be used to reach the three main priorities defined by the EC as key drivers of Europe’s 2020 strategy.