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Introduction to the Creative Industries

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A lecture given to the LSE summer school in 2009.

A lecture given to the LSE summer school in 2009.


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  • 1. Creative Industries and the Creative Economy: A Geographical Introduction
  • 2.  
  • 3. { Talk Outline }
    • History of the creative industries
    • What do they do now and how do they work?
      • Case study: Film Industry and the computer games industry
    • Where are they?
      • Case study: London
    • The future for the creative economy?
  • 4. { History of the ‘Creative Industries’ }
    • In UK, Labour came to power in 1997 and soon emphasised their ‘Cool Britannia’ policy drive
  • 5.  
  • 6. { History of the ‘Creative Industries’ }
    • In UK, Labour came to power in 1997 and soon emphasised their ‘Cool Britannia’ policy drive
    • Collectivised 13 ‘sub-sectors’:
      • Advertising, architecture, arts and antiques, crafts, music, film and video, computer and video games, software, publishing, design, fashion, performing arts
  • 7. { History of the ‘Creative Industries’ }
    • These are, however, by no means new (publishing, film, crafts…)
    • Adorno and Horkheimer (1947) attributed to the coining of the phrase ‘the culture industry’ – under modern capitalism, art and culture had become absorbed into the economy
  • 8. { History of the ‘Creative Industries’ }
    • The production of culture had become ‘economised’ and there were attempts at cultural policies to counter this (see O’Connor, 2007 for a historiography)
    • However, the ‘cultural industries’ became a term to refer to those sectors of the economy that were involved in the production of culturally-consumed goods
    • But there was a lack of a ‘voice’ for these industries, which impacts on the rights of workers, makes it difficult for firms to grow and curtails British comparative advantages
  • 9. { History of the ‘Creative Industries’ }
    • In May 1998, Lord Chris Smith wanted money from the treasury and a political agenda to recognise this and gain advantage from the IP, which at the time was not well regulated…
    • … hence the creative industries were born:
      • “ those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property .” (DCMS, 1998).
  • 10. { What do they do now and how do they work? }
    • The creative industries (and the definitions thereof) are the focus of intense debate in government, academia and in the private realm
    • How are they different from ‘other’ industries? (or within the CIs?)
      • Government support (more or less?)
      • Structure (flatter?)
      • People (multi-skilled)
      • Output (functionality versus fashion)
      • Spatiality (concentrated or dispersed?)
  • 11. { What do they do now and how do they work? }
    • The UK film industry is a good example of how intense government intervention has encouraged growth
    • UK Film Council set up in 2000 to promote the economic and cultural prominence of British cinema
    • Set up tax relief for production companies who shoot in Britain or produce ‘British films’ (similar tax schemes in Australia and Canada to lure ‘runaway production’
    • A cultural test exists in order to ‘score’ how British a film is
  • 12.  
  • 13. { What do they do now and how do they work? }
    • The computer game industry, in contrast, does not have such tax credits and the best UK talent is moving to Canada were the government DO have a tax credit scheme
  • 14. { What do they do now and how do they work? }
    • Structure-wise, the CIs are characterised by freelancers and project-based work (industrial definitions)
    • The people who work for CI firms are risk-takers, multi-disciplinary, ‘mavericks’ (occupational definitions)
    • Therefore, are the ‘creative industries’ just confined to the 13 sub-sectors…?
  • 15. For example, designers can be found in a multitude of different firms from different ‘industries’…
  • 16. { What do they do and how do they work? }
    • So, creative industries are difficult to ‘pin down’, as the overlap (e.g. machinima) and change quickly
    • Sub-sectoral boundaries start to lose their veracity if one starts to look at what is actually going on…
  • 17. { What do they do and how do they work? }
    • Project-based work is crucial to the CIs and many people often work short-term, part-time contracts
    • Brings together different types of people and companies together to work toward a single goal
    • Often companies are set up precisely for a project (e.g. for a film – “Constant Gardener plc”, Red Pants ltd”) and then dissolved once the project is completed
    • Events are also important
  • 18. Often products and the way they are designed can define the creative industries… …what are these?
  • 19.  
  • 20.  
  • 21.  
  • 22.  
  • 23.  
  • 24. { Where are they? }
    • Fundamentally associated with the city
      • For example, London accounts for 32% of CI jobs in UK
    • Within the city, CI firms will be close together to benefit from economies of spatial agglomeration (or clustering)
    • Social networking is a critical success factor in the CIs (local ‘buzz’)
    • Not necessarily in office blocks or the city centre, but studios in the suburbs or operating out of their home
  • 25. Top 100 publishing companies in London…
  • 26. Soho film cluster (top 100 firms)…
  • 27. Top 100 CI companies in London by postcode…
  • 28. { Where are they? }
    • Globally, the US houses the most productive and largest companies (the media majors, software etc), with few ‘global south’ cities
  • 29. { Where are they? }
    • As the CIs are considered part of the ‘new economy’ (or ‘knowledge economy’ or ‘information economy’), they are technologically deterministic
    • Therefore, no wonder cities of the ‘global south’ do not fair well in CI production
    • The CIs as a concept, a predominantly a western phenomenon, but vibrant ‘subsectors’ exist outside the West;
      • Bollywood & Nollywood
      • North African music
      • Hong Kong film industry
      • Rio Carnival
  • 30. { The future of the creative economy }
    • The creative industries are gaining popularity from national governments around the world (e.g. Korea, Singapore, Brazil, Russia)
    • Manufacturing firms will continue to use ‘creatives’ in their production processes
    • Sub-sectors will continue to blur as technology increases
    • Projects and events are increasingly important ways in which CIs organise themselves
  • 31. { The future of the creative economy }
    • Arguments that we need to ‘design our ways out’ of the global resource/climate change problems
    • A ‘cognitive revolution’ is underway? Based on the themes of creativity, innovation and interdisciplinarity
  • 32. { Books/Further reading } Richard Caves (2000) – Creative Industries David Hesmondhalgh (2002) – Cultural Industries Richard Florida (2005) – Cities and the Creative Class John Howkins (2002) – The Creative Economy