Measuring the impact of culture on jobs and growth
Member of the European Commission responsible for Education, Culture,
Multilingualism and Youth
Measuring the impact of culture on jobs and growth
Joint Research Centre Conference – Scientific support for growth and
jobs: Cultural and creative industries /Brussels
24 October 2013
Embargo: 10:00 am
I am often invited to talk about the cultural and creative sectors, but I consider this
meeting a special occasion. Today could mark the beginning of a new process, bringing
together policy makers, representatives of the sectors and research for the benefit of
culture and its related sectors.
It is therefore a great pleasure to be here.
I wish to thank the Joint Research Centre, and Mr Ristori in particular, for taking this
initiative and for inviting me to present my thoughts.
We are here today to discuss how best to gather evidence in order to design better
policies and help place culture higher on the European agenda for growth and jobs. Our
focus will be on the spill-over effects of culture onto other sectors and on its contribution
to local and regional development.
Allow me to share some thoughts with you on these questions.
Evidence-based policymaking has become a bit of a mantra lately. It is true that,
especially in times of financial austerity, policy proposals must be backed by sound
evidence. The cultural and creative sectors are no exception - and this in no way
undermines the intrinsic value of culture as a public good.
We have seen that these sectors already contribute significantly to Europe's economy.
We know that they have the potential of contributing even more. I will not repeat the
well-known figures about the cultural and creative sectors in terms of economic output
and job creation.
I will only stress here that the cultural and creative sectors represent close to one
million, mostly small, businesses – a particularity which should be taken into account.
At the same time, we see a worrying trend among budgetary authorities who look at arts
and culture as a luxury and a cost rather than as an investment. Public budgets are
I do not suggest that we should succumb to the pressure of the economic argument, but
I call for what I consider a tactical approach.
If we wish to sound convincing when talking about the contribution of culture to the
economy and the society, we need tools at hand.
We need evaluation and measurement methods which can capture the full range of
impacts that culture and the arts have on the economy and on society. We need to map
spill-over effects on other sectors and we need to start quantifying them.
Those of you present today are convinced about the economic potential of the cultural
and creative sectors for contributing to a job-rich recovery in Europe. However, in order
to make a persuasive case to those who may not be convinced – and it is often they who
decide on budgets - we need to present evidence that is systematic, comprehensive and
Some data exists of course. About a year ago, I proposed a Communication on
promoting the cultural and creative sectors, urging Member States to develop integrated
long-term strategies at the national and regional level. Our political message then was
backed by data. But work on building evidence is never stopping. For instance, we have
seen the sectors to be resilient to the economic downturn starting in 2008, but we need
to know how they are behaving against the backdrop of a continuing recession.
Data need to be updated. They need to be expanded, honed and refined so that we can
establish a solid evidence base for adapting our policies and developing new initiatives.
With their unique combination of scientific research knowledge and EU policy experience,
our colleagues at the Joint Research Centre can help to improve how we measure the
impact of culture and develop adapted indicators. Science has a key role to play in
providing better metrics and stronger evidence and supporting effective policy-making at
all levels: local, regional, national and European.
When we speak about evidence-based policy-making for the cultural and creative sectors
we should have in mind two things: quality statistics and illustrative examples. Let me
explain what I mean.
Quality statistics can capture the economic and societal weight of the cultural and
creative sectors (for instance: contribution to the GDP, employment), the specificities of
these sectors (for example the size and profile of the businesses involved) and the
horizontal aspects linked with culture and the activities it generates: cultural
participation, values, spill-over effects.
I believe that statistics must be complemented by illustrative examples. A sound
analysis of concrete examples of the positive impacts of cultural and creative sectors on
local economies and societies should be an integral part of evidence building
methodologies. Such an analysis can help, for instance, to identify systemic elements
which determine success or failure.
This is especially relevant when it comes to local and regional development strategies.
But what have we done so far in the area of cultural statistics and examples?
The European Agenda for Culture adopted in 2007 calls for evidence-based policy and
the two Council Work Plans since 2008 identified as a priority improving the collection
and comparability of cultural statistics at European level.
With regard to statistics, useful groundwork is being conducted by Eurostat. Last year
the European Statistical System Network Culture – which was set up under the auspices
of Eurostat - proposed a new conceptual and operational statistical framework for the
cultural sector. The aim is to create a common statistical language for all EU Member
States and, ultimately, data comparable across the European Union.
This is only a starting point. My services are intensifying cooperation with Eurostat to
improve cultural statistics - in particular on cultural employment. I am keen to see
precise figures on employment in the cultural and creative Sectors, in particular as
regards young people.
However, further work on statistics requires a mobilization of resources on all sides.
We need to look into what can be done now by the Commission and the Member States,
individually and working together.
Let me now turn to a concrete example which captures well the two topics discussed
today: spill-over effects and development of cities and regions.
The European Capitals of Culture is an obvious, yet modest, case in point.
The award of the title for the European Capital of Culture sets in motion a long-term
process that can change a city, its image, its cultural sector and its citizens. The
economic and social benefits that are generated, in terms of tourism, branding, growth
and social inclusion, are felt for many years after the event. But we need to
systematically collect and study these benefits.
In addition, I would like to single out some spill-over effects that are worth stressing:
the development of skills and the creation of job opportunities, innovation and branding,
creative content and new technologies, regional development, and social inclusion.
As European Commissioner in charge of both education and culture, I attach particular
attention to creative partnerships and knowledge alliances between higher education and
businesses, including creative businesses.
Such partnerships allow us to identify the needs of the sector and help develop skills to
address labour market shortages. I believe that this approach is key to promoting youth
employment in creative industries.
The impact of design in adding value to products and services in traditional
manufacturing industries is an obvious example when talking about culture and
innovation. European design is one of Europe's great competitive advantages.
Firms that invest in creative input are far more likely to introduce product innovation and
so maintain their competitive edge.
In the area of ICTs, artistic achievements and 'creative content' feed broadband
computers and consumer electronic devices. We need reliable evidence to capture this
reality and to support the place of the cultural and creative sectors in the digital value
In terms of regional development, urban regeneration through cultural projects has
repeatedly proved to be a winning formula. Just think of the Ruhr region in Germany, a
successful example of cultural cooperation among 53 cities.
Finally, artistic interventions help to increase the effectiveness of different social policies,
with positive effects on social inclusion and well-being. Participating in cultural activities
helps to create in people a sense of belonging and shared purpose, and can prevent
social exclusion – something which is not negligible at times like today where we see
phenomena of extremism and xenophobia in different parts of Europe.
Ladies and gentlemen,
There is no lack of examples about the positive spill-over effects of culture. What we lack
is a systematic analysis of this body of evidence.
What we need is to develop our capacity to derive economic models from examples such
as those I've given. It is here that the Joint Research Centre has a crucial role to play by
addressing the fragmentation of existing evidence and improving the methodologies
used for analysing it.
A joint effort of all stakeholders and diverse expertise are required.
I am convinced that closer cooperation with the Joint Research Centre in the field of
cultural and creative sectors can serve as the much-needed 'knowledge broker' between
research and policy. The representatives of the sector should be also on board.
We could try together to mobilise networks of regions, cities and cultural operators to
make a critical mass of raw information available for testing models on real data. In
addition, this work should also be coordinated with relevant work on enterprise and
industrial policy, the digital agenda and regional and urban development.
We need to engage in dialogue and further our work jointly in the two topics proposed
today and, hopefully, even more, in the future.
A first opportunity to hear about the results of today's discussion and continue the
dialogue is the European Culture Forum, which will take place in less than two weeks in
Brussels. I hope to welcome many of you there. Thank you for your attention.