Date: 17-18 November, 2006
Venue: Club 11, Post CS Building, Amsterdam
Organisation: Institute of Network Cultures, HvA and Centre for
MediaResearch, University of Ulster
Concept: Geert Lovink & Ned Rossiter
More information: firstname.lastname@example.org, Sabine Niederer.
Emerging out of Blair’s Britain in the late 90s as an antidote topost-industrial unemployment, early creative industries discourse wasnotable for a promotional hype characteristic of the dot.com era in theUS. Over the past 3-5 years creative industries has undergone a processof internationalisation and become a permanent fixture in theshort-term interests that define government policy packages across theworld. At the policy level, creative industries have managed totranscend the North-South divide that preoccupied research on theinformation economies and communication technologies for two decades.
Today, one finds countries as diverse as Austria, Brazil, Singapore andNew Zealand eagerly promoting the promise of exceptional economicgrowth rates of “culture” in its “immaterial” form. Governments in HongKong, Japan, Australia, and the Netherlands have initiated creativeindustries policy platforms with remarkably similar assumptions andexpectations given their very different cultural and politicalenvironments.
Despite the proliferation of the creative industries model, it remainshard to point to stories of actual “creative innovation”, or to be evensure what this might mean. What is clear -if largely unacknowledged – is that investment in “creative clusters” effectively functions toencourage a corresponding boom in adjacent real estate markets.
Herelies perhaps the core truth of the creative industries: the creativeindustries are a service industry, one in which state investment in”high culture” shifts to a form of welfarism for property developers.This smoke and mirrors trick is cleverly performed through a languageof populist democracy that appeals to a range of political and businessagents. What is more surprising is the extent to which this hype isseemingly embraced by those most vulnerable: namely, the contentproducers (designers, software inventors, artists, filmmakers, etc.) ofcreative information (brands, patents, copyrights).
Much research in the creative industries is highly speculative,interpretive and economistic, concerned with large-scale industry datarather than the network of formal and informal relations that makepossible creative production. It is also usually produced quickly, withlittle detailed qualitative analysis of the structure of economicrelationships creative industries firms operate in. In many cases, thepolicy discourses travel and are taken up without critical appraisal ofdistinctly local conditions.
In contrast to the homogeneity of creative industries at the policylevel, there is much localised variation to be found in terms of thematerial factors that shape the development of creative industriesprojects. For example, a recent UNCTAD (2004) policy report on creativeindustries and development makes note of the “precarious” nature ofemployment for many within the creative industries. Such attention tothe uneven and variable empirics of creative industries marks adeparture from much of the hype that characterised earlier creativeindustries discourse, and also reflects the spread of this discourseout of highly developed market economies to ones where the privatesector has a very different role.
This conference wishes to bring these trends and tendencies intocritical question. It seeks to address the local, intra-regional andtrans-national variations that constitute international creative industries as an uneven field of actors, interests and conditions.