This week I am in Oslo at the kick off meeting of Creative Metropoles, and I will also be attending Kreative Oslo. I’m working on the Creative Metropoles project as a local researcher, tasked with identifying and writing up case studies of best practice in policy and funding for creative industries. Yesterday I spent an afternoon with reserachers from 12 countries, where we quickly realised that across Europe nobody knows what creative and cultural industries actually are.

As a group we struggled for a definition. The closest thing to an agreement that we came to looked very much like the DCMS definition of the industry but this was for from a complete picture. In some partner states “creative” industry is described as “experience” industry. In some partner states, the definition includes the sub-sector “meals”. As the meeting developed, the word “cultural” even became ejected from our definition of the Creative and Cultural Industries as it will pertain to this project. I did find all this rather odd. Reassuringly, as a group we hope that the process of this research (which will take place over the next three years) might lead to more consensus on the terms, and perhaps even an EU definition of “creative industry”.

With the definition up for grabs, I asked my Twitter network what they thought was meant by “creative industries”. Their answers didn’t surprise me, but do provide useful starting points for the discussion:

podnosh@jonhickman I’m think that if you can’t create something then you don’t have an industry. So all viable industry is creative.

bounder@jonhickman um “people who work at making stuff the value of which is subjectively judged”

MichelleBrogan@jonhickman an industry which uses art (in all its forms) to communicate with society

BhamRecycled@jonhickman You made me dig out my notes. One of them say: ‘Intellectual property to commodity’ which I guess is quite broad…

bounder@jonhickman i bet someone’s tried it from the other way? define what isn’t and work inwards? eg printing isn’t, print design is…?

A further side conversation developed, regarding whether or not practitioners in Social Media see themselves as part of a “creative industry” sector:

podnosh@jonhickman I don’t especially. Sectors exist so the government can organise taxing and spending, not so we can have somewhere to be.

bounder@jonhickman no, nor IT, nor industries in general – soc med is quite naturally opposed to “industries”, it’s ‘people’ where-ever they may be

peteashton@jonhickman re creative industries. I feel part of them but only when I work with people in that area. CiB, Metapod, Custard Fact, etc.

What do you think? What’s your definition of creative (and cultural) industries? How important is the word “cultural” to this understanding? How can we seperate cultural from creative industry? Should we? Are you a member of the creative industry: and if so, how do you know that you are?

Birmingham Centre For Media And Cultural Research

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