18 09 06
Critique of Creative Industries
A Workshop in Kiasma Museum, Helsinki, 31.8. – 1.9. 2006
concepts of the CI as a mixture of a new economic concept brought forward most
prominently by Richard Florida and older European concepts of the role of
intellectuals in society. Cognitive capitalism can, thus, be understood as the
neo-liberal turn-around of the concept of the general intellect as e.g.
proposed by Operaism. While the European left has focused on the representative
part of cognitive work, Florida
emphasizes its productive part. The traditional definition of the Bohemian as a
person with high education and low income is transformed into an economic
development programme by Florida.
However, it seems questionable if Florida’s
analysis is sound out of an economic point of view. Maybe, instead of cities
becoming affluent due to their creativity, creatives go to affluent cities.
Leslie argued that
parallel to the economisation and privatization of culture and creativity,
culture has been subjected to government and state intervention by cultural
policies. She brought forward the argument (highly contested within the
workshop) that this subjection has been supported by cultural studies. Cultural
studies in their focus on symbolic values have neglected conditions of
production and, thereby, furthered late capitalist modes of subsumption and not
least the success of the creative industries.
concretely, Aku Alanen analysed the use of the term “Creative
Industries” in statistics and, consequently, in cultural politics and called
for a rejection of the concept as, due to its fuzziness and all-inclusiveness,
it obfuscates the structures of different sectors included under this header.
In this vein, he analysed statistical data on the constant growth of the CI and
thereby showed that, in fact, software industries are growing while the
cultural sector is declining.
Out from a
different perspective, Ulf Wuggenig deconstructed contemporary
interpretations of creativity focussing thereby on conceptualizations of art
history. By emphasizing the role of arts dealers in 19th century art
sociologists like Harrison and Cynthia White have promoted an understanding of “the
dealer as genius” claiming that the role of art dealers was crucial for the
success of artists such as Monet. By looking more concretely at stories of
artistic success Wuggenig makes plausible that this interpretation is rather
due to contemporary paradigms than to historical accurateness.
Vadén deconstructed the notion of the creative commons as a generally
desirable alternative to the CI. Due to the different affluence and access to
technology in different parts of the world, creative commons are nearly
exclusively developed in the USA
and Europe as can be seen in the geographical
position of developers of GNU and Linux. Furthermore, commonly developed
contents like Wikipedia further promote the use of English as a lingua franca
and, consequently, reduce multilingualism. Thus, Vadén defines the impact of
the creative commons as a new form of colonialism.
studies shared the observation of an increasing neo-liberal orientation of
cultural policies. Raimund Minichbauer analysed the policy strategies of
the European Commission as part of EUropean neo-liberal politics. Programmes
supporting the political or social function of culture are weak and becoming continuously
less ambitious as a comparison between “Culture 2007” and “Culture 2000” shows.
Mainly, cultural policy is understood as competition and employment policy
while the latter usually neglects the quality of employment. Copyright
questions based on the concept of economic competition in the production of
content play a crucial role.
question of copyright was taken up by Branka Ćurčić with regard to the
post-communist countries. For capitalism, the importance of property has led to
the historical spread of this concept to ever new sectors - from the property
of land to the property of means of production to the property of information.
In Communist countries, copyright played a completely different role; it did
not have much importance as a legal entitlement but was, on the one hand, part
of the social support system and, on the other hand, a means of censorship.
Thus, the capitalist copyright system means a radical change for these
countries. This rupture is intensified by EU regulations, above all the
Copyright Directive that combines the hardest legal measures of all Member
States and, e.g., allows house searches and the freezing of accounts in cases
of alleged copyright infringements. In the debates on copyright cultural
producers question certain dimensions of property rights in this field but not
the concept of property in general.
and Austrian contributions focussed on concrete developments in national
cultural politics and their impact on the cultural sector. For Finland,
Marita Muukkonen described the development of Finnish cultural politics
in three phases – nation building from the end of the 19th century
to the 1960s, welfare ideology from the 1960s to the 1990s and an increasing
economic orientation since then. This economic orientation goes hand in hand
with a growing emphasis on national culture that became obvious when, in summer
2006, a media debate on “Finnishness” developed focusing above all on the claim
that immigrants have to become acquainted with Finnish culture. The combination
of economic and national orientation becomes obvious in the fact that the
Finnish arts-exchange-programme has been renamed “programme for cultural
exportation”. Marketta Seppälä added to this description some further
facts pointing to a similar direction: Finland
ends its “artists-in-residence”-programme and the Nordic Council for the Arts
closes down the Forum for Contemporary Arts in Helsinki while the Nordic Innovation Centre
has developed a programme for cultural economics.
traditional Austrian cultural politics as a mixture of patronizing politics
towards culture and the arts, mostly focussing on the cultural heritage, and a
strong and well developed welfare state. The concept of the creative industries
does not fit into this scheme and, consequently, Austrian political measures in
this regard are characterised by helplessness and ineffectiveness. Still, the
creative industries play an increasing role in Austria due to creatives taking up
this concept as part of their self-understanding.
contributions dealt with the ways in which cultural workers oppose the
neo-liberal paradigm. Maria Lind described artistic practices aiming at
gaining economic and political autonomy, e.g. the New York City based
initiative “16 Beaver” that owns a house in Lower Manhattan and uses income
from rents for artistic projects, or the Berlin bookshop “pro qm” understanding
itself as a place for debating alternative spaces for cultural productions and,
at the same time, as a practical example of such an alternative space. In a
different way, the Manifesto Club in London
aims at developing niches from hegemonic paradigms by claiming for a “strategic
separatism” of the arts. Similarly, the project “Opacity” of the Nordic
Institute for Contemporary Art” claimed the right of artistic institutions to
renounce transparency in order to be able to experiment.
in his speech on the French movement of the “intermittants du spectacle”,
people who are temporarily employed in cultural projects and, between these
phases, live from unemployment benefits. The French cultural sector encompasses
three, structurally different, sub-sectors: the public sector, the creative
industries (above all TV/cinema) and the independent sector. People working for
culture are either continuously employed or intermittants and their incomes
differ widely. From the 400.000 people working in the French cultural sector,
100.000 are intermittants. The movement of the intermittans was started by the
poorest intermittants working outside of the creative industries. It was a
protest against a change of unemployment insurance: in the future, the number
of days for which benefits are paid should depend on one’s own payments into
unemployment insurance. This does not only mean a deterioration for concrete
living conditions but also a paradigmatic change in the understanding of unemployment
insurance - from a collective to an individual investment. The intermittants
see themselves as permanently working in the cultural sector while only
temporarily employed and understand this form of living as opposed both to
permanent employment and to entrepreneurship. This form of organizing one’s life is endangered by
the new regulation.
Altogether, a wide variety of important issues for a critique of the Creative Industries was brought up during the workshop leading in many cases to more open questions than convincing answers - which is, as we know, a characteristic of most intellectually fruitful engagements.