Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

14. Economy and culture


Human Matrix

Mapping of Cultural resources

Cultural planning



14. Economy and Culture

14.1 Creative Industries

14.2 Intangible economy

14.3 Arts management and experts

14.4 Responsiveness to cultural needs


Economy as classical definition means use of resources in the most efficient way so as to produce maximum output with least possible waste. There have been over time various definitions attempted to alter this basic concept. Adam Smith added ‘division of labor’ while Bataille argued that the irrationality of the market linked higher prize to risk of life in gaining that product e.g. fur of a polar bear. Understandably Jean Paul Sartre exemplified the dialectic between abstract and concrete richness or purchasing power for the value of the currency is always in relationship to something. That has not changed even with the introduction of the Euro while the opening of markets has altered the flow of goods and services provided by a complex interrelationship between informal, semi-formal and formal markets. Nowadays everyone speaks about the global economy with leading economic, financial and fiscal policy directed by various institutions, including states, European Commission, World Bank etc. development towards a measurable outcome called economic growth, employment, real estate development, price and even living index with the main parameters being state debt, liquidity problems of companies, innovation and inflation rate. The materialization of certain goods within an economy seem to have nothing to do with other kinds of materializations but they do as the reflective capacity and therefore conscious policy instruments based on policy research alters outlooks once marketing and managerial capacity begins to determine factors of the economy. These may be called efficiency or as did Phil Cooke as sharing of such values that everyone prides him- or herself to participate in a ‘culture of excellence’. There are regional differences and therefore different types of developments while conscious policy efforts are directed towards such development that social and economic cohesion can be attained and with it the Lisbon agreement to put at least the European economy on a knowledge base to allow adaptation to the challenges of the Information Society fulfilled. All this is, however, still very far removed from an interesting concept that Louis Baeck developed already in 1994 when he spoke about the Mediterranean compared to the Atlantic tradition. While the former includes the economy in the culture and therefore the household with its activities the Atlantic tradition foresees a separation between the economy and culture. That has many implications to date for how labor market aside from qualification strategies are affected once certain key concepts are realized under the general rule of globalization pressure to adapt to new financial and political conditions. Here the break down of many people who cannot cope any longer with the permanent unstable situation has become more than an economic a cultural crisis.

Consequently raising the cultural question with regards to the economy means cities have entered a most difficult terrain. By now the modern trend to replace former industries with new areas of work called for lack of a better word ‘cultural industries’ or even ‘creative industries’ has manifested itself in almost every city.

Culture on the agenda with regards to the economy entails a double meaning, namely as transition from former industrial times into the new age economy which is understood under such difficult terms as ‘globalization’ and ‘Information Society’; and it reflects the desire to keep old policy tools used for an industrial sector even though the question has to be asked if the same tools for coal miners can be used for writers, film makers, graphic designers, webmasters etc. all of which make up this new type of economy. Both physically and conceptually the terms of references have changed. Transactions are of a different kind. Highly qualitative work may be comprised into a flash second of insight as to what new combinations to use if only the lay-out is to take on a more readable format. Anyone familiar with the difference of good compared to bad websites will know this is no easy task as making a good poster was in reality a highly sophisticated art with highlights being some particular movements in the Czech Republic or in Poland. These art forms were refined by political humor as the entire society seemed to go into opposition to the established system and therefore art and politics became a renowned name for not flexing the muscle but highlighting through creativity exactly the difference to the drudgery not imaged but imposed by a stifling bureaucracy doing all the footwork for a particular political system. Not surprisingly many are missing now those creative phases in the opposition once the Eastern system of governance came tumbling down with the Berlin Wall in 1989. Since then the parameters have changed not only for artists but also for what governs and seeks to shape and to determine the relationship between economy and culture.

14.1 Creative Industries

While the search goes on for proper policy tools, it must be said that here major differences in the way usually consultations make their way into policy areas impede governments and public authorities from adopting the proper attitude towards the arts and artists. [1] Even if at European level there have sprung up some lobby organizations like EFAH (European Forum for Arts and Heritage), they have little mandate as they are not directly working with and in steady contact with artists themselves. Consequently they no longer appreciate nor really know how to induce a spirit within the system which is conducive to good and creative work. Often there are found in the midst of all negotiations some cultural workers or those who have devoted their energies to safeguarding specific branches, while others move in and out of informal and formal organizations for the theatre, but the political basis of all argumentation remains weak as they have no tools to make the proper analysis nor the linkage to other argumentative strategies being shaped within the governing institutions.

Hence the overall complaint culture is not merely neglected but even the DG for Education and Culture has a hard time making itself be heard within the European Commission. Consequently there is a search going on to find proof of importance for culture. Rather than giving recognition to what various artistic endeavors achieve by themselves, and that independent of any major funding, culture is suddenly asked to provide the proof that the adopted policy is the right one.

It is this proof giving reversal that culture is forced into nowadays which spells a misunderstanding as to what the arts and culture can do for society. As any critical writer will know he is not there to defend a political decision or to tell the politician that he or she is doing a good job. Moreover, if projects become funded with the help of organizations whose actions are more than doubtful, then the integrity and authenticity stands to debate as to what people get involved in. If they loose their voice in the process, then a neglect of the ethical principles behind every creative act comes at a huge prize. Moreover, if fashionable trends shape most ideas then what sells seems to be the only criterion when in fact culture has never excluded anyone and more so needs to stand by those who are outside the established system. For it is humanity at stake and for which culture must take sides.

When the European Commission, specifically the DG Education and Culture selected KEA European Affairs to carry out this study it had not only in mind to upgrade the importance of culture but also wished to show how crucial culture had become within the European Union for economic development.

The study aims to highlight the direct (in terms of GDP, growth and employment) as well as the indirect (links between creativity and innovation, links with the ICT sector, regional development and attractiveness) contribution of the cultural and creative sectors towards the Lisbon Agenda.

To introduce the study the European Commission quotes a few figures:
- The sector turned over more than 654 billions Euros in 2003.
- The sector contributed to 2,6% of EU GDP in 2003.
- The overall growth of the sector's value added was 19,7% in 1999-2003.
- In 2004, at least 5,8 million people worked in the sector, equivalent to 3,1% of total employed population in Europe.

Within the chapter dealing with EUROPE’S COMPETITIVENESS RESTS IN CULTURE AND CREATIVITY, there can be found following introductory text:

“Alan Greenspan former chairman of the US Federal Reserve stated in 2005: “over the past half-century, the increase in the value of raw materials has accounted for only a fraction of the overall growth of US gross domestic product. The rest of that growth reflects the embodiment of ideas in products and services that consumers’ value. This trend has, of necessity, shifted the emphasis in asset valuation from physical property to intellectual property and to the legal rights inherent in intellectual property”.

Whilst developing countries are on their way to producing half of the world’s manufacturing export, it seems that Europe’s economic future lies with its leadership in creativity and innovation.

We are living in a “post-industrialised economy”. The prediction is that the cultural & creative sector is going to become as important as car-making and coal mining once used to be. Europe’s competitiveness in the world will depend on its ability to nurture its creative talents and industries. As underscored throughout this study, creativity is an essential competitive tool which is nurtured largely by cultural activities. In turn, creativity is a key component of innovation underlining their interdependence. A policy fostering innovation has to take into account the capacity of its people and industries to be creative, as creativity is not reserved to the traditional world of arts but nourishes large sectors of the economy such as: the textile and luxury industries (fashion design), the car industry (design) as well as the media and the ICT industries.

Strangely, the size and scale of the cultural & creative sector in the EU, as well as its potential for growth, remain largely unknown.

The “cultural & creative sector” feels that governments do not really care. Whereas it is assumed that more than half the jobs in manufacturing have been lost since the late 90’s, Europe fails to account for the wealth and jobs created in the “cultural & creative sector”.

“Creative people do not get the backing they deserve because you can’t put a figure on creative value” (Ian Livingston, Creative Director Eidos)

In addition, the economic and business literature of the subject is strongly biased toward the US media industry with the risk of losing sight of Europe’s peculiarities, in particular in terms of market structure (languages, market fragmentation and strong localised content vs. international).

Creators themselves can, to some extent, share some of the blame for this situation. Some of them are understandably ambivalent concerning the attempt to associate art and creativity with business productivity and efficiency. The market is not necessarily perceived as the best vehicle to drive artistic creativity.” [2]

ArtForum sums up the impressive figures which the EU study reveals in its Newsletter of December 18, 2006:

"A European Union commission will put down a set of proposals for a common cultural policy by June 2007. As APA and Der Standard report, it is the first time that the EU has undertaken such an initiative since the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 made culture a part of the EU agenda. . . . According to a financial study commissioned by the agency, culture employs 5.8 million (3.1 percent of employed EU citizens) and accounts for 2.6 percent of gross GNP, more than the chemical industry (2.3 percent) and real estate (2.1 percent). Cultural profits—in 2003, estimated at €654 billion ($866.8 billion)—outdo the auto industry (€271 billion [$359.2 billion]), as well as information and communication technologies (€541 billion [$717 billion]).” [3]

European context

Watching 258 cities

“The gigantic European project of the Urban Audit is easier to access. The comprehensive presentation on the Urban Audit in Bilbao prompted BO to consult the project. If you go quick, the home page features a (strangely undated) report on how cities comply with the Lisbon Agenda. With our sectorial pride (or chauvinism) we look for the attention that culture receives in this vital context. Of the 21-page text one is about culture: “Culture has become an important tool to promote a city and to attract “creative industries.” Culture is now seen by many mayors as an important “soft” locational factor in attracting knowledge workers… Events have become a key tool for attracting visitors and changing a city’s image.” Culture is not recognised here as an engine; its indirect role is acknowledged. No indicators are quoted, however a few good “practices” are presented. Three references to superstar Florida, none to European authors on the creative city and related concepts.

The report treats population growth as an indicator of progress. Which recalls the lecture by Phil Cooke in Caernarfon (previous memo), demonstrating that “creativity and cultural strength are often a precursor to later demographic and economic growth.”

Lewis told us in Bilbao about the intention to enrich the cultural component. He was especially open to suggestions about how to measure the role of festivals and other cultural events. “

Memo from Budapest: Peter Inkei

International comparison

Two examples may highlight something often not discussed in Europe: the need for a proper legislative framework so that work in progress at policy level can be linked to what would amount to an overall valorization process of individual creativity. However this leads to the question of ownership and rightful exchange of money for services rendered but of what kind when in fact an entire community can be considered as the framework for creative work provided such a community has a self understanding of rewarding itself collectively and not merely individually. So property law and copy right issues have to be resolved in a way that allows for another way to make money to be spent collectively rather than individually.

The other point is the spending or purchasing power of the cultural sector. As anyone knows when it comes to organize an exhibition with some workshops, many activities involving all sorts of work unfold from the materials needed for the exhibition to the posters and public relations work as an extension of how to reach the public. Formulated into purchasing power a small exhibition involving 60 people can cost easily 20 000 Euros over a three day period while the long term impact on education of children and international contacts cannot be so easily assessed but does mean an alteration in the learning process of how a local community adopts to international affairs.

Bosley Announces Creative Economy Legislation
iBerkshires.com (North Adams, MA), 5/28/2007
IN Massachusetts, "Representative Daniel E. Bosley (D-North Adams) announced today that he has filed a bill that would create the 'Commonwealth Creative Economy Council' within the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. The 'creative economy' includes areas such as arts, culture, and tourism, but also high technology industries such as software development and web design, publishing, architecture, advertising, and a broad range of related and interconnected industries that have their origin in individual creativity."

Arts Economy Is Robust, Report Finds
Philanthropy News Digest, 5/23/2007
"The non-profit arts and culture industry in the United States is economically robust and has a significant national impact, a new report from Americans for the Arts finds. The report, Arts and Economic Prosperity III (summary, 24 pages, PDF), found that the nation's non-profit arts and culture industry has grown steadily, expanding at a rate greater than inflation, since 1992, when the organization conducted its first analysis of the sector. Moreover, between 2000 and 2005, spending by arts organizations and their audiences grew 24 percent, from $134 billion to 166.2 billion in total economic activity, with arts organizations spending $63.1 billion and their audiences spending an additional $103.1 billion in event-related activities."


So while the debate focuses on what to expect, what not from this emerging new economic sector, there are those who either jump on the band wagon and wish like the Greens in Hamburg to transform even the harbor into a ‘harbor of ideas’ while others like Spyros Mercouris begin to draw the line where to defend culture against this economic encroachment becomes also a way to defend the legacy of the past. As he would put it culture is always something more than just the economy; culture absorbs the past, shapes the present and anticipates the future.

14.2 Intangible economy

Consequently the performance of the ‘intangible economy’ is of vital importance for the future. Just as UNESCO recognizes there is a difference between tangible and intangible heritage, the flux of ideas which can keep going dialogues between cultures must continue for otherwise in a world bereft by war and conflicts will succumb to an entire new set of enemy pictures with productions thereof already following models of the Cold War period with secret funds ensuring that public media does not become the spokesperson for a certain group, but instead the socialisation and finally adoption of a friendly attitude towards leading nations like the United States of America is guaranteed. This is why BBC closed down so many national radio stations such as in Greece in order to finance one big television station in the Middle East meant to influence directly the Arabic world.

Without doubt these major shifts in resources will have their impact upon the dispositions of the intangible economy to uphold certain works and flows of ideas. A good indicator for that is what programs are closed down because they are culturally demanding and of high quality level while editorial justification is given to these alterations by wishing to change the overall style away from in depth in analysis to but a superficial flash of news as if this would focus interest in world affairs to but advertisement like short bites of 5 seconds and no more. The patience of listening to anything longer seems to be getting less and less. Therefore the overall work style in the intangible economy adopts forms of managing information without concession to the cultural demand to think through options and to work with memory over a longer stretch of time before any meaningful outcome is being produced. What curtails the intangible economy is exactly this: the great impatience for people are made to expect concrete results and therefore all outcomes are geared to be just that, highly visible even if like fire works they exist in the sky but for a few seconds before they vanish and with it the effect of being just another spectacle.

14.3 Arts management and experts

Clearly with the change in parameters cities have acknowledged and adopted new training and education policies. It is already to be predicted that these newly educated cultural workers will alter the cultural profiles of cities seeking to become more European and international insofar as the ‘cultural fields’ require quite new and innovative approaches. This is felt especially in the way arts management and corresponding experts are called for when it comes to organize festivals, run museums and undertake such extensive programs as being a Cultural Capital City for one year. If cities spend already nearly 2 Million Euros to just qualify, and for instance seven Spanish cities are already competing for the year 2016, while Germany had ten cities competing for the designation in 2010, then alone this competitiveness requires quite other skills when it comes to combine arts and management.

Before alterations in education and training are made, a new perception is needed as to what is required to link the economy and culture in a different, more fruitful way than in the past. A good example of this modern trend is the International Cultural Centre in Krakow. In a small booklet  called ‘Heritage and Transformation’ its director and author Jacek Purchla, writes emphatically that:

“The only possible guarantee of success in this process of total protection is to incorporate cultural heritage into the new economic system wisely (and not exclude it from that system). This entails the need to find a harmonious compromise between the canons of preservation and the demands of life and the laws of economics. Comprehensive protection of cultural heritage must also be viewed from the perspective of the creation of what the Germans call a Kulturgesellschaft, and also with awareness that the culture sector has an economic dimension (something we were taught to ignore in recent decades). Culture is part of the system of connected vessels that is our economic and social life, and as such today effective protection of the historic quarters of large cities is impossible without a suitable economic, management and social policy strategy. Key to this issue is the challenge of integrating appropriate urban functions into what are often depressed historic areas.” [4]

As professional requirements change, so also grows the awareness much more needs to be done at primary and secondary educational levels for future students to understand and to appreciate culture and the arts. Art is very much a lesson in changes of perception while following lawfulness linked to the art of proportionality and authentic expression. Very different standards of truthful expressions are tested and reviewed. Even young students grappling with an urban environment which appears to have little or no meaning, can come to terms through photography with spatial questions linked to how the human body figures in such a landscape of railway tracks, car parks, empty houses, or waste lands marked by cigarette buds. Perceiving the self as something similar to mere waste, working through solutions until a meaningful answer can be found not only at the level of creativity, but in real terms shall not be easy. Destiny and fate are linked as much as people wishing to escape the routine of work done by those who seem unhappy and therefore are not convincing that this is the path towards a happy life. Confrontation at an early age with different life styles as expressed through the arts may be also an effective way of dealing with superficiality and with waste lands as gaps in meaning can be overcome by making real experiences and obtaining a chance to express creativity in another way than just the usual and obligatory one. For want of a better term the working through this maze of complexity can be the finding of an attitude which allows the discovery of the real attributes of the arts for a life with meaning. It goes without saying that this will have to involve the senses and such an education system which can prepare students for facing doubt as much as new challenges.

Art classes may become mandatory
Fay Observer (Fayetteville, NC), 5/29/2007
In Fayetteville, NC, School Superintendent Bill Harrison "has suggested that every high school student should have to take an art class, starting with the freshmen entering in 2008. He plans to formally ask the Board of Education to approve the measure this summer. . . . The State Board of Education might make art a requirement in the future, but Harrison does not want to wait."

14.4 Responsiveness to cultural needs

Throughout these descriptive remarks on how cities shape their dispositions towards culture and learn how to make use or not in the best possible way of cultural resources one thing comes always through. It is a difference to the law of supply and demand as defining the market. If culture creates its own demand then the desire to hear good music sets it apart from anything having to do with artificial and superfluous creation of needs just that something is consumed for the benefit of the economy. The fall out of modern consumption economy is the enormous waste with many more people left at the wayside because they cannot cope. Culture has another approach and it shows how the Blacks in the ghettos seized upon the electric guitar to let out this wail of pain and love for life even when at the brink of being left abandoned by that big love which went away and will not come back. “You love me no mo’!” To give in the moment of greatest unhappiness that little twist and to show what big difference just a tiny little effort makes not to give up but to go on trying, that has also to do with working through remorse and regrets, disappointments and injustices, if only to know that normal life can also be perceived out of the perspective of Huckleberry Finn who according to Mark Twain knew better to outwit established society than he as a writer could ever do himself. Much subversive logic is entailed in the imagination when put to work and that means people are not left alone in their fates but find a new way to rekindle their hope and desire to live.

Culture is the big human gesture towards the individual that there is a chance to gain dignity and love and human warmth as respect is not pride. The latter leads only to loneliness, said Pablo Neruda, that big poet who confessed at the end of his life that he had lived. His own poetry is an expression of what trust people had in him. His poems form that big river in which the experiences of the people of Chile flowed down to the sea to join with what can be perceived as humanity. An Arabic writer and professor of comparative literature warned accordingly what happens if the dialogue between cultures is no longer possible and therefore the different cultural streams no longer join to form one river of humanity?

Indeed, what seems to be missing most of all in today’s world of communication is responsiveness to cultural needs. Most of these needs go unnoticed and if recognized there is no one to fulfill them. People wait their entire lives sometimes to be spoken to in a way that they fill truly to be understood for what they stand for and what they have gone through in their lives whether marginal or as a football star or as a teacher. Always there is a matter of finding such human empathy which touches upon the continuity of life itself.


[1] Meant is that a writer finds more recognition if his books are read or a musician listened to. The politician and the audience must become engaged in the direction of greater appreciation and therefore receptivity as key cultural quality distinguishes the artistic sector, if it can be called as such, from any other normal economic activity and what lobby interests can be linked to that e.g. farmers and their wish for subsidies. So far subsidies of the arts has been marginal compared to what importance is given to livelihood and therefore food and natural resources. Cultural resources are not, so it seems, of the same order and disposition nor can they be treated as if a tangible commodity since primarily the flux of ideas remains at its best if intangible and more so a potential in constant flux.

[2] http://ec.europa.eu/culture/eac/sources_info/studies/economy_en.html

[3] http://www.artforum.com/news/week=200650

[4] Jacek Purchla, (2005) Heritage and Transformation, Krakow, p. 54

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