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Politics of Creativity or Creative Politics?

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It’s taken a bit of time for the dust to settle on the coalition government and already we are seeing them attempting to tackle the chronic economic malaise that we currently suffering from. Public sector cuts seem to be high on the agenda and within that we have already seen the abolishment of major planned cultural projects, such as the £45 million pledge to the  BFI; wider cuts throughout the DCMS have also been outlined. Perhaps of more relevance to the policies surrounding the creative industries is this:

So, what does ‘reviewed and rebuilt’ mean? Clues may have been given to us in Jeremy Hunt’s first speech as Culture Minister. The term ‘creative industries’ has not been completely stripped out of the political rhetoric, but it seems that the cohesiveness that they once purported is ebbing away in favour of a more digitally-orientated taxonomy, one which focuses on infrastructure and local provisioning of content. Since those infamous Mapping Documents of 1998 and 2001, there has been a great deal of debate. This seminar at the Open University a couple of years ago, for me, epitomised these debates, with Jon Newbigin’s talk in particular noting the political drive behind the ‘coalition’ of the creative industries concept (look out for a question by me to Prof. Pratt about 1 hour 5 mins in).

It seems that the 00s was the honeymoon period of the creative industries as a functional concept. I often argued that the ‘siloization’ of the creative industries into subsectors was a vacuous exercise, an attempt to justify the spending on the various councils that exist. But now, it seems that as there is an emphasis now on the delivery of content rather than the production of it, the new government is formulating a politics of individual creativity and the delivery thereof, rather than attempting to herd companies and people together in attempt to statistically justify their spending. This is a positive move. Creative industry activity has always been two or three steps ahead of any policies designed to encourage them, and their mixing of production techniques, their sharing of individuals and their cross-pollination of ideologies, has belied constant labelling and typologies. Now, with a focus on supporting the platforms for this mixing; the more rapid delivery of the content; and the room for innovation; and most importantly a policy for a digital, not analog age; this can only catalyse the productivity of the sector, and provide the financial rewards that the creative industry companies rightly deserve. It would be interesting now to see if any of this is recognised in today’s budget….

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Author: Oli

Human Geographer at Royal Holloway, University of London

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