This morning I noticed that the Australian state New South Wales have set up a taskforce for growth in the creative industries. Similarly, last week the mayor of Copenhagen in Denmark set up a creative industries task force too, Copenhagen Creative Task Force. It is great to see this kind of support for creative industries but there are at least two worries with these initiatives from my perspective.
Firstly, they seem to focus solely on economic growth and not consider the side effects of the creative industries. I think it is so important in these times we begin to look at whether there are other types of values which we should create – and indeed the creative industries can create – like social value or aesthetic value. There are a number of creative entrepreneurs like Livity in the UK that focus intrinsically on the social value. It is a great shame if these are not recognised as they can save these very same local governments significant amounts of tax money on other budgets.
Secondly, and related in some ways, they do not seem to address the wider question of whether we want to keep growing economies. I am reminded by the economist Umair Haque’s thoughts on GDP as a obsolete way of measuring our wealth. Umair Haque talks about building an economy which makes people’s lives better in real human terms.
So while both are very worthy initiatives they might benefit from a more nuanced perception of the creative industries as a cash cow just waiting to be milked.
If you are interested in Umair Haque’s thinking a good place to start is his 20 minute presentation for the Rebuild21 conference which can be watched here.