The end of UK Creative Industries?

It looks like the politics on creative industries started by the New Labour in 1997 has come to an end. The incentives started in the late 90s were new and has contributed to create a market for small-scale cultural businesses, models that have been exported in Europe, all the way to Shanghai in Far East. UK has long been seen as the cradle of creative industries.

powenstflemingWhen Chris Smith was appointed by Tony Blair in 1997 to be Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sports, he could continue a process started in the 80s centred around Greater London Council (GLC). GLC described the cultural scene in London as the new ”industry” being important for creativity, social inclusion and economy. It was an attempt to describe cultural initiatives as the new industry and redefine a term first used by the two critical theorists Horkheimer and Adorno. The two were upon their arrival to the US in the 1940s chocked by how popular culture was produced in almost a factory way producing standardized culture goods. It was like an industry, they said in disgust.

The Greater London Council changed the understanding of cultural industries in the 90s, to instead describe the small-scale, cooking, multi-skilled cultural life with a potential and importance for the economy in London. Chris Smith could pick up and continue on this road, creative industries have grown and has become an important part of society and, many reports have confirmed, contribute in a substantial way to economy.

This is an epoch now being buried. Tomorrow (Wednesday, Oct 20) is Axe Wednesday, as it has been called in UK, where the government will announce massive cuts in all sectors of society. TV-news is showing expected figures of 500.000 public jobs being lost. Culture is expecting around 40% cuts in funding.

Two large factors have completely reshaped the scene: The financial crisis and the Conservative government.

The present government is reinterpreting creative industries to mainly concern media, dismantling what most understand as the large contribution of cultural industries; social inclusion, regional development, and labour market.

goldsmithsSeveral effects are expected in the cultural field, such as a total dismantling of cultural policy where for example the Film Commission has seen its last days, a complete dismantling of the regional level, a probable redefining and change of creative industries, cuts on most cultural development agencies, enormous cuts in the universities which means more focus on employability and less money on research and long-term learning.

Will this mean that we see the end of creative industries?

Interviews done in London, 18-19 October 2010, a project commissioned by Region Västra Götaland (Sweden) to do a small knowledge and research survey. Interviewed were Paul Owens at Burns Owens Partnership, Tom Fleming at Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy, Sian Prime, Director of MA Creative and Cultural Entrepreneursip at Goldsmiths University, and Gerald Lidstone, Director of Institute of Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths University.

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Lotta Lekvall
Director of Nätverkstan, a Cultural Organisation in Sweden. Nätverkstan provides services …

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