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A way to understand Creative Business?
Artist Jörgen Svensson has an exhibition at Göteborgs Konstförening until May 6 where he is reflecting on the discussion of creative businesses. In this painting looking like cross stitch he is reflecting on David Throsby’s and UK’s (Departement of Culture, Sport, and Media) concentric circles.
The artist is in the center. Around him or her you find those surrounding the creative business; parasites (brown), idiots (red), fatheads (blue), assholes (green)…
commissioned by Region Västra Götaland to follow up the region’s performance within its five focus areas. Indicators were chosen for the different areas, but when measured the focus area Culture was glowing empty. There were no available statistics.
Cultural organizations feel obliged to commission economic impact studies since this is what everyone else does and is expected by the funder. But no-one, including the public funder, trust the figures. Well-performed studies get mixed with less relevant ones and the figures can’t be trusted. It becomes a charade, or as Hasan Bakhshi, Director at Creative Industries in Nesta’s Policy and Research Unit, calls it in his speech in Sidney on March 20: A Prisoners’ Dilemma. In worst case these impact studies are used as evidence for decision-makers in lack of something else.
At School of Business, Economics and Law University of Gothenburg last Friday (Arpil 20) measuring the value of culture was on the agenda. Invited experts in the field presented aspects and research challenges in the seminar The Value of Culture.
Professors Bruno S Frey, Trine Bille, David Throsby and PhD student John Armbrecht all pointed at the need of finding relevant indicators for cultural value. Economic value has one singel unit to measure from (money), while cultural value is multi-faceted and has no single unit of account, as David Throsby put it. This calls for other methods of valuation (as something different than value) and as he concluded; a more holistic approach of valuation is necessary.
Trine Bille was looking at cultural policy and the tendency in the Nordic Countries to look more at the growth perspective rather than the welfare one. But, she concluded, the welfare perspective is often under-estimated and the growth perspective highly exaggerated in cultural policy. The biggest value of the Cultural and Creative Industries is the created value in other areas outside its own field.
Perhaps the most remembered quotes were ”Simplicity has some virtue” (David Throsby) and ”Just look at raw figures. If you don’t see any effects in the raw facts don’t run after it. You will find statistics if you do, but not relevant one” (Bruno S Frey).
FunctionFox, a Canadian company helping small companies improve productivity, has done a survey of more than two hundreds professionals within marketing, advertising, web design and the likes across the US. The aim was to see what these businesses are expecting the coming year in development or challenges in their businesses.
They found, for example, that even though times are hard and economy swaying, 43% of the small creative firms they surveyed expect to increase staff during the year. 52% expected to keep the current staff level.
Firms employing seven or more staff were more likely to add staff during 2012, while with six or fewer employees were more likely to maintain their staff.
It also showed that creative companies with eight or fewer employees are most optimistic about having a revenue growth. Large firms were more careful in their anticipation.
Read more here: FunctionFox-Creative-Industry-Outlook-2012.pdf.
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