Sunday 1 November, 10.45am until 12.15pm, Student Union
In 1998 the DCMS placed the ‘creative industries’ at the heart of the nation’s economic future. Over ten years later, in the midst of recession, Prime Minister Gordon Brown declared, ‘In the coming years, the creative industries will be important…for our national prosperity’. The recent Creative Britain Strategy aims to move the creative industries from the margins to the mainstream of the UK economy. This is cited as good news for the arts world, in the face of impending savage cuts. Now the arts seem keen to rebrand themselves as wealth creators rather than a sectional interest in need of state subsidy. While there has been something of a backlash against this ‘instrumentalist’ approach to the arts, the Old Vic’s Kevin Spacey was widely applauded for provocatively stating: ‘The question is not “What can the economy do for our arts?” but “What can the arts do for our economy?”’. Spacey claimed artists have neglected using ‘the economic impact of arts and culture as the centrepiece’ of appeals for support.
Research from Nesta suggests the ‘cultural sector’will grow by 4% between 2009 and 2013 - double the estimate for the rest of the economy. But critics argue this is this more a reflection of the weakness of British economic activity, rather than of a dynamism to the arts per se. Lord David Puttnam’s famous boast that ‘Our rock musicians contribute more to the balance of payments than the steel industry’ is telling. Moreover, James Heartfield points out in the book Culture Vultures that early estimates of creative industry earnings were inflated by counting the likes of computer software (nearly half the total). Today the arts are grouped together with a range of commercial and often non-artistic activities – advertising, design, publishing, video games, television and radio – under the heading ‘creative industries’.
What about the value of art in its own terms? Can the arts shoulder the burden of regenerating economic life? Can the ‘creative industries’ save the economy, or is this just wishful thinking and special pleading? What are the problems with expecting culture to be commercially successful?
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former controller, BBC Radio 4; founder, Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature and Glasgow UNESCO City of Music; chair, British Council Scotland
|Dr Richard Howells|
reader in Culture, Media and Creative Industries, King's College London
convenor, The Academy; author, Being Cultured: in defence of discrimination
founder and secretary-general, European Cultural Parliament; former Swedish ambassador; author, The Gala Concert, Verdi/Wagner 200 years
writer; critic; political strategist and policy advisor; co-founder, Stonewall
Dr Tiffany Jenkins
writer and broadcaster; author, Keeping Their Marbles: how treasures of the past ended up in museums and why they should stay there
Tracey Emin, one of the leading lights of the Britart movement, is preparing to quit the country because of Gordon Brown’s 50% tax rate for the wealthy.Richard Brooks, The Times, 5 October 2009
Boris Johnson has called for voluntary museum charges on the American model to combat the effects of the recession.Ben Bailey, London Evening Standard, 22 September 2009
The Arts Council is recruiting 150 theatregoers to help them make funding decisions. But can we rely on their reports?Lyn Gardner, Guardian Unlimited, 10 September 2009
The world economic crisis and the election of Barack Obama will change the future of higher education. Even as universities, both public and private, face unanticipated financial constraints, the president has called on them to assist in solving problems from health care delivery to climate change to economic recovery.Drew Gilpin Faust, New York Times, 1 September 2009
“When you bring artists into a town, it changes the character, attracts economic development, makes it more attractive to live in and renews the economics of that town”Robin Pogrebin, New York Times, 7 August 2009
It’s not charity or empty philanthropy. It’s an investment in jobs and our collective soul.Kevin Spacey, The Times, 9 May 2009
From the economic point of view, this was the year video games overtook music and video, combined, in the UK. The industries’ respective share of the take is forecast to be £4.64 billion and £4.46 billion.John Lanchester, London Review of Books, 1 January 2009
Creative Britain: New Talents for a New Economy is a strategy document for the Creative Industries: it documents 26 commitments, which outline how the Government will take action to support the creative industries.DCMS, DCMS, February 2008
Politicians and policy-makers take every opportunity to talk up the arts' importance to society...the arts are now not only good in themselves, but are valued for their contribution to the economy, urban regeneration and social inclusion.
Munira Mirza (ed.), Policy Exchange, 3 January 2007