All entries for Tuesday 28 April 2015
April 28, 2015
Culture and creative industries and not just organisations and networks of individuals who generate certain kinds of potentially influential or enjoyable products/services. They involve social processes and generate cultural change, transmit knowledge, devise new forms of agency, communication and productivity, and so on. And this is not necessarily a good thing: in cities, so-called gentrification can be facilitated by spillover effects. Anyway, this is the (expansive) subject of the small research group I am a part of – and on Monday I attended the final ‘preliminary evidence’ meeting of this group, call it the European Spillover Effects research group. The main funding partners of this preliminary stage are European Centre for Creative Economy (Ruhr region, Germany), Arts Council England, Arts Council Ireland, European Cultural Foundation and a few other sleeping partners (i.e. who were not there), and 19 people turned up to meet in this design studio space in Dortmund (ecce’s city). This was the final and important meeting, where we were presented with the final report (by Tom Fleming Cultural Consultancy, who did all the hard work), and then decided how this would form the basis of a large research project. Last week, in fact, the EU URBact project on ‘Creative Spillover’ delivered its final report in Birmingham. We will, I hope, do something different.
The concept of ‘spillover’ has a complicated history, involving a broad range of subjects from the geo-politics of industrial development in European integration to the impact of media on social behaviour, to the more recent ‘effects’ of creative and cultural industries policy and practice. A lot of recent interest in spillover has been from the ‘cities’ fraternity, and so an extension of the kinds of past urban policy interest in clustering, value chains, the externalities of innovation-based industries, and the regeneration impacts of new start-ups involving all of the above. One issue that emerged was that our preliminary studies – involving my paper published by ecce (below) – were broad and exploratory and needed now to become focussed, driven with a specific agenda. (i.e. now that the European Commission has articulated interest in spillover, a number of other major research groups are emerging in the field). One aspect that distinguishes us, owing partly to Richard Russell’s leadership (Arts Council England), is the ‘public’ dimension of spillover – how can we identify a value chain trajectory for public investment? How can we trace the dynamic function of investment through policies for creative and cultural industries to actors or agencies, places or markets, and then the big contexts of sustainable societies and economies? What is the ‘public’ dimension of the innovation industries or the start up businesses whose identity and social function we so often reduce to goods/services, employment, revenues and taxes. However, in discussing this the issue of ‘place’ became problematic (given how spillover can happen a long way from immediate sites of production or location).
For me, delimiting the project needs to be done in response to specific EU policy fields – not just the obvious DG Urban then Culture, but perhaps to Territorial integration & cohesion, Citizenship/integration (multiculturalism), and even Foreign Relations and the Development Aid field, given how these kinds of dynamics could be crucial to small economies around the world trying to develop. Second, personally, I am interested in how ‘public’ investment could create the kinds of spaces, movements and organisations whose impact collapses the antagonism between the seemingly necessary binaries of private/public, commercial/arts, goods/services, social/cultural. But we first need to work through the ‘evidence library’ that the project has generated, and Tom Fleming’s initial analysis, and consider if we have the huge aspirations (spare time, energy, naivety..) for an EU funding bid.