The creative economy

The economies of the most advanced industrialised nations are undergoing a momentous transformation. Since the mid-1970s manufacturing and traditional ‘heavy’ industries have been in decline. So much so, that what was foreseen in 1973 as The Coming of Post-Industrial Society has now firmly arrived in all the leading economies of the world. The new economies are not, however, the exclusive right of those who have ‘endured’ the old industrialism. New technologies are increasingly enabling nations and regions to leap-frog historical development cycles and attract those sectors of society which will create the growth economies of the future.

Previously thriving industrialised centres are suffering massive job losses and population decline. While employment from agriculture, manufacturing and traditional heavy industries has continued to decline, the service sector and the creative industries have been undergoing dramatic increases. In addition, average salaries are dramatically higher in the creative sector than those in the service and manufacturing industries.

In an insightful article introducing 50 Great Ideas for the 21st Century, Stephen Bayley writes;

“The generation of ideas is now the most important economic objective. But unfortunately for conventional businesses, the people best able to generate them are unpredictable, quixotic and generally unsuited to a formal business environment.”

The context within which a creative economy exists is a complex one filled with ill-defined, non-absolute values. It is global by default, constantly changing and rich with risks and potential failures. In such a capricious world, one of the major tasks of local and national governments is to find ways of developing and stimulating the creative economy while maintaining an ‘arm’s length’ distance. It may not be easy, but it’s not impossible and unquestionably will rely on the talent and vision of creative management and business-oriented creative leaders.

The need is clear, the rewards substantial and the opportunities are boundless. Around the world, the annual increase of creative economic activity is consistently outstripping average GDP growth rates, in some cases by more than 250%. It’s clear that any post-industrial economy of the future needs to support a vibrant, dynamic culture of creativity. The question is: how?

For further reading, the discussion document Blueprint for a Creative Economy is available online.

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