The United Nations “Creative Economy” Report 2008

UN Creative Economy Report 2008

It’s so darn ironic that just yesterday, a visual designer friend of mine was complaining about how the U.S. government prefers to give the international students in the hard sciences discipline a total of 26 months OPT (Optional Practical Training). This is an incredible 17 month extension from the typical 12 month work opportunity given to graduating international students in areas such as the humanities and the arts.

That friend was just hired to work for Google.

From the academic circle of the tweeterverse (@ChristyDena), comes this particular U.N. report, which I believe is a first of its kind on a global scale, for anyone in government, creative businesses as well as peer-producers like ourselves (least if you’re reading this blog).

The United Nations has released a Creative Economy report for 2008. If you’re wondering what the creative economy is about, it refers to something I recall seeing Australian scholars (like Axel Brun) write about “creative industries” back in 2005. The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has programs focusing on the Creative Industries.

What is the creative economy?
The “creative economy” is an evolving concept based on creative assets potentially generating economic growth and development. The United Nations adopts the UNCTAD definition of the creative economy, where…

  • It can foster income-generation, job creation and export earnings while promoting social inclusion, cultural diversity and human development.
  • It embraces economic, cultural and social aspects interacting with technology, intellectual property and tourism objectives.
  • It is a set of knowledge-based economic activities with a development dimension and cross-cutting linkages at macro and micro levels to the overall economy.
  • It is a feasible development option calling for innovative, multidisciplinary policy responses and interministerial action.
  • At the heart of the creative economy are the creative industries.

What types of industries fall under the Creative Economy?
Wikipedia might also be a decent place to start, but it’d be better to compare this with the concepts and definitions as laid out in the U.N Report, which details various classifications systems used to define such creative industries. As seen in the U.N. Report, a widely quoted definition of the Creative Industry comes from the UK Government Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which points to “those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property.” (DCMS 2001, p. 04).

Types Of Creative Industries

While the other classification systems list more disciplines, the 2001 DCMS definition recognises eleven creative sectors, including Advertising, Architecture, Arts and Antique Markets, Crafts, Design, Designer Fashion, Film, Video and Photography, Software, Computer Games and Electronic Publishing, Music and the Visual and Performing Arts, Publishing, Television and Radio.

Given that responsible governments are constantly updating their media policies to encompass new modes of production (e.g. Proposal for Internet freedom in Singapore), perhaps cues could be taken from the United Nations. As highlighted in their foreword: “The creative economy has the potential to generate income and jobs while promoting social inclusion, cultural diversity and human development.”

Click here to download the entire United Nations Creative Economy Report 2008.

Update: Singapore isn’t behind either. According to the Rambling Librarian, the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA) has been at it for the past four years, taking elements from the U.K. initiative and adapting them for the Singapore context. MICA provides reasons for developing local creative industries and shares blueprints for the future creative industry landscape in Singapore.

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