Creative Economies


3rd Creative Economies Report Switzerland 2018

Context and Looking Back at the 2nd Report This is the 3rd Creative Economies Report Switzerland to be published by the CreativeEconomies research venture (Department of Cultural Analysis, Zurich University of the Arts). We see this biennial publication as an opportunity to take stock of different discussion threads and research fields and to make these accessible to a wider circle of interested parties outside the international research community. These include representatives of various political fields, associations and actors in the creative industries.

By way of a reminder: Published in 2016, the 2nd Swiss Creative Industries Report was subtitled “From the Creative Industry to the Creative Economies.” It presented a concept that no longer structured the creative industry along various submarkets such as the design industry, the software and games industry or the art market, but instead focused on the interrelations between a “creative core,” an “extended sphere” and a “collocated sphere.”

Our model marked a response to a malaise in the discussions on the creative industries. In times of a “mainstreamed” concept of creativity, an approach based on the dichotomy “creative versus non-creative” increasingly treads water. In response to whether an industry is creative, there is only one answer today: yes, of course! Any industry unable to claim this is not believed to have sustainable products and services. The discussion on the creative industries has become superfluous at the latest when every industry is compelled to define itself as “creative.” Instead of external attributions and international conventions, our approach to the creative economies concentrates on attitudes and strategies: Which processes and practices are crucial for organisations or actors to position themselves in the “creative core”? Our observations — which have attracted various reactions — suggest that projections into the future play a major role in the “creative core,” i.e., a practice of asking how things or states could be. We therefore speak of a “what-if mode.”

We also pointed out in the second report that an isolated focus on the “creative core” is inappropriate. Further, we emphasised the central importance of exchanges and interactions between this core area and diverse framework conditions (“collocated sphere”), for instance, in terms of infrastructure, financing mechanisms, political conditions or demand structures.

The focus and title of this 3rd report are: “Entrepreneurial Strategies for a ‘Positive Economy’.” Thus, it not only continues the line sketched so far, in terms of methodology and presentation, but also follows the call to move from an omnipresent and universalistic concept of creativity to a more precise examination of the most diverse value creation constellations. Consequently, the topic of values or evaluation is clarified by explicitly addressing the associated evaluation mechanisms and its always also political components.

3rd Report: Focus and Insights

This core theme is examined by means of different approaches. In his study “‘Positive Economy’ — Towards New Business Models for Artists,” (p. 7) Frédéric Martel summarises an extensive series of interviews he conducted at various locations around the world, and evaluates these with a view to different dimensions of value creation. His analysis focuses on the question of how actors in the creative economies — whether individuals or small and medium-sized organisations — can develop sustainable business models under the conditions of digitisation. It is revealing that one of his central terms goes back to the French poet Arthur Rimbaud. As early as the 19th century, Rimbaud had demanded a “positive economy” for himself, thus anticipating key dimensions of this third report: Developing strategies for the creative economies always means reflecting on suitable framework conditions that enable value creation beyond the individual case. Accordingly, Martel’s analyses and suggested options for action refer both to actors themselves and to the surrounding systems. Associated therewith is a new understanding of governance. The quantitative section of the present report include Roman Page’s statistical analyses and enables comparison with the figures presented in 2016 and thus, for the first time for Switzerland, to also comment on development trends. Page achieves this through adducing official statistics in terms of the established continental European discussion (p. 47). His chapter thus makes an important contribution to Switzerland’s ability to connect with the international debate. At the same time, it is oriented towards an Anglo-Saxon approach, which considers the field not from an industry perspective but from an occupational perspective (p. 79) and thus provides further insights. These additional approaches reveal in which direction statistical data analyses in the area of the creative economies are developing in order to capture the most diverse dimensions of value creation. We do justice to the need for topicality by regularly updating statistical analyses at www.creativeeconomies. com and proposing new, more experimental statistics approaches to selected topics.

Roman Page’s quantitative analysis and Frédéric Martel’s qualitative analysis (based on qualitative interviews) are two very different perspectives from which we look at the creative economies: On the one hand are official data, gathered according to international standards, which enable comparability and time series. At the same time, the analytical grid is relatively coarse and poorly suited to certain small-scale structures of the creative economies; moreover, such data are always available at the earliest with a delay of one year. Conversely, a journalistic approach and a qualitative series of interviews are suited to questioning this compartmentalisation and its specific approaches in greater detail, “in real time” so to speak, not only nationally, but also from an integrated international perspective. While this approach readily opens up new perspectives, it does not, as qualitative research, pretend to be representative or generalisable: Rather, it presents another side of the picture. As a third approach, which adds a complementary perspective, Fabienne Schmuki presents a selection of quotations (p. 52) from professional associations, trade media and the daily press. This collated material reveals the public perception of the current debates and the agendasetting of diverse interest groups.

Finally, Simon Grand and Christoph Weckerle attempt to synthesise and reflect on the contents (p. 85) of the 3rd report on a more general level. They identify two black boxes and four research questions, which deserve further exploration. They seek to illustrate its findings with selected references and formulate prospects for the future research agenda of the CreativeEconomies research venture. They show that organisations in the creative economies are successful when content initiatives and structural development engage in ongoing and constructive exchange. For the expert organisations of the creative economies, linear approaches, in terms of the principle “structure follows strategy,” are just as unsuitable as the one-sided primacy of content, which reduces questions of entrepreneurship to the dimension of self-management.

Value creation and Entrepreneurial Strategiesas promising reference points

The debate that we aim to initiate with the 3rd report for the context of the creative economies revolves around value creation, a central narrative of the creative industries. It assumes that multiple forms of value creation emerge at the interface of business and creativity. The so-called “creative economies” are described as a field in which two otherwise separate worlds come together: economy / entrepreneurship +art / creativity = value creation.

As indicated, such a simplified formula is problematic because the question of who or what is creative must be discussed anew in every context and cannot be delegated to selected industries. We have also suggested that neither “art” nor “the economy” can be negotiated in the singular. On the contrary: different strategic motives and business models need to be distinguished. It is barely surprising if the outcome arising from such an interface of creativity and economy is not really sustainable.

The pair of terms “value creation” must also be further explored in various respects. Thus, the term “value” is understood too one-dimensionally, either in an economic sense (as money), or in a moral one, as what has value and therefore deserves protection (against economic influence). In short: these two approaches neutralise each other. “Creation” is usually described in terms of innovation or creativity. One explanatory approach that on the one hand is based on the current hype surrounding these terms, and on the other hand amounts to an unproductive circular conclusion: the combination of creativity and economy leads to (even more) creativity.

This report on the creative economies therefore aims to understand the manifold connections between input and output as value-creating processes. While we understand by input a multitude of resources — advice, money, infrastructure, etc. — the dimension of output is concerned with the question which values ought to be created in or by the creative economies — be they economic, cultural, scientific, social or political. Closely linked to this is the question for whom these values are relevant and how the effect of such values is discussed and assessed. It goes without saying that the most diverse criteria in terms of success, effectiveness, meaningfulness or sustainability need to be examined more closely. It will also have to be borne in mind that the valuation mechanisms for a field that is less concerned with how things are than with how things might be are complex. It is therefore necessary to deal intensively with questions of evaluation and with different dimensions of values.

The above-mentioned aspects always also raise the question from which perspective the topic should be illuminated — from a governance perspective, which takes into account the most diverse framework conditions, or rather from an actor perspective, which makes far more specific distinctions. Between these poles stands a multitude of possible entrepreneurial strategies.

Not taking value creation for granted, but seeing it as a link between input and output seems to us to be an important step towards a new discussion of the concept. This will, however, only become truly substantial if the different strategic dimensions between a governance perspective and an actor perspective are accounted for.

Reflections on the notion of research

The structure of this report reflects a basic principle of the research concept of the CreativeEconomies research venture: a multi-dimensional approach to the complex field of the creative economies. Our curatorial approach brings together various authors and positions and attempts to classify and comment on the results of this exchange. It is precisely in this complexity and through collaborating with alternating actors that we see a key opportunity for analysing the heterogeneity of the creative economies and to open up this dimension for debates in science, art, education or management. This multi-dimensionality will never amount to a one-dimensional picture. Rather, it is a matter of addressing the inherent heterogeneity of perspectives and approaches. While this picture is becoming more complex, it is also opening up opportunities for more in-depth analysis of the field.

Even more than the second report, the third one combines macro-approaches and micro-analyses. The permanent interplay between zooming-in and zooming-out is another central research principle of the CreativeEconomies research venture. It enables one to verify general observations on a specific case with a view to establishing new points of reference in the multifaceted environment of the creative economies. Vice versa, it enables one to consider the individual case within a larger context. Similarly, we regard the combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches as partly complementary, partly contradictory perspectives on the creative economies in all their dynamics.

It is not simply a matter of juxtaposing different approaches, but of bringing them into constructive exchange. This leads to another principle of our understanding of research. For researchers, engaging with one another in terms of content and method means leaving their “safe haven.” It implies that established research traditions and more experimental approaches are given equal importance.

Such exchange requires a common language in two senses: first, relations must be established between different disciplines and forms of knowledge, e.g., in the form of mappings; this may also serve as a viable starting point for the above-mentioned experimental approaches from a global perspective. Second, our research venture is concerned on a conceptual level with developing a new language for discussing the creative economies. Too often, ex negativo and dualistic arguments are used in this field. Yet neither a “nontechnological” concept of innovation nor a “non-monetary” understanding of value creation is able to understand the complex, multi-layered references and practices in a differentiated way.

In sum, the approaches presented here — the interplay between macro and micro, qualitative and quantitative, established and experimental, the curated exchange between constantly different actors, the development of mappings and models — aim to initiate debates, to raise questions, to continue offering new methods of analysis and to open up possible perspectives. At the same time, this research approach always depends on a counterpart who takes up and continues weaving the thread. Our interlocutors need to identify those answers that are relevant to them and to develop entrepreneurial strategies, promotion models, training formats … for themselves.