Defining what is and isn’t part of the ‘creative industries’ has been vexing not a few people across the world at least since the UK’s DCMS came up with its list of thirteen in 1998. Today’s ACEI conference panel on the topic was no exception although renowned cultural economist David Throsby rightly pointed out the concept was well established by the time Ken Livingstone and the GLC set out to foster employment in the arts (search a library to see if you can find a copy of the 1985 report ‘ The State of the Art or the Art of the State‘).
The DCMS, by lumping in ‘software’ with broadcasting. film, music etc., has led a host of agencies and Government departments to count a new program to count the size of the national debt in with say, Grand Theft Auto. Unhelpfully this means that in some reports, rises or falls in software output as a whole mask what is happening in what we might consider to be the truly creative part of the software business. AH HA! I hear you object, what about the creativity in, well, pretty much every industry. Well coming to the rescue Prof Trosby has a handy ‘quick test’ to help distinguish creative industries from ‘industries-that-use-creativity’. It goes like this:
An industry is a creative industry if it involves: creativity + symbolic value + IP (intellectual property). Many industries (e.g. software as a whole) may use two of these i.e. creativity + IP but not exhibit the third – symbolic value. On this test Grand Theft Auto is in, SAGE Accounting is out.
Speaking of what’s ‘in’, ‘experience industries’, a term which has been around for a while, may have to give ground to the new kid on the block: ‘positive uncertainty’. Borrowing a term from counselling (I suspect by accident) in this context it means many (though not all) of the cultural experiences we seek place a positive value on uncertainty. Not knowing the outcome of a tense thriller (like a football match) is half the fun. This, of course, somewhat goes against orthodox ‘rational expectation’ economic theory which assumes the more information consumers have about a prospective product/service purchase the better. In reality of course we want both – we want to know in advance if its a good film, but we don’t want a ‘spoiler’ to undermine the discovery process if we go to see it.
Finally just when we thought it was safe to walk the streets without ‘complex derivatives’ bringing bankers to their knees, ‘option theory’ rears its head as a way of putting a value on uncertainty. Hey ho, I guess there are a few underemployed investment bankers who reckon they can short-sell films – oh wait a minute they already are (See April 23rd post)!
Have a good weekend.