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Cultural Policy in the Time of the Creative Industries

By Hasan Bakhshi and Stuart Cunningham, NESTA, United Kingdom, 2016, 13 pages

In their provocative paper Cultural Policy in the Time of the Creative Industries, Hasan Bakhshi and Stuart Cunningham argue that the time has come for the UK government to classify and publish statistics on the cultural sector alongside its existing highly regarded Creative Industries Economic Estimates. Looking back at the past 20 years, they believe that the introduction of an explicit definition of the creative industries in 1998 and their systematic measurement since 2002 with no equivalent effort for cultural industries, has contributed to a conflation of creative industries and cultural policy in the UK.

The key arguments of this paper are as follow:

  • The government should publish official statistics which allow both cultural and creative activity to be taken full account of, acknowledging both the substantial overlap between the two areas of activity, as well as dealing as best as possible with the challenges that tend to underestimate the extent of cultural activity, for example the importance of voluntary labour;
  • As well as improving the evidence base for policy, the publication of cultural statistics will bring to greater prominence such matters as the scope of the cultural sector as recognized by government; who cultural policy is being made for, and who is making it; what counts as cultural participation, and the importance of cultural economy vs. cultural industries;
  • By clarifying the distinctions between culture and creative industries, the DCMS will open the way for more effective cultural and economy policy (the latter being what creative industries policy will properly be seen to be).

The publication is available online at www.nesta.org.uk/sites/default/files/cultural_policy_in_the_time_of_the_creative_industries_.pdf