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The 5th European Creative Industries Summit 2016 was a show of force of the potential that the creative industry has for Europe. It was made clear that entrepreneurship was welcomed within the field and that such a fusion between the cultural and the industrial would lead to a boom in job creation, cultural development and digitalisation.
A mix of European Commissioners, MEPs, professors and established entrepreneurs discussed the wide ranging possibilities and issues pertaining to creative industry.
One may ask however what is meant by such a term? The definition that the Summit projected was not a unified one, and arguably should not have been so. Whilst the EU representatives embraced the more common image of creative industry as related to the arts, music, archives, architecture, fashion and culture, the entrepreneurs that were invited to talk had a broader conception of the term. Indeed, one the one hand, Pieter Aarts from Design and Management Network discussed the uses of design for marketing material as an expression of the creative industry. Geert Christiaansen from the well-known firm Philipps, in turn claimed that a new lighting app system could also be counted as a product of the creative industry.
Although the definition of this area is contentious and disjointed as was made apparent during the Summit, both parties agreed that Europe had a duty not to be complacent and to invest and support the development of creativity within entrepreneurship.
Martine Reicherts, Director-General of the DG Education and Culture pointed out one of the major flaws preventing a exponential growth within the creative industry. She held that the old and now outdated approach separating culture from industry remained prevalent within the EU institutions, and within the general public’s mentality. She stressed that this paradigm was in need of a shift and that doing so would enable would-be entrepreneurs to understand that profits and efficient business can be created and sustained when dealing with the cultural and the creative. The avant-gardiste role that creative entrepreneurs should play requires a support from both the institutions and by people willing to think out of the box.
Whilst the need to conduct efficient profit-making enterprises was more pronounced by some speakers, MEP Christian Ehler discussed whether it was not more important to cultural entrepreneurs to create for the sake of spontaneity, creativity and ideals. He called on the EU not to advocate a general idealistic ‘revolution’ but rather of approaching issues one step at a time, by for example, re-discussing the terms and conditions agreed with YouTube in order to promote young upcoming musicians who are unfavoured and underpaid by the social media giant. In a similar vein, Professor Dieter Gormy criticised the power of social media platforms, highlighting the discrimination smaller enterprises suffer and the limited revenue they make in comparison.
Whilst the second half of the panel, focusing on established enterprises failed to exemplify the trends discussed by the previous speakers, it was made clear that the creative industry is in need of a serious refocus and innovative push.
So, what should we make out of it? I would argue that this was a direct call to entrepreneurs across Europe to think again about how culture and industry work and to understand that the two areas are not so far apart. In today’s world, it is becoming increasingly obvious that different areas of expertise or fields of study are much more connected than what has been thought. Entrepreneurs have the task of bringing these two fields together and create jobs, new applications, projects and ideas that can both embrace the cultural and the creative as well as the industrious, the business and the profit-making and that such a fusion is not so contrary to belief, but a step forward.