A week ago I had the pleasure to visit a most interesting Exploratory Workshop on "Rethinking Added Value in the Creative Industries", convened by Christoph Weckerle of the Research Unit Creative Industries at the University of Art and Design Zurich (hgk Zurich, 29-31 May 2007). The event gathered together people interested in the creative industries but having diverse backgrounds and personal research agendas. The goal was to agree on some common ground definitions and future research objectives, which we could evetually take up in a research network funded by the European Science Foundation.
After some general examinations of the pertinent issues, it was clear that the wide variety of positions was rather difficult to reconcile, so we set more concrete tasks and worked on them in smaller gropus. With astonishingly promising results.
By the end of the first day, we could all agree on a list of topics that need to be taken up in order to properly assess the workings of the creative industries and how should they be efficiently and sustainably supported.
These topics were 6 and included in a random order (or the way I have them in my random notes):
(i) institutions, regulation and public policies (including culture and cultural diversity);
(ii) labour, individuals, skills;
(iii) organisation, firms, business models;
(iv) demand (broadly defined incl. users' reactions, user created content, etc.);
(vi) innovation, learning and technology.
/Brian Moeran convincingly and justly in my opinion insisted also on including 'values' as a cross-cutting category/.
On the second day, we (in 3 groups) elaborated the most important questions that one is to formulate within these 6 categories (quite extensive, so I won't put it up here).
It seems in the end that we were more successful than we were supposed to be at the level of an exploratory workshop. Perhaps that was thanks to the excellent organisation and atmosphere (working partly in the sun at the balcony of the hgk) provided by Christoph and his team.
For me as a lawyer, the workshop was a particularly fascinating experience to be surrounded by non-lawyers only :) and to test some of the set definitions legal scholars use in their strict legal analyses (or often poor attempts for interdisciplinarity). The notions of 'creative industries', 'cultural industries', 'culture', 'diversity', even 'law', had broader meanings in the workshop's discusssions, were less policy-laden but rather pragmatic in my view.
(Commodification of culture was certainly not a dirty word).