DeuS Policy Round Table

We are happy to present the outcomes of our first EU event. As part of BRIGHT, a 5-day online conference on creative industries, entrepreneurship and innovation organised by Creative Business Network, we held a vibrant policy round table with a representative from the European Commission and professionals from the creative and education sectors.

The online conference took place on 30 June 2020 and more than 50 participants joined our 4 panellists on Zoom: Barbara Stacher, Policy Officer at DG EAC; Rita Orlando, Architect and Project Manager at Matera-Basilicata 2019 Foundation; Silja Suntola, Development Manager at Xamk – South-East Finland University of Applied Sciences; and Paolo Montemurro, Director and Project Manager at Materahub.Here are the top five issues we discussed: How to approach the creative economy? How to approach open design in the context of the DeuS project? How to make sure that cultural and creative industries (CCIs) get the necessary skills development? How to adapt CCI business models after the Covid-19 crisis? How to design a bottom-up policy approach taking into account the specific needs of CCIs?

You can watch the full panel here on our Facebook page. We have of course also summed up the most important aspects for you right here:

  • We must overcome the separation between the arts, science and technology.
  • We must work both sides not only to reinforce the business skills of creative industries (not least their network skills) but also to make traditional industries more aware of the added value of arts and culture.
  • We must improve the education system to bring together people from different disciplines so that they can learn from each other while working together on concrete challenges.
  • We must strengthen our efforts to involve all relevant stakeholders more closely when designing policies.

How to approach the creative economy?

Defining the creative economy is a challenge, as EU Member States define cultural and creative industries in different ways. Nevertheless, in line with the approach adopted by the European Commission, we can regard them as ‘all sectors whose activities rely on arts and culture and embody cultural, artistic or other creative expressions.’[1] Barbara Stacher reminded everyone that the cultural and creative sectors include a wide range of economic sectors: architecture, archives, libraries and museums, artistic crafts, audio-visual (including film, television, video games and multimedia), tangible and intangible cultural heritage, design (including fashion design), festivals, music, literature, performing arts, books and publishing, radio, and visual arts.

Not only do CCIs have a high growth and innovation potential, but they also have the capacity to create spill-overs and add value to other economic sectors. According to Silja Suntola, the creative and creative industries can be referred to as ‘trailblazers’, as they are the place where new trends and things are born (for instance, new business models). Other economic sectors tend to follow them, more than the other way around. Perhaps, it is now time to break away from silo thinking and look at the role arts and culture should have in society through a multidisciplinary and holistic approach. Rita Orlando agreed that we need to overcome the separation between the arts, science and technology.

Even though the approach to the creative economy is not harmonised by EU Member States, there is an ongoing dialogue between national experts in the framework of the open method of coordination (OMC). Besides, the European Union is supporting several initiatives in favour of creative industries. For example, the creative hubs are cooperating in the European Creative Hubs Network, while STARTS supports collaborations between artists, scientists, engineers and researchers to develop more creative, inclusive, and sustainable technologies.

How to approach open design in the context of the DeuS project?

Rita Orlando introduced DeuS, one of the 5 vocational excellence projects financed by the Erasmus+ programme. DeuS has been shaped around the Open Design School of Matera, an open design laboratory which was pivotal to the successful implementation of Matera, European Capital of Culture 2019. DeuS brings together 10 partners from 9 European countries: Austria, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Slovakia and the United Kingdom. Based on the slogan ‘Learn, Design, Create’, the project aims to develop an innovative and sustainable training path in design, critical thinking and entrepreneurship by December 2021. The training methodology is designed for both students and teachers to facilitate professional skills development. Joint identification of key issues and challenges and co-creation of solutions are at the heart of the project. One of the challenges DeuS wants to overcome is the lack of recognition of CCIs by other economic sectors.

How to make sure that CCIs get the necessary skills development?

As Silja Suntola underlined, today most art education focuses on traditional art professions and mastering one’s own discipline. Little attention is paid towards applying creative competencies in innovative ways and new contexts. A lot of strategies have been set up to help the creative sector to become more entrepreneurial oriented. By and large, artists lack business and management skills, but there is also a need for mediators between the arts & business, as they live in different worlds and speak different languages.

On the one hand, since the creative industries are typically small or micro companies, it is crucial for them to network with each other: ‘When we talk about business models and skills, when we talk about the network economy, then we talk about network leadership.’ On the other hand, it is also up to the traditional industries to help creative industries come up with new business models – ‘bringing culture back to business.’

Paolo Montemurro agreed that we need to work more and more on both sides and the DeuS project is a very good example of that. ‘We need to have more creative people in traditional businesses. The other way around, we need to bring to the creative sector more of those skills that will allow them to become fully independent from any kind of public support.’

Rita Orlando stressed that it is not just about theory: ‘What I have learnt in the last 5 years in the framework of the Open Design School is that we need a proper education system that brings together people from different disciplines so that they can learn from each other while working together on concrete challenges. This way, you know immediately whether the business model will work or not, whether it needs some adjustments.’

How to adapt CCI business models after the Covid-19 crisis?

Barbara Stacher pointed out that people can see the different EU responses to the Covid-19 crisis on the Creatives Unite Platform. She also referred to a recent study on crowdfunding which shows that, more than funding, crowdfunding is about reaching out to a wider audience (46%), acquiring new skills (42%) and increasing community involvement (38%). There is also another study on the creative value chains which also examines how the competitive position of CCS is affected by digitisation.

In addition, Barbara Stacher underlined that the EU legal landscape related to the Digital Single Market is currently being modernised (e.g. copyright reform). The Commission will continue efforts to monitor and ensure a consistent application of newly adopted legislation, and to engage with stakeholders to discuss developments and the need for further action, including in the framework of the renewed strategy for a Europe fit for the digital age.

Silja Suntola highlighted that ‘our challenge is to make visible and understandable the role of the arts, the added value that creatives can bring to traditional businesses.’

How to design a bottom-up policy taking into account the needs of CCIs?

Paolo Montemurro reminded that 6 years ago, the European Commission put forward the concept of smart specialisation strategy: ‘a placed-based approach characterised by the identification of strategic areas for intervention based both on the analysis of the strengths and potential of the economy […] with wide stakeholder involvement.’ Although almost all regions integrated the cultural and creative industries into their smart specialisation strategy, it is still difficult to involve the relevant stakeholders into the design of policies for the cultural and creative sectors.

Paolo Montemurro elaborated on the necessary ingredients for a successful bottom-up co-creation process. First, ‘trust’: the trust which is missing on the side of the policymakers towards the creative sector. Second, ‘challenge’: it does not only refer the challenge that the sector is facing, but also to the challenge that policymakers must go through to disrupt the system when designing policies. Third, he mentioned good ‘awareness’ and ‘knowledge’ of the sector, then ‘innovation’ and ‘openness’ because the policies must be oriented towards the future and be open. The last ingredient is ‘care’ because we are designing the future of the economy and society.

Barbara Stacher emphasised that we are increasingly switching to an ecosystem approach to CCS, as recommended by the working group of Member States’ experts (see OMC report). The challenge is how to make this work in practice. In this relation, she named 3 initiatives funded by the Creative Europe programme: Culture for Cities and Regions, Cultural Heritage in Action, Cultural and Creative Spaces and Cities.

Paolo Montemurro concluded the session by adding that there is an interesting ongoing discussion that will probably call for a dedicated webinar on how to develop new indicators to measure what cultural and creative industries can do all round the society. We should also not forget the disruptive element, meaning the impact that cultural and creative industries can have on other sectors (cross-sector collaboration).

[1] See the definition provided in Article 2 of the Creative Europe programme Regulation or visit the Creatives Unite Platform.