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friday :: december 8, 2006
"creative clusters" and real estate market boom

Emerging out of Blair's Britain in the late 90s as an antidote to post-industrial unemployment, early creative industries discourse was notable for a promotional hype characteristic of the dot.com era in the US. Over the past 3-5 years creative industries has undergone a process of internationalisation and become a permanent fixture in the short-term interests that define government policy packages across the world. At the policy level, creative industries have managed to transcend the North-South divide that preoccupied research on the information economies and communication technologies for two decades. Today, one finds countries as diverse as Austria, Brazil, Singapore and New Zealand eagerly promoting the promise of exceptional economic growth rates of "culture" in its "immaterial" form. Governments in Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, and the Netherlands have initiated creative industries policy platforms with remarkably similar assumptions and expectations given their very different cultural and political environments.

Despite the proliferation of the creative industries model, it remains hard to point to stories of actual "creative innovation", or to be even sure what this might mean. What is clear – if largely unacknowledged – is that investment in "creative clusters" effectively functions to encourage a corresponding boom in adjacent real estate markets. Here lies perhaps the core truth of the creative industries: the creative industries are a service industry, one in which state investment in "high culture" shifts to a form of welfarism for property developers. This smoke and mirrors trick is cleverly performed through a language of populist democracy that appeals to a range of political and business agents. What is more surprising is the extent to which this hype is seemingly embraced by those most vulnerable: namely, the content producers (designers, software inventors, artists, filmmakers, etc.) of creative information (brands, patents, copyrights).

Much research in the creative industries is highly speculative, interpretive and economistic, concerned with large-scale industry data rather than the network of formal and informal relations that make possible creative production. It is also usually produced quickly, with little detailed qualitative analysis of the structure of economic relationships creative industries firms operate in. In many cases, the policy discourses travel and are taken up without critical appraisal of distinctly local conditions.

In contrast to the homogeneity of creative industries at the policy level, there is much localised variation to be found in terms of the material factors that shape the development of creative industries projects. For example, a recent UNCTAD (2004) policy report on creative industries and development makes note of the “‘precarious”’ nature of employment for many within the creative industries. Such attention to the uneven and variable empirics of creative industries marks a departure from much of the hype that characterised earlier creative industries discourse, and also reflects the spread of this discourse out of highly developed market economies to ones where the private sector has a very different role.

This conference wishes to bring these trends and tendencies into critical question. It seeks to address the local, intra-regional and trans-national variations that constitute international creative industries as an uneven field of actors, interests and conditions. The conference explores a range of key topics that, in the majority of cases, remain invisible to both academic research and policy-making in the creative industries.

Overall, the conference adopts a comparative focus in order to illuminate the variability of international creative industries. Such an approach enables new questions to be asked about the mutually constitutive tensions between the forces, practices, histories and policies that define creative production, distribution and organisation within an era of information economies and network cultures. >from * MyCreativity: Convention on International Creative Industries Research* Amsterdam, November, 16-18 , 2006.

related context
nau21, towards a new public domain. creative spaces + production spaces + social spaces. "a citizen, collaborative and independent grassroot project that conforms a structure of creative nodes (individual or collective) that puts in network to be able to give a service to the creators (in sciences, arts and technologies) of the city."
> immaterial civil war by matteo pasquinelli. prototypes of conflict within cognitive capitalism. barcelona, september 26, 2006
> net community hacks cultural funding system. "our much-discussed, game-theory-oriented approach to cultural funding represents a clear rejection of all the austrian cultural industry's hegemonic tendencies." may 5, 2006
> creative capital: culture, innovation and the public domain. "what is the cultural dimension of the knowledge economy? And what does this imply for the public domain?" august 19, 2005
> urban art and the public sphere. "visquem can ricart!" july 15, 2005.
> can ricart + parc central, urban space of 21th century. june 10, 2005
> parccentralpark. "an emerging urban kitchen." can ricart area, 2004
> fused space: new technology in/as public space. "definitions= public space : the physical collective space that is freely accessible to everyone. virtual public space : the space created by the internet and other kinds of technological networks like sms, and mobile phones accessible to everyone. public domain : both the physical and the virtual public space; the commonly shared space of ideas and memories and the physical manifestations that they embody." july 23, 2004
> public domain of communication. "the cultural, political and legal frame is a space that we call public domain of communication. as a public domain we understand a sphere which does not belong neither to the state nor to the market, but to the whole society, and it is managed and controlled by the society itself (not to be misunderstood with the public service performed by the state)." april 23, 2003
> science commons, building a free flow of knowledge.. "the free flow of knowledge can be found in the internet. a new model for scientific production, publishing and access emerge in the new environment of the networked society. but the shared on-line environment, "like our physical environment, constitutes a global commons, with similar imperatives for stewardship and preservation." and, in this terrain, the choice we face, and science in particular, is not between progress and the status quo, it is between progress and a new dark ages. Information should be kept free." march 15, 2002

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