Knowledge and creativity are the new “oil” of the 21st century, and this opinion is increasingly recognized. New industries have been born revolving around these concepts, building what is known today as the creative economy. The development of the definition of the creative economy is still an ongoing process. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) sees the creative economy as knowledge-based economic activities upon which the ‘creative industries’ are based. Creative industries, according to the UN (2008), are the ones that require creativity and intellectual capital as primary inputs, including advertising, architecture, arts and crafts, design, fashion, film, video, photography, music, performing arts, publishing, research & development, software, computer games, electronic publishing, and TV/radio. This definition and the subsequent list may vary from country to country but it provides some relatively solid ground for further discussion.
The creative economy has come to light due to several major advantages, the main one being economic. Creative industries are generally associated with faster than average growth and the creation of new jobs (Daubaraite, Startiene, 2015). For instance, according to the UK government (2020), economic growth of the creative industries has increased at a rate of 7,4% per annum in 2018, which was five times the growth rate of the economy overall. Moreover, the creative industries are also usually defined by higher than average income, with 34,9% difference between wages in creative spheres and national average private-sector wages in the United States (Dolfman et al., 2007). According to Potts and Cunningham (2008), a similar situation was observed in Australia, where the average income of workers in the creative industries was 31% higher than the national average income. Another important factor is that the creative economy is relatively accessible to any community, as it does not require any particular natural resources, geographical position, or other external factors of competitive advantage. It only requires human knowledge and talent.
However, the development of the creative economy generates not only profit but some significant non-monetary value too. According to the UN report (2013), creative and cultural industries contribute heavily to the inclusive and sustainable development of communities by increasing overall well-being, individual self-esteem, and quality of life of people. Three main cultural domains of human development are recognized within the creative economy: cultural expression, cultural heritage, and urban planning and architecture.
Cultural expression within the creative economy implies the manifestation of cultural or creative concepts through artistic activities (dancing, singing, etc). The group nature of some of these practices creates a social value that includes increased social capital as people get to know each other better in the process, improved physical and mental well-being of participants, as well as emotional engagement of different groups of people. Another significant factor is that the development of cultural expression within the creative economy also contributes to the freedom of expression overall, providing people a platform to speak and to be heard, which is especially important for various underrepresented parts of societies. Therefore, cultural expression also reinforces the necessary inclusivity of a society.
The intangible cultural heritage, which is defined as practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills that communities recognize as part of their cultural heritage, is associated with such non-monetary values as community awareness and identity affirmation, concepts especially valuable for younger, developing nations and communities. The tangible cultural heritage, such as historical cultural artifacts, is already widely used as a tool of tourist attraction, however, it can also provide insights to the environment and circumstances within which it was originally developed, therefore contributing to the understanding of the importance of interdependence and conservation of local ecological networks.
Urban planning and architecture are closely tied to the creative economy, as the creative types of activities experience their most rapid expansion within developed urban areas. Cities then, in the framework of the creative economy, are not just the places to live or work but are also the tools of preservation of memory, conservation of artistic and architectural achievements. Creative industries help to shape the urban areas by principles of balance with nature, balance with tradition, appropriate technologies, conviviality, efficiency, human factor, an opportunity for personal and social development, regional integration, balanced transport systems and institutional integrity. Therefore, creative industries and cities are in a state of symbiotic relationship, positively influencing each other’s development.
Nowadays the creative economy is seen as one of the promising directions of growth and some of the most developed countries in the world make effort to expand and reinforce their creative sectors. However, due to the blurred definition and framework of the creative economy, the process of creating supportive policies is a complex and non-trivial one, lacking easy solutions and tools.
The uncertainty of the current policy and the relative novelty of the field imply that even the developed countries have less advantage in this area, leaving room for growth for developing nations. For instance, even though the UK is believed to be the global leader in the creative industries’ sector, the growth rate of exports of creative goods and services of developing countries exceeded those of the developed ones in the 2000s, as some of the Asian countries rapidly expanded in the new market (UN, 2008).
It can be seen that the topic of the creative economy is gradually entering the governmental agenda as well. The municipality of Almaty paid attention to the issue in 2019, adding the creative economy development as one of the strategic goals for the next 30 years, which aims to increase the share of creative enterprises to 12% within the city, effectively doubling it (SEC “Almaty”, 2019). Later a plan to build a park of creative industries was announced, and the creative industry committee was established. Currently, the committee is developing the comprehensive “Creative Almaty” strategy. These are the broadest plans presented by the government representative regarding the creative industries in Kazakhstan, though they still lack details. Another important project to mention is the Tselinny Center of Contemporary Culture (TSCC). TSCC is currently being implemented in Almaty and has a goal of getting its audience acquainted with local and international cultural processes in the reconstructed building of the former cinema (TSCC, 2020). It is evident that the topics of creativity and culture are expanding within the public agenda; however, the exact results of that discourse are still distant and vague.
Currently it is quite difficult to estimate precisely the effectiveness and sufficiency of such measures. The fact that the creative industry needs support is undeniable. The function of the state in the potential success of creative industries is crucial, as it has a significant role to play in all of the main factors related to the development of the field, such as the educational level, economic diversification, infrastructure, etc (Zhusupova, 2020). This is especially important during the ongoing crisis due to the pandemic, which has hit some of the creative industries. For instance, the cinemas were not able to reopen for more than half a year (Gorbunova, 2020).
Overall, it can be concluded that the creative economy is a promising and rapidly growing sector, offering economic, social, and societal benefits to those who recognize, research, and invest in it.
Gorbunova Arina (2020). RK cinemas have lost 20 billion tenge. When will they open?. Retrieved from https://forbes.kz//finances/markets/20_mlrd_tenge_poteryali_kinoteatryi_rk_kogda_oni_otkroyutsya/. Accessed on 19.10.2020.
Daubaraite Ugne, Grazina Startiene (2015). Creative industries impact the national economy concerning sub-sectors. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042815057626. Accessed on 20.10.2020.
Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (2020). UK’s Creative Industries contributes almost £13 million to the UK economy every hour. Retrieved from: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uks-creative-industries-contributes-almost-13-million-to-the-uk-economy-every-hour. Accessed on 19.10.2020.
Dolfman Michael, Holden Richard, Fortier Wasser (2007). The economic impact of the creative arts industries: New York and Los Angeles.
Retrieved from: https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2007/10/art3full.pdf. Accessed on 20.10.2020.
Pratt Andy, Simpson Yuan, Shayakhmet Dana (2018). Mapping of the creative industries in Kazakhstan. Retrieved from https://www.britishcouncil.kz/sites/default/files/bc_rus-compressed_0.pdf. Accessed on 19.10.2020.
Potts Jason, Cunningham Stuard (2008). Four Models of the Creative Industries. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227355977_Four_Models_of_the_Creative_Industries. Accessed on 18.10.2020.
Note: The views expressed in this blog are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the Institute’s editorial policy.
Nadirova Gulnar Ermuratovna graduated from the Oriental Faculty of Leningrad State University, in 1990 she defended her thesis on the Algerian literature at the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies, in 2006 doctoral thesis - on modern Tunisian literature at the Tashkent Institute of Oriental Studies, Professor.