Paper, presented at the III International Conference “Cultural Policy, Policy for Culture: the Role of Culture in Sustainable Development in Post-2015 Agenda”, within the framework of 70th Anniversary of UNESCO (11-13 July 2015, Yerevan, Armenia). The full results of the research and some of the examples are included in Lidia Varbanova’s new book International Entrepreneurs in the Arts: Innovative Strategies and Cases (to be published by Routledge in 2016).

 1. Cultural policy for cultural diversity

Since long time UNESCO is concerned about the role of policy-making for protection and promotion of cultural diversity. In the 1950-60s official documents relate to cultural policy as “art policy” – the responsibility of the governments for supporting arts and culture organizations, both directly and indirectly. In the 1970s onward, culture became linked with the notion of “development”. The 2001 Universal Declaration of Cultural Diversity represents cultural diversity as fundamental for humankind, linking it to ideas of democracy and human rights. The UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in 2005 recognizes:

  • the distinction between economic and cultural values, asserts that both are important, and sets out a series of measures which can be developed at national or international level;
  • the overall contribution of the cultural industries to economic and social development, particularly in developing countries;
  • the integration of culture into sustainable development strategies and national development policies; and
  • the international cooperation to facilitate the mobility of artists as well as the flow of cultural goods and services, especially those from the South.

Cultural policies for cultural diversity have two distinguished elements (See Fig.1):

  • Support of accessibility, participation, education, equality because of the “market failure” of the arts. From this angle, culture is mainly understood as artistic expressions and from institutional viewpoint relates to core artistic disciplines.
  • Support of creative industries, incl. broadcasting, film, publishing, new media, design, and others. The main focus here is on the chain “production-consumption” of cultural goods and services, and how to measure the economic and social values in each phase of the process.


2. Cultural industries: six key trends and policy directions

The term “cultural industries” traces its genealogy back to earlier work in the Frankfurt School (1930-1940s). In 1980s UNESCO included in this term forms of cultural production and consumption that have at their core symbolic or expressive elements. Creative industries were considered to cover wide range of fields, such as music, art, writing, fashion and design, and media industries, e.g. radio, publishing, film and television production. The most well known definition about creative industries is the one given by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, UK, in 1996: “The creative industries are those industries that have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent, and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property.[i]” This is a breakthrough definition as it emphasizes on the fact that arts and culture are not only subsidized areas, but they have a huge contribution to the economic development of a country. They comprise a large variety of creative fields, from more industrialized one such as advertising and marketing, broadcasting, film industries, Internet and mobile content industry, music industries, print and electronic publishing, and video and computer games to those that are traditional fields of arts, such as: painting, sculpture, theatre, opera and other performing arts, museums and library services. In according to different classifications , creative industries might include also: crafts, fashion, design industry, cultural tourism, architecture and even sport and recreation.

The newest definition of creative industries is given by the UK innovation charity NESTA in 2013: “Creative industries cover those sectors which specialize in the use of creative talent for commercial purposes” (source). This definition emphasizes that these industries are leaders and establish trends for creativity and innovation in the wider economy and they exclude cultural production of nonprofit and public sectors.

The beauty and uniqueness of creative industries are that:

  • They deal with ideas and are based on human creativity;
  • They are a combination of individual creativity and mass production of symbolic cultural goods;
  • They require an ability to think differently and outside of the box;
  • They are based on intellectual property;
  • Their branches are very closely connected with one another; and
  • They allow cultural diversity to flourish.


 3. Six key policy directions for support of creative industries

When elaborating policy directions for creative industries in the future, there is a need to consider two main trends in the external environment:

  • The key technological changes and main trends that will affect our societies in the next 10 years. Among them are: the internet of things – universal connectivity; the rise of ‘biological machines’; biometric security; alternative energy generators; materials getting smart; 3D printing; robotics; super sensors; augmented reality, and many others. How arts and culture field reflects on these technological advancements and uses them for increasing audiences and supporters is an important question.
  • The Generation Z, or the Millennials and their new way to connect, get information and accumulate knowledge. These young people are born with the new technologies and are surrounded by media and screens. They have a high tolerance for risk and uncertainty. Around 72% of them want to start their own business. They are highly collaborative and online platforms as well as the global connectivity is part of their daily life.

A recent online research outlines six key policy directions for support of creative industries that governments undertake. They are listed below, with examples from different countries on each one of them as an illustration. The full results of the research and some of these examples are included in Lidia Varbanova’s new book International Entrepreneurs in the Arts: Innovative Strategies and Cases (to be published by Routledge in 2016).

            3.1.Nurturing innovations in the Arts is an innovative project that aims to provide access to 3d digital archives of museum collections and to facilitate the distribution of 3d printed replicas and curated content of cultural artifacts for educational, research and entertainment use. The project is founded by Nikolaos Maniatis from Athens, Greece with the ambition to accelerate innovation in the field of cultural asset management. The project is one of the winning ideas of the Diversity European Idea Competition Awards in 2013.

           3.2. Supporting arts entrepreneurship

1. Raw Almond_Photo3Joe Kalturnyk is the founding director of RAW: Gallery of Architecture and Design, which is one of only two official galleries in Canada focused on contemporary architecture and design, featuring artists, architects and designers. He is also the initiator of RAW: Almond -the “Winnipeg’s winter fine dining experience” – a restaurant on the top of the ice on the Assiniboine River and The Forks in Winnipeg. The restaurant was conceptualized in 2011 and opened in 2013 as a result of Joe’s collaboration with Mandel Hitzer , the chef of deer + almond restaurant. The restaurant is a temporary venture lasting only for 3 weeks in the winter as the ice melts after, and the construction dissembles. The two ventures are tight together. RAW: Almond was born out of necessity – there was a very real practical reason to start it – there hasn’t been sufficient funding for the RAW: Gallery

3.3. Facilitating collaboration and strategic alliances

4. Nova Iskra_Marko Radenkovic_Photo1Nova Iskra was initiated by five cultural managers and producers from different fields – previously working for festivals, arts organizations, design agencies, events planning and children. The focus point that motivated them to start a business together was not just their love for the arts. Their goal was to synergize skills and knowledge to help in positioning the role and the recognition of artists in the society, to assist creative young people to find jobs and being valued for their creative skills. Nova Iskra started as a project – conceptualize in 2010 and officially opened in 2012. It has four main directions of development:

  • Network for design and creative professionals;
  • Co-working space for creative projects – pioneer on the Balkans;
  • Innovation platform, includes educational programs; and
  • Matchmaking agency: connecting creative businesses with creative young professionals.

Nova Iskra’s business model proves sustainability of the organization from external funding sources. At the same time, the organization works in line of its core values and mission. The structure is horizontal , flexible and organic – there is no one leader or manager who decides autocratically.

             3.4   Revitalizing the city through the arts

Krumbach is a town with about 12,500 residents in the district Günzburg in the Bavarian administrative region Swabia, Germany. The goal to put it on the touristic map stayed behind the project of the Associaton Kultur Krumbach to approach seven international architects with an unusual proposition: ”design a bus stop for us and we’ll give you a free vacation in Krumbach”. International architects from Japan, China, Norway, Spain, Chile, Belgium, Russia collaborated with over 200 local designers and craftsmen to design the bus stops in a very unique and artistic way.

Sderot is a town in Southern Israel with a population of 24 000. After Gaza war (Dec 2008-Jan 2009) 150 million was spent on the construction of bomb shelters. This is a problem in the city as shelters are a serious source of anxiety for locals. The problem was transformed into a creative solution. A city initiative in 2014 motivated artists to paint the shelters in colors and to make them “sympathetic-looking”. This project changed them into art pieces and a symbol of the city’s creativity as well as vulnerability.

3.5   Fostering other industries using arts and artists

10. Street captured_Ariel_Photo2_OKThe idea for Street Captured project came up in 2004 when the designer Ariel Zuckerman and his colleague and friend Eran Shumshovitz were sharing a studio at a street of Florentine, one of Tel Aviv’s most graffiti-flooded neighbourhoods where there are also furniture craftsmen. The area is very lively in the night. Ariel and Eran decided to combine the two worlds-the graffiti and furniture. They left blank wooden boards on walls and waited someone to paint it with graffiti. Slowly, in few days, or sometimes in a month, different artists were adding layers after layers to the boards. Once when the palettes looked satisfactory in terms of shapes, colors, images of graffiti on them, they were brought to the design studio and transformed into diverse furniture pieces: tables, dressers, night stands.

                3.6   Encouraging sustainability in the arts

18.Ocean Sole_Julie Chirch_Photo3The company Ocean Sole, initiated by Julie Church, is passionate about the ocean, its ecosystems and marine wildlife. The main aim is to recycle tons of abandoned flip-flops that are found littered on beaches and in waterways of Kenya. The flip-flops are transformed into handcrafted colorful products. In 2010 the company won the National Award for Kenya at the Energy Globe Awards, Rwanda, celebrating their work with sustainable development. In 2013 the Ocean Sole Foundation was created with the idea to support marine conservation and the encouragement of innovation, creativity and sustainable trade solutions.

4. Conclusion

There are two principle ways for support of creative industries and cultural entrepreneurship: direct and indirect. Direct methods include:

  • Operations and programs initiated and managed by a government authority;
  • Loans for elaboration of a business plan and for starting up an arts enterprise;
  • Incubators and accelerators for arts entrepreneurship;
  • Awards, prizes for leading innovators and arts entrepreneurs ;
  • Working spaces for entrepreneurial arts cooperatives.

Indirect government support covers the following main areas:

  • Specific legislative mechanisms for encouraging start-up companies in the arts, including tax incentives;
  • Encouraging networks and strategic alliances;
  • Encouraging applied research and development in the arts; and
  • Education and training in arts entrepreneurship.

The direct and indirect methods of support for cultural industries on national and international level requires the governments to work on assisting cultural organizations and arts entrepreneurs to build strategic alliances, to implement innovative tools, to explore alternative sources of financing and new business models, to initiate new dynamic forms of online collaboration, and to reflect on global issues such as: sustainability, global warming, climate change, world poverty, and others.


 The International Conference “Cultural Policy and Policy for Culture” held in Yerevan, Armenia 11-13 July 2015 was devoted to the 70th anniversary of establishment of UNESCO. Delegates from 45 countries took part in the conference – cultural ministers, deputy-ministers, heads of diplomatic missions and international organizations in Armenia, cultural managers, researchers and experts.


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