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CREATIVE CLUSTERS 2006 (article first published : 2006-04-21)

Creative Clusters is an independent policy forum, fostering debate about creativity and the creative economy, about culture and commerce. It aims to contribute to policy development by examining initiatives and interventions supporting cultural enterprise, whether at local, regional, national and international level.

Creative Clusters 2006 will be held in NewcastleGateshead, UK from November 6 to 8, 2006. Host and principal sponsor is TyneWear Partnership.

The organisations invite proposals to present on the “Mainstreaming Creativity” theme at Creative Clusters 2006.

After only a few short years in the policy spotlight, the creative industries are no longer considered a marginal or specialist sector but are seen to impact on all areas of the economy. Around the world, from Brazil to Korea, New Zealand to Lithuania, and at the level of nations, regions, cities, towns and neighbourhoods, creative industries appear as key components in both cultural and economic development plans.

There are countless creative development projects in progress, there are rich currents of academic discourse, and there is a huge market of consultants and organisations with creative services and expertise on offer. Increasingly, the concept “creativity” is replacing “knowledge” as the pundit's defining characteristic for the modern economy.

In short, the creative industries are here to stay, and they are a major force in global economic and cultural development. But what does this really mean for creative industries and culture-led development?

As the creative industries collectively become major employers, exporters and sources of wealth, are they ready to take on the responsibilities of holding up the economy? It’s one thing for the creative industries to demand serious attention as economic players, and quite another for them actually to take on the role in society of the manufacturing, engineering and extraction industries it is claimed they are replacing. And is government really developing the policies to cope with these changes?

What is more, “creativity” is increasingly being seen as the strategy that all businesses must adopt to take on the challenges of globalisation. In the West this tends to mean deploying IP-related skills to take on low-cost competition from China and India.

In China, India and other developing countries, entrepreneurs see no reason why they should not use their creativity too, alongside lower costs and a wealth of cultural assets, to redress historic imbalances of power with the West. Disempowered minorities in the West see similar opportunities within their local cultures. But are globalisation and the opportunities of creativity really the zero-sum games that these positions imply?

And if creativity is a driving force in economic development, are the values hitherto championed by culture, or by commerce, driving change? Or is there another future, a third way, in which people, places and profit reach a new accommodation? What does the economy really look like when creativity is mainstreamed?

The Call for Presentations is open until midday GMT May 22. To find out more visit www.creativeclusters.com and click on Call for Presentations.




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