Culture is future »

12.08.2014

Op-ed : "We have a dynamic solution to the crisis" by Laure Kaltenbach and Olivier Le Guay

Culture and creation are part of the solution to the economic crisis in Europe: here are the conclusions of two reports released this week, Creative – Innovate – Grow by the ECIA and The European cultural and creative sectors factor of growth by the GESAC/EY. But, according to the authors, we must also develop the strategy and the means.

Op-ed previously published in french on the Huffingtonpost.fr

For those who still have doubts about the cultural GDP: the figures are more and more obstinate and convincing. With €536 billion of revenue, being 4,2% of the EU GDP (according the last estimation of the GESAC/EY study) being compared to the € 558 billion of added value, representing 4,4% of the GDP (or even to the €860 billion and 6,8% of the GDP if we include peripheral activities) as mentioned by the Tera Consultants report in the beginning of October. The positive impact of cultural and creative sectors is not a secondary phenomenon anymore. We will let the experts compare their own perimeters (with or without advertising or architecture for example) and this is useful.

Those works make the essential notion of ‘creative industry’ that this sector represents move forward: this is incidentally one of the ten strategic recommendations  of the European Creative Industries Alliance (ECIA), shared by Marc Lhermitte and Bruno Perrin, EY partners, who reaffirm in the preamble of the GESAC study that “a methodological challenge still has to be taken up to measure the economic importance of cultural and creative sectors and insist on the urgent need to consolidate and standardize more the statistical analyze at the European level”. Great news: the collection and analysis work on Eurostat data, stopped (the last available statistics date back to 2011) is rekindled!

Beyond the cultural GDP, the sector guarantees an employment basin (growing) which is for the most non-delocalizable. “With 7,1 million jobs, including 19,1% occupied by people aged under 30, cultural and creation are among the main European employers just after the hotel-restaurant field, the GESAC report underlines. These industries thus represent 2,5 times more employment than the automotive industry, the sole visual art sector employs more than the telecoms sector”. Even if comparing does not prove anything, it must be recalled that the cultural and creative sectors are not commodities like any other. For any European citizen interested in these issues, the GESAC/EY report analyzes in depth the impact of 11 cultural sectors completely “rooted at the heart of digital technologies” according to Jean-Noël Tronc, President of the Sacem and Vice-president of the GESAC, while 70% of the average time spent by European people on a tablet is dedicated to the consumption of a cultural good. This is not about opposing digital technologies and culture anymore, but about integrating the promises of the hashtag generation, analyzed by Bain & Company.

So let stop the “European innovation bashing”. Old Europe still has jewels: seven out of the ten biggest global editors, five out of the ten biggest festivals, global leader in the musical sector, two out of the three main advertising societies… and numerous world champions: Egmont, Grupo Planeta, La Scala, RTL Group, Nordisk Film, Deezer, Rovio Entertainment, Dorotheum, the BBC World Service, Publicis or Sweco… “These successes are representative of their sectors, lying on the dynamism and richness of European creation, which is the real guarantee of cultural diversity” the GESAC insists.

Culture as a hope for Europe is the most shared conviction. But there also needs to develop a strategy, this art of coordinating actions. The proposals are built around three axes: sectorial hybridization, access to financing (thanks to guarantee mechanisms in particular) and technology (thanks to an efficient protection and an open-minded perspective on possible hybridizations) and, finally, the reinforcement of the match between the copyright and the digital environment to make creation viable and distribute it. Challenges are huge but the civilizational stakes are equal: “European competences are limited but the Union must take up the challenge alongside the member-states, Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, recalls in his op-ed on the GESAC/EY study… Only then will it be possible to defend our cultural richness. Because it is not about blindly defending our heritage from any foreign influence, but about defending and promoting it so as it can spread out of our frontiers”.

In a word, and this is the Forum d’Avignon’s belief, the intellectual works and cultural productions that enthrall us should not be discounted as a simple content.