At a time when countries are striving to reach the Millennium Development Goals and the world is shaping a new post-2015 global development agenda, the United Nations system and its leaders are working to ensure that the importance of culture is reflected as both a driver and enabler of sustainable human development in future development goals and targets.
Culture is a driver of development, led by the growth of the creative economy in general and the cultural and creative industries in particular, recognized not only for their economic value but also increasingly for their role in producing new creative ideas or technologies, and their non-monetized social benefits.
Culture also enables development. It empowers people with capacities to take ownership of their own development processes. When a people-centred and place-based approach is integrated into development programmes and peace-building initiatives, when interventions in fields ranging from health to education, gender empowerment to youth engagement, take the cultural context into account, including diverse local values, conditions, resources, skills and limitations, transformative and sustainable change can occur.
In today’s knowledge-based economy, culture is currency.
Culture’s intrinsic and social values have long been recognized in many ways. However, in the last 30 years a new view of culture has arisen. It is increasingly seen as a driver of economic growth. A series of developments—among them the rise of the knowledge economy, in which skills and creativity count for more than raw materials; the growth of cultural and urban tourism; the emergence of the “creative industries” paradigm; the theories of Richard Florida, Charles Landry and others, with their emphasis on the role of culture in attracting businesses to countries and cities; and the contribution of the Guggenheim Museum to the regeneration of Bilbao in Spain—have led to a new focus on the value of culture within urban development. This view attributes a key role to culture in stimulating long-term economic and social growth in countries/cities—not so much through creating short-term economic returns (though these may occur), but by shaping a sense of place and social space that increases the city’s attractiveness to an educated workforce and the businesses which seek to employ them.
In the era of globalisation, world countries and cities are increasingly competing with each other for such things as the headquarters of multinational firms, or the right to host major international sporting and cultural events. Cultural prowess and economic success are increasingly seen as interlinked.
Firstly, the commercial forms of culture – the creative industries – make up a large and growing share of the economies of large cities. Given the challenges facing some other sectors of the economy, such as finance or public services, the creative industries represent a large source of employment, exports and tax revenue that needs to be better understood by policymakers in both the cultural and economic fields.
The second contribution of culture to urban economies is, if anything, more fundamental. Culture in all its diverse forms is central to what makes a country/city appealing to educated people and hence to the businesses which seek to employ them.
In the globalised knowledge economy, having a well-educated workforce is the key to success, and such workers demand stimulating, creative environments. It is clear from that most countries are well aware of culture’s role in making their cities attractive to ‘talent’. A rich and vibrant culture thus also becomes an indirect source of economic success. This is recognised by cities in emerging economies (WCCF)
All around the world, the ‘creative economy’ is talked about as an important and growing part of the global economy. Governments and creative sectors across the world are increasingly recognizing its importance as a generator of jobs, wealth and cultural engagement, creating destination value, unlocking individual potential and providing an alternative economy to the traditional carbon economy.
The global creative economy is worth $3,665 billion which is over five per cent of the total global economy’s gross output of $71 trillion.
There are a number of opportunities that the creative industries offer emerging economies to participate in high growth areas of the international economy. Culture-based creativity is an essential feature of a post industrial economy.
With its strategic associations across the world, SYNERGY contributes to the creative industries in Asian and MENA countries through its operations in cultural and creative industries. In the coming years, creative industries will be playing a significant role in global economy, creating value for countries and cities beyond natural resources, giving value to human potential and talent.
The creative economy has become a powerful transformative force in the world today. Its potential for development is vast and waiting to be unlocked. It is one of the most rapidly growing sectors of the world economy. A much greater proportion of the world’s intellectual and creative resources is now being invested in the culture-based industries, whose largely intangible outputs are as “real” and considerable as those of other industries. Human creativity and innovation, at both the individual and group level, are the key drivers of these industries, and have become the true wealth of nations in the 21st century.
Unlocking the potential of the creative economy therefore involves promoting the overall creativity of societies, affirming the distinctive identity of the places where it flourishes and clusters, improving the quality of life where it exists, enhancing local image and prestige and strengthening the resources for imagining a diverse future. In other words, the creative economy is the fount, metaphorically speaking, of a new “economy of creativity”, whose benefits go far beyond the economic realm alone.
Culture and creative industries is fast emerging as an organic and sustainable growth model.