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From Economy to Ecology: A Policy Framework for Creative Labour

May 26, 200826 May 2008

Cultural employment and training

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This report acknowledges that the creative economy is growing faster than most other sectors and, in Canada, accounts for a greater share of GDP than many primary resource sectors. Despite this, Canada, like many other countries, does not have a comprehensive policy framework for the creative economy.

The report provides a scan of 20 countries’ policies related to creative workers and artists, including education and training policies, awards and contests, business support and entrepreneurial development, as well as tax and social security policies. “Despite the general assumption that the knowledge economy will produce a labour force which resembles the cultural sector in its core characteristics, most countries have not yet introduced comprehensive creative labour policies to accommodate a more flexible, mobile workforce, and one which is increasingly self-employed.”

In Canada, the researchers argue for “an entire change of creativity governance, away from the attention on the individual to collective creativity and its interactions”. The report calls for a broader “creative ecology” policy framework. A better understanding of the creative process of invention and expression should include greater knowledge of “risk, innovation, cultural entrepreneurship, public infrastructure and creative work”.

Based on their research, the authors indicate that innovation could be enhanced by “a broader approach to ‘flexicurity’ – that is, social security for the self-employed, flexible labour force”. Governments should examine ways to improve social security for creative workers, whom the researchers call “the most important but frequently forgotten component of the creative economy”.

The researchers also indicate that current cultural statistics do not appropriately capture “the incredible diversity of employment situations specific to creative workers in the new economy”. Thus, the contribution of creative workers to the economy is seriously underestimated. They argue that “a creative labour force survey is urgently needed” to examine the complex reality of the creative labour force.

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