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The International Forum on the Creative Economy

Compendium of Research Papers

May 24, 200924 May 2009

Culture and the Creative Economy

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The International Forum on the Creative Economy, a two-day forum in Gatineau, Quebec in March 2008, provides “evidence on the current and future economic forces and trends impacting the innovation, creative, and knowledge-based economies”. Presentations at the Forum delved into various facets of the creative economy in many countries around the globe, not just Canada.

A Compendium of Research Papers presents the detailed findings from the Forum, while “e-Proceedings” provide the conference sessions in media formats (available at The Compendium includes 29 workshop research papers and a report on the economic impacts of the cultural sector (see our review of “Valuing Culture” in Arts Research Monitor vol. 7 no. 5)

Research themes include valuing culture, the geography of culture, innovation and collaboration, drivers of and transitions in the creative economy, intellectual property, copyright, cultural consumption, and film production practices.

A number of research papers examine the nature of the creative economy in Canada, including reports on artist careers in Montreal, diversity and economic development, as well as the situation of artists in the creative economy. The report on artists in the creative economy proposes “livelihood systems models” as a valuable tool in helping to establish “an evidence base for understanding the economic and social contributions and challenges of artists’ working lives”. As an example, the paper argues that “communities and organizations that are struggling to find ways to create an enabling environment for artistic practice and creative lives can work with artists themselves as partners, to generate the kind of evidence-based data on which good policy and effective plans and programs are made”.

The paper on diversity and economic development examines the economic roles of knowledge, innovation, social interaction, and “places as learning opportunities”. Using statistical models, the paper finds that “there is a stronger relationship between local diversity and local economic structure than between local diversity and overall local economic performance”. The paper stresses the importance of taking local conditions into account when pursuing creative city economic development.

The exploratory research on artist careers in Montreal finds that the city is attractive to artists for its relatively low rents and possibilities for experimentation. On the other hand, during interviews conducted for the project, many interviewees indicated that Montreal “is lacking in institutions, structures and networks for pursuing a true artistic career, without having to perform other jobs in order to survive”.

An interesting research paper from Australia examines the work of creative professionals throughout the economy, not just in creative industries. The paper examines three elements of the creative workforce: “specialist mode”, i.e., those in creative occupations working in the creative industries; “support mode”, i.e., those outside of creative occupations but working in the creative industries; and “embedded mode”, i.e., those in creative occupations outside of the creative industries. In Australia, the growth rate of “embedded” creative workers has been much higher since 2001 than other types of workers.

Resources from the United Kingdom include a detailed benchmarking of London’s cultural and creative industries as well as a paper on “the creative suburb”. The paper on London argues that the creative sector accounts for about “one in eight London jobs and a sixth of its output”, that “the creative sector was a driver of growth” in London, and that creative industries are “exceptionally concentrated in London”. An interesting note in the study indicates that “business expenditure on creative products had, by 2004, exceeded spending on business and financial services”. The report on culture in suburban areas indicates that “there is evidence of a shift in employment toward more suburban and small town locations, though not to truly rural ones”. The paper argues that these changes “are not being fully recognized in current policy debates”.

With 29 research papers, the Compendium contains many more resources than can be highlighted in this brief summary of findings.

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