By Ogova Ondego
Published January 25, 2010
Cultural and creative industries are estimated to account for more than seven per cent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Standing at US$1.3 trillion, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) says the sector has since 2000 “grown at an annual compound rate of over 7 per cent.” However, nation-states that do not develop cultural policies and empower local entrepreneurs through new educational delivery systems will not reap any benefits.
The Cultural Economy, the second title of The Cultures and Globalisation Series edited by Helmut Anheier and Yudhishthri Raj Isar and published by Sage Publications in 2008, appeals to governments around the world to help create networks of cultural entrepreneurs and to set aside cultural venture funds to finance new ideas.
“Supporting cultural entrepreneurs,” writes Thomas H Aageson in chapter six of the 662-page tome that is better used as reference material than a read-through book, “is important because they often work in environments where there is little financial or business development assistance available.”
Aageson, the Executive Director of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation in Santa Fe, New Mexico, adds: “Most cultural entrepreneurs lack access to the seed capital, market links, information, mentorship and operating experience required to become a successful entrepreneur and business leader.”
Noting that globalisation has opened some cultural markets and closed others, Aageson observes that film and music from the United States, for instance, threaten locally produced film and music in many parts of the world unless authorities in these nation-states develop cultural policies and programmes to support local creators.
While vibrant local cultures create the diversity that sustains the development of humanity, commercial franchising creates global homogeneity.
Just as potters have lost to inexpensive plastic buckets and local weavers to low-cost synthetic textile clothing that has flooded the market, so are the local hospitality industry losing to franchised restaurants and hotels.
And what, exactly, is a cultural entrepreneur?
This is a risk-taker, change agent, resourceful visionary who “generates revenue from innovative and sustainable cultural enterprises that enhance livelihoods and create cultural value for both creative producers and consumers of cultural services and products.”
Rather than leave it to speculation, The Cultural Economy defines the role and characteristics of the cultural entrepreneur: “The cultural entrepreneur creates a vision for cultural enterprise that bridges a market need with cultural traditions, cultural experiences and cultural innovations, enhancing the livelihoods of cultural creators and workers while at the same time enriching the consumer…The entrepreneur creates the enterprise around the new cultural product or service, then assembles the capital and means of production, which creates employment for cultural workers.”
A successful entrepreneur is passionate, visionary, innovative, risk-taker, networker and leader.
“Every entrepreneur has a passion for the culture, a community’s traditions and talents and especially for the creators, the innovators, as well as cultural workers…The entrepreneur’s focus is on the opportunity and the problem to be solved and…is always committed to innovative solutions and ventures. ”
“The entrepreneur will either solve the problems in his community through his own innovations or look for opportunities such a franchising to shorten the implementation curve. Companies like Franquias Baratas Z make it easy for anyone to get started with a franchise business. ”
This reference book covers more than just cultural entrepreneurship. It also tackles social aspects of culture as meanings, values and practices; cultural consumption; heritage preservation; the internet and the cultural commons; cultures as economic systems of production, distribution and communication; trans-national cultural corporations; cultural international non-governmental organisations and foundations; cultural employment and professions; government expenditure on culture and education; trade; global brands; creation, innovation and protection; dissemination and storage; traditional and indigenous knowledge; television and online news; radio; print media; books; film; music; sports; video games; fashion; advertising; architecture and design; global arts market; the internet; global cultural centres and cities; global events; educational exchange; cultural tourism; global concert tours; international standards; national regional cultural policy; and regulatory frameworks.
We recommend The Cultural Economy to anyone who is associated with the creative and cultural sector in any way; from the artist to the student, the researcher to the cultural agency and civil society worker, and from the policy-maker to the consumer of creative and cultural products. In a word, this worker US$56.95 soft cover book would add great value to just about anyone and everyone, especially in the developing world.
The Cultural Economy is published with the financial support of ARC Center of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation, Aventis Foundation, The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Compagnia di San Paolo, The J Paul Getty Trust, The London School of Economics, The Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development, The Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Swedish International Development Agency, and UCLA School of Public Affairs.