Review of the Role of Culture in Economic Growth

Review of the Role of Culture in Economic Growth
23-05-2012 A+ A-
The forum “RA?DO?ŠUMS? Culture after the Creative Industry” was held on May 22, gathering a wide number of interested people, and involving cultural policymakers, as well representatives of cultural institutions, creative industries, the Latvian Investment and Development Agency and the Ministry of Economic in debate. The forum focused on the concept of creative industries in an attempt to understand the link between cultural processes and industry.

Experts – John Holden, Peter Inkei, Rasa Šmite, Ieva Zemīte and Berk Vaher – were invited to speak at the event, and their performances were followed by solution workshops – group discussions moderated by Sarmīte Ēlerte, Zane Kreicberga and Ieva Ūbele. The forum concluded with a panel discussion by Māris Ēlerts (LIDA), Solvita Krese (The Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art), Diāna Čivle (Rīga2014), Klāvs Sedlenieks (Rīga Stradiņš University), Gatis Mūrnieks (McCann advertising agency), Sarmīte Ēlerte (adviser to the Prime Minister), Rasa Šmite (RIXC), and Dace Melbārde (State Agency of Intangible Cultural Heritage).

The view was expressed during the forum that in order for creative industries to develop, especially targeted funding support tools are necessary. Representatives of the Ministry of Economics uttered support for the development of creative industry funding instruments. To make this happen, the cultural sector must come to an internal agreement on the conditions for support.

The forum also focused on the terms culture, cultural industry and creative industry, since a common understanding of these definitions is a prerequisite for the creation of support tools. Each of the three categories requires a different approach, and it was also emphasised during the debates that small and fresh creative initiatives should not be left without support. Although they have not yet evolved to the level of industry and thus do not qualify for traditional funding, they are nevertheless extremely important for the sector as a whole.

Speeches by the forum’s guests as well as the following discussion also focused on a broader theme – the role of culture in society. The view was expressed that economic growth is driven not just by cultural products, but also the process of culture itself – for example, giving people a reason to put their talents into effect in Latvia and not elsewhere. Economic growth is also indirectly effected by the ability of culture to bring people together, prevent ethnic conflict, encourage cooperation, etc. It was repeatedly emphasized that understandings and arguments like these should be taken into account when analyzing culture as a contributor to economic growth, avoiding a focus only on the contribution to gross domestic product generated by the cultural industries.

Creative industries are an integral part of culture – they enrich the cultural environment and try to make a profit at the same time. As pointed out by British researcher John Holden, these two conditions coexist without contradiction in the creative industries.

It is necessary to make further use of the economic potential that lives in the creative and cultural industries. It is an important impetus for urban development, creating awareness as well as additional jobs, said the Head of Foundation Rīga 2014 Diana Čivle.

The creative industries are a part of culture that has profit potential, but it should be remembered that everything is based on an ongoing cultural process that involves both experimentation and intellectual reflection. Only the existence of a valuable cultural process can pave the way for clear directions for successful creative industry development, said Head of the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art, Solvita Krese.

The forum’s discussions and conclusions will be summarized in written form and made ​​public, calling for the conclusions to be taken into account both in the forthcoming “Creative Latvia” cultural policy guidelines and the forthcoming National Development Plan.

The forum was organized by the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art, Culturelab, Rīga 2014, the British Council, and supported by the Tobacco Factory, the State Culture Capital Foundation, the European Union Culture program, the magazine,,

Forum website


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