Public Agenda & challenges
We believe that creativity and innovation have become the driving forces of our economy and society. In this globalised world our future lies in our capacity to create. Therefore, societies need to strengthen their creative capital. Creative capital can be defined as the combined assets of society that enable and stimulate its people and organisations to be innovative and creative. To achieve this, we need to apply a wide variety of strategies in different domains, varying from education and economic policy, through to urban and cultural policy. This agenda analyses the transformation we are currently experiencing, formulates new challenges and calls for action.
This agenda has been drawn up at the Amsterdam Creative Capital Conference on 17-18 March 2005. At this conference, innovation experts, economists, urbanists, social innovators, cultural entrepreneurs, policy makers and politicians assessed the state of the innovation debate and discussed possible actions concerning culture, innovation and the public domain within the knowledge economy. As a result of this conference, this Amsterdam Agenda for Creative Capital suggests what actions can be taken by those involved in building creative capital.
Innovation . A new playing field is emerging for innovation in the knowledge society, where economic, technological, social and cultural trends meet and interact. This shifting ground — a ‘transformation’ in the words of network society thinker Manuel Castells — makes us rethink social and cultural factors in relation to economic and technological developments. The rise of information and communication technologies has fundamentally changed the way we work and live. Innovation - defined as a permanent process of developing and applying new knowledge to work, life, products and services - has become the driving force in our society. This is becoming a more and more open process where citizens act as both users and producers, creating their own goods, services and environment. The challenge is to make sure this creative power is distributed throughout society. It prompts us to recast the public domain in relation to innovation in the knowledge economy.
Crossovers . New connections and linkages are the foundation of the knowledge society. Lines of development - in culture, the economy, knowledge institutions - no longer take place in separate realms but on new junctions and crossovers where swarms of people interact. Many of the successful innovations lie at these crossovers, where different domains, knowledge fields and institutions connect and interact. Crossovers thus become the key to innovation in the knowledge society. For public policy this implies that the core of our innovation strategy is located at places where such linkages can emerge. The policy challenge we are faced with, is to design the conditions and strategies that best allow such creative crossovers to develop. This applies both to both discovering (new) links between the domains of culture and economy, and for the development of the public domain.
Culture . Culture plays an increasingly important role in the knowledge economy. There is a growing awareness of the fact that until now the cultural factor has been insufficiently recognised in the public debate on innovation. Identity and meaning are beginning to be seen as key factors in adding value to products and services. Whilst this is most visible in the so-called creative industries, it is beginning to apply more widely to the entire economy. More broadly, culture — as a domain for expression, reflection and exchange — is becoming the key context from which social and economic developments derive their value. What is called for is a new agenda which recognises and emphasizes the interplay between culture, innovation and the public domain in the knowledge economy.
Public domain . The knowledge society cannot exist without a strong and creative public domain. This public domain has several qualities. Firstly, it is an environment open to new players and ideas which see diversity as crucial because it is the key to the emergence of new crossovers. Secondly, it is an environment which allows and stimulates entrepreneurship in the economic and social domain, since change is most often dependent on new initiatives and the people that develop them. Thirdly, it encourages people and organisations to make connections and alliances between different domains. Fourthly, it is organised in such a manner that people do not merely take from it, but are encouraged to contribute as well. In fact, a healthy public domain is organised like a 'commons': free for all, yet governed by certain rules that ensure sustainable freedom, in which citizens are both users and producers in economic, social and cultural terms . The key issue then becomes: how to design a public domain that stimulates openness, diversity, entrepreneurship, crossovers and a commons for all . Such a public domain is needed for both the physical and the digital contexts.
Creative cities . The knowledge society is an increasingly urban society. Our information age is dominated by cities and metropolitan regions to an extent that is unprecedented in human history. Cities are changing as globalisation trends interact with the intensifying use of (digital) media in social, economic and cultural life. In the knowledge economy, cities are competing on the international level to provide the best climate for innovation and creativity. It calls for new strategies for urban development with more attention given to the social and cultural resources of the city. The challenge for cities is to effectively use their resources in order to organise environments that harbour and breed creativity, and attract and enable the talent a city needs in order to be globally competitive and socially inclusive.
Creative Commons . Creativity always builds on the past. For successful innovation and a strong, creative public domain we need to design systems that enable people to share and re-use copyright protected works while offering flexible forms of protection for the authors. This is true for content, but also for software. Such a balance needs to be actively defended, to ensure an environment for successful innovation and a strong, creative public domain. Meanwhile, in a truly creative commons, public access of content and technology must become one of the core values of public policy makers and funding bodies who want to build the knowledge society of tomorrow.
Creative capital . Societies need to strengthen their creative capital in order to benefit fully from the knowledge economy. Creative capital is to be treated as the combined assets of society that enable and stimulate its people to be creative. Being creative is, in the first place, a continuous learning process, as gaining knowledge helps one to begin to realise new possibilities. But it also means the ability to explore new ideas and to create new connections and turn them into reality. The challenge is to build environments where people can develop their talents and apply them to work and life. This may require new approaches to the future design of the knowledge society and the role of public policy. It implies a wide array of strategies, varying from education and economic policy, from urban development to cultural policy, and from technology to intellectual property.
This analysis sets out a framework for the further development of creative capital. It poses the following challenges:
- There are always more gifted individuals outside your organisation than inside. Therefore, organisations, both private and public, need to develop models of open innovation. Through the use of new technologies such networks can be created more easily than ever before. However, success factors for people to work together effectively are shared identities, goals and values.These cultural factors need to be taken into account when developing new innovation models.
- Since consumers are becoming co-producers of their own goods, services and environments, they should be provided with open infrastructures for production. This is true for technology, software and content. Systems like Open Source and Creative Commons provide tools for creating such an infrastructure.
- We need to create open environments where crossovers between different people, organisations and networks can emerge. These environments are attractive to talent since they offer opportunities for talented individuals to realise their ambitions. Excellency is being rewarded in education, work and society at large. New players and ideas are becoming welcomed and interaction between different domains in economy and society is therefore stimulated.
- Production is essentially becoming less industrial and more creative. This means more people need creative skills. We need to find ways for people to develop these skills. It also gives new roles to artists and creative professionals. They are no longer the only creatives in society but also still function as pioneers. These are the creative entrepreneurs and promoters of change in economy and society.
- The creative industries provide potential for economic growth and prosperity. It is a growing sector that continues to provide more jobs and adds increasing value to products and services. This potential is not yet sufficiently recognised. We need to connect creative industries with other sectors in the economy in order to help creative entrepreneurs turn innovative ideas into profitable businesses.
- We have to broaden the concept of creative cities to the wider scope of urban society. A creative city is not just about building cultural areas and trendy offices for creative companies or attracting distinct, mostly higher educated classes within the city. A creative city provides all people with opportunities to create and realise their ambitions, dreams and potential. Therefore cities need to develop inclusive strategies for its present and future inhabitants.
So, how do we develop collective strategies for building creative capital? Societies need to recognise the importance and multidisciplinary character of creative capital when formulating these strategies. Actions that form essential elements of such strategies are:
- To stimulate open innovation companies, knowledge institutions and intermediary organisations need to share facilities. Examples of this strategy are the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven or the Media Guild in Amsterdam. Creating shared or public facilities is a key component of such strategies regardless of the type of cultural or economic activity. This is especially true for local governments when designing both physical environments as cultural and economic programmes. Such facilities can also host rapid prototyping of new concepts, products and services.
- Governments need to create open innovation models for p ublic systems such as education and health care. This starts by liberating institutions such as schools and hospitals from tight regulation that makes it impossible to innovate. People at the work level need to have more space to develop new ways of working. Bringing these innovators together is a second step in this process.
- We need to create open knowledge systems (like Wikipedia) and make them publicly available. Special interest needs to be given to groups in society (and on the international level people from less developed countries) who are not connected to these networks of knowledge.
- Governments should be leading by example and adopting open standards and protocols for their data-processing and -storage. They must require vendors to deliver solutions based on open standards.
- Producers of creative works – like artists, filmmakers, musicians and scientists - should be free to determine under which terms their work are made available. This includes retaining their full copyright as well as the use of Creative Commons Licenses.
- (Public) funding bodies in domains like arts, media and science need to explore how open access to works produced with their support can become a pre-requisite for funding.
- Publicly financed content, such as media productions and archives, should be actively made available to the public under a Creative Commons license. This enables people and non-profit institutions like schools to share and re-use creative work while protecting some of the rights of the authors involved.
- Societies need to be open for new immigrants since they are an important source of change and diversity within society. This is both true for people moving from villages to the city as for people coming from abroad.
- Talent needs be stimulated so that it strives for excellency. Present systems emphasize equality over excellency and therefore need to be changed. In education this could result in extra courses or opportunities at top institutes for talented students. In the world of work it can be realised through systems based upon merit instead of age or working years.
- When designing policy, governments should direct these policies to areas where crossovers can emerge: in education, research, the private sector or the public domain. This means investing in new programmes which facilitate alliances and links between sectors. Yet, this can not be done from the top down, but by providing an infrastructure where crossovers grow bottom up.
- We need to promote the learning of creative skills throughout society. Schools, citizen centres, public libraries, civil society groups, sport clubs or other associations all provide environments and tools for this process to be enabled. They need to define the creative skills which they see as important and design programmes to teach them.
- We need to develop new models for creative students, e.g. at art schools, to prepare them for the labour market. They need to learn how to achieve the right balance between artistic freedom and commercial production. Both are important for cultural innovation.
- Governments need to develop programmes that connect creativity and innovation in the knowledge economy. A good example is the British National Endowment for Science, Technology and Arts (Nesta). Such organisations can help with connecting culture and economy.
- Governments need to implement new policy instruments to support creative starters. Private investors still are hesitant to invest in creative start ups, mostly because they do not understand the value of the creative concepts, and fear a perceived lack of entrepreneurial skills and the consequent higher risks. We need to lower these barriers. Also local governments need to have a role in this process when promoting certain creative clusters.
- Companies, knowledge institutions and government need to work together to connect the creative industries with other sectors of the economy. Companies can establish crossovers through the establishment of networks, facilities and programmes. Knowledge institutions can support this by developing collaborative forms of education and research. Governments can help with campaigns that show the added value of the creative industries.
- Cities need to look at their own identity and strengths instead of copying generic images of what a creative city should be. Don’t turn the city into a museum, but make it a living entity. Policy should not be geared towards preservation only, but focussed on long term strategies for development in fields like infrastructure and cultural climate
- Project developers, housing corporations and local government need to rethink the relationship between culture and city development. The stepping stones in this process are: 1. Build a vision which encompasses the hardware (building, roads etc) and the software (people) of the city. 2. Create platforms for dialogue between different partners such as real estate developers, citizens, artists etcetera. 3. Design the cycles of the project. 4. Create an organisational structure which has diversity of ownership. Creatives and citizens should be included in all aspects of city planning.
- Local governments need to build creative labs which stimulate and facilitate crossovers between different domains: culture and economy, art and technology, science and society, and so on. These labs require support through physical spaces, programmes and networks. These creative labs are not only for creative professionals, but also for creative amateurs in every sector of society. They can be situated in art schools or public libraries, companies or citizen centres.