Creativity is overrated or underestimated

Cultural education

Andreas Joh. Wiesand

To person

Prof. Dr. Andreas Joh. Wiesand, born 1945; was head of the Center for Cultural Research, Bonn, from 1972-2008, and now works as Executive Director of the European Institute for Comparative Cultural Research (ERICarts).

The cultural or creative sector in Germany includes all activities related to culture and media in the broadest sense. Private, public and informal offers with their different objectives, standards and problems should be viewed in a differentiated manner - also to protect a cultural public that has so far been diverse.

Art container (& copy Photocase / jotpunkt)

introduction

Cultural economy? No, "Creative Industries" is now the popular term - and in Central Europe it is already the subject of its own "Creative Industry Reports". [1] Why don't we stick with the still influential American guru Richard Florida, who effectively stages his economic theories on employment growth as the rise of a new, "creative class"? [2]


Have Florida and others perhaps even been inspired by the Yoruba god OGUN, whom the Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka highlighted as the guardian of creativity in his 1986 speech at the presentation of the Nobel Prize for Literature? In the interpretation of Soyinka, OGUN is, as we would say today, a kind of "manager of creativity" who connects the world of the ancestors with the worlds of the living and the unborn, constantly creating new interactions and realities - a role model for our current one Hunger for creativity.

A new "creative class"?

Florida's core argument is rather simple: since traditional branches of industry have been going downhill, the "creative economy" with a new class of employees is about to take their place. Florida defines this "creative class" (which it believes already accounts for 30 percent of the workforce in the US) as a broad spectrum of skilled occupations: from technical and natural sciences professionals to senior positions in the commercial and financial sectors to jobs in academia and public administration as well as in areas of justice and public security. Of course, there are also artists and other cultural professions in this selection - according to Florida the particularly important group of "bohemians"; they should give the cities and regions of the western world the necessary innovative kick in their economic competition. But is such a broad mix of professions meaningful at all?

Florida's concept, like other theories on economic development [3], contains statistical indicators. This has the advantage that the concept can be "tested" empirically, which has already happened in different regions. This shows:

Some of Florida's arguments are confirmed in a Dutch study [4], especially the thesis that stimulating economic growth is less about "which or how much education people bring with them, but rather where they actually work". Aside from Amsterdam, however, the Dutch researchers doubted that this growth "had anything to do with bohemian or other creative attitudes beyond social interaction". Instead, they emphasize a point that Richard Florida tends to neglect, but which was more in the foreground in earlier theories about "human capital": "Urban advantages - such as cultural offers, an aesthetically beautiful environment and, in Holland, especially the many historical buildings - make cities more attractive, especially for the 'creative class'. "

But there is also no lack of critical voices about Florida and its ideas. There was talk of overrated correlations, an improper definition of employment categories or the use of outdated figures from the times of the dotcom boom before its collapse. According to the economist Ann Daly, the problem with such generalizing theories is "that they offer a patent solution that fits everything, where there cannot be the only index, the only calculation, the silver bullet. Our world is too complex for that and its change too fast . " [5] Nonetheless, she admits that Florida's belief in creativity as the engine of economic growth has at least "broadened the basis for a serious public debate on cultural growth," which should include bettering research data on the creative sector into policy to translate. Structural issues are particularly important to Daly [6]: "We have only just begun to ask: What do artists need? The era of large company foundations is over; the future belongs to the networks. Subsidiaries are out, now it's about infrastructures."