From creative gold dust to just dust

The new Commission, and Europe in general, must stop paying lip service to creation.

There are more and more reports that underline the social and economic contribution of cultural and creative sectors. Last month, another such study showed that the creative sector represents 6.8% of European GDP (€860b) and 6.5% of employment. We also hear of the “spill-over effects” of these sectors. Tourism to destinations made famous by films and books has been well known for some time. Films like Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 Space Odyssey probably inspired as many scientists, engineers and astronauts as it did film-makers. Creative works can teach us about our history and the world around us as well as an understanding of other languages and cultures. But despite these positive messages, the reality is that austerity driven European governments have cut back on spending on culture and continue to do so. The new Belgian government has just announced massive cuts in its cultural support. Just a few weeks ago the Rome Opera sacked its orchestra. Spain’s cultural economy, whose industry has been massacred by unlicensed exploitation of works online, has seen over €100m taken out of the creative economy through private copying reform alongside cuts for cultural venues and production support. Creativity should be the ultimate source of sustainable value creation. The wonder of creation is that it starts from the mind or minds of its creators. It creates value almost out of nothing. Creators should not be considered as disposable. They are not mines, that once exploited are left empty, on one side. Poor remuneration can only be counterbalanced by a love for their profession for so long. The sector has proved resilient during the crisis, but how long can that last?

Treated properly, creators are renewable sources of works and ideas but also inspiration for other creators and innovators. Europe needs to promote and invest in its creative sectors not cut them back.