Spillover Effects of Creative Industries

Pia Areblad

I would try to give some reflection and definition of the creative industries. Actually, I think the word “creative industries” is quite complicated, because all humans are creative as human beings, that is a human capacity. So by saying creative industries, you’re saying that there’s only a part of industries that are creative, and all industries are creative in some way. This has been a way of defining industries that are, by my understanding, based on art and culture in some way. For me, creative industries are based on culture, on creativity. Usually I talk about the creative industries whose definitions are at the European level, and also of course at the Swedish level, is that they are driven by culture-based creativity—because there is creativity in all industries. That is important. If you don’t acknowledge that, it’s really complicated to start collaborating with other sectors in society.

The definition of the creative industries is that they will exist parallel with traditional industries, but to get a good and interesting society, with sustainable, inclusive, growth, it is very important to connect the competencies from the creative industries with the traditional industries. There is the bridging over there, there is a huge potential for development. That’s what I’ve seen in these 40 years working as a producer of artistic interventions. I’ve been to 3-400 meetings every year to discuss these areas.

When I look at the creative industries in Sweden, and try to compare them to the European level, there has been a very strong movement in Sweden concerning educating artists to become entrepreneurial, to become businessmen, to meet the needs of companies. There’s been a strong reaction in the artistic and the cultural field, that they do not want to become businessmen, they want to be artists in the first place.

I can follow that. I see, in the south of Europe, I see artists that are, in my experience, that are quite interested in engaging in different kinds of societal challenges, in company challenges. I see high-quality artists, high-level artists wanting to engage, even in the U.K. Sometimes, I feel that Swedish artists are more focused on wanting to stay in their gallery, or in their white box or in their black box, and if they don’t have enough jobs in this area, they could maybe do a job outside of this black box or white box.

For me, I look for artists that have very strong artistic integrity, that really want to contribute and see that their way of thinking and provoking is actually a source of development for themselves and for the company. That is a longing I have, to see where are these artists that have high-quality, strong artistic integrity, that really want to engage. I have seen that more outside of Sweden and Scandinavia than I’ve seen inside Scandinavia. That’s one kind of reflection about the role between Sweden and Europe.

When I see how the creative industries can interact in cities, nations, and in businesses, this is key because we know that to give a larger space for artistic thinking in city development, in national development, and also in business development, we will expand the comfort zone and give new possibilities to take new steps. I mean, we see how all the gentrification, how when artists come and live in an area and something happens. The ceiling on what kind of thinking, what kind of thoughts you can think, that really expands in a very exciting way. So this is something to expand, and I will work for that through all kinds of positions I’ll have in the future—both at a city level and at a national level.

In the business, after these 40 years, the 3 areas that are usually affected by these kinds of projects is of course the R&D, the research and development, the innovation of new projects, services, and processes, and the innovative capacity of the company—they are always affected by artistic interventions in organisations, both business and cities. The other part is the organisational culture: how do you communicate, how do you view the hierarchy in the organisation, how do you build trust? The third area that is affected by artistic interventions in organisations is the visibility and the marketing, and the branding. How do people outside view the city or the company, where the artists have a large role to play? Also, if the branding and the marketing is more grounded in the employees working in the organisation or the citizens living in the city, how can you carry the values and communicate with the customers or with the citizens in the city?

I have a very beautiful story about a company where the factory we worked with, they got so proud of having artists in the company. When they were having barbecues with the neighbours, they always talked about the company and the craziness, the braveness and courage of the company. You empower the employees and you give them good feelings and attitudes, I mean the competitiveness of today is not about making cars faster or more glass faster, it’s about thinking outside the box and using all the creativity among all employees in the organisation. That’s also why sometimes tricky to talk about the creative industries and traditional industries because we’re all creative when we are born, but some of us have been able to train more, developing creativity, and they’re usually artists.

The spillover effects, what art brings to other areas of society, are key for the next step in Europe, I think, and in my perspective, in my opinion, we have been focusing too much on entrepreneurship in the creative industries. I think we should focus more on bridging the gap between the creatives and other areas. We need a support function; it could be a producer or something else to support that, because we don’t want artists and everyone to do the same thing. I usually quote the Dean of Espoo University in Helsinki on this, because he says by putting the business school and the arts school on the same campus, they did not want to make everything brown, not everything the same colour, they wanted to make things bright—then you get a stronger, more interesting society. It’s not making businessmen into artists, or artists into businessmen, it’s about making some spillover for both sectors. I think that’s my reflection on that.

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Pia Areblad

Pia Areblad

TILLT in Goteborg, Sweden and Ale kommun in Sweden

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