Cherry principle

Bernd Fesel

Strategies for promoting the creative industries work on the basis of the cherry principle. A cherry has a stone and flesh. You need both, but the question is, which comes first? In my understanding, the cherry stone is the large public investment, like state television, museum or opera house. Once you have a strong public investment – like a cherry has a pit – you will have the flesh growing around it. You will have authors, free-lance professionals like writers, designers and journalists working around it. So for example, where you have strong television, you tend to have a solid literary scene, because they write for the television. You have to bear in mind, that if you have no cherry stone – no public investment - you cannot promote the cherry flesh. Sometimes it is right to invest heavily into public infrastructure, sometimes it is not necessary because it is already there, and sometimes it can be irrelevant because you need small investments into the creative industries. 

Take the example of Edinburgh. The city is famous for its literary festival, although they do not have big publishing companies. They invested into the cherry flesh by helping individual authors set up a big festival. They did not invest in the cherry stone that is, major publishing houses or television. 
In Zollverein, for example, we had the cherry stone from the very beginning, in the form of the German design museum. Most designers from the Ruhr region live in Dortmund but there is no cherry stone like Zollverein. This shows that both strategies work. The important thing is, that you as policy maker know what strategy to start with and what strategies you want to keep. Obviously, if you start with public investments – with the cherry stone, you need to stick with it for 4-5 years and invest a lot of money. If you decide for the cherry flesh strategy, you might see the results much sooner, but they might be less visible. People might be asking if there is something going on at all. It is important that for both strategies you understand, how your success will work. Sometimes success is easily visible with public investment, sometimes success is barely visible when you work from the bottom up.

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Bernd Fesel

Bernd Fesel

Founder of European Centre for Creative Economy

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