Distributive policy

“Creative Nation”, the political initiative that sparked the creative economy movement

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Credit for the political vision that sparked global interest in the creative economy as a development option rightly belongs to Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating (PM 1991-1996). It was Keating and his Labor government who first articulated the vision and saw the possibilities.

In October 1994, Prime Minister Keating released a federal policy document titled “Creative Nation: Commonwealth Cultural Policy”.

Creative Nation was the first time an Australian federal government had formally developed a cultural policy; Additional funding of 250 million Australian dollars has been pledged to cultural institutions.

The report emphasized the importance of culture for national identity and defined culture more broadly than previous conceptions by including cinema, radio, libraries, etc. He also highlighted the economic potential of cultural activity and the arts, stating that:

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“This cultural policy is also an economic policy. Culture creates wealth. In a broad sense, our cultural industries generate 13 billion Australian dollars a year. About 336,000 Australians are employed in culture-related industries. Culture adds value, it makes an essential contribution to innovation, marketing and design. It is a badge of our industry. The level of our creativity largely determines our ability to adapt to new economic imperatives. It is a valuable export in itself and an essential accompaniment to the export of other products. It attracts tourists and students. It is essential to our economic success.

Amended policy document Australia

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Creative Nation project in October 2014, Rebecca Hawkings from the Department of Modern History at Macquarie University wrote an article on the profound impact of Creative Nation on Australia. She described it as a document that changed Australia and Australians. His words are a fitting memorial to a most impressive document. I reproduce below substantial passages from his report:

“Today marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of Creative Nation. An ambitious and expansive project of Paul Keating’s Labor Government, this was the first Commonwealth cultural policy document in Australian history. Its initial impact was significant, with Keating committing an additional A$252 million over four years to the arts and cultural industries in Australia.

But Creative Nation’s legacy in Australian life since 1994 has been nothing short of profound.

Creative Nation has changed the way Australians see themselves and their place in the world. He defined “culture”, extending the concept beyond the limits of the artistic elite. In particular, the policy paper reframed cultural industries in economic terms. It changed the very language used to talk about Australia, its culture, its artistic expressions.

Creative Nation emerged at a time of broader reimaginings of what it meant to be Australian.

Six years before its publication, the 1988 Bicentenary sparked discussion in public and political life about the place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the narrative of Australia’s history. The dismantling of the White Australia policy in the mid-1970s and the emergence of multiculturalism also changed perceptions of Australian identity.

Creative Nation reflected these changes. The document’s opening preamble described Australian culture as “now an exotic hybrid”, and Creative Nation repeatedly referenced the importance of indigenous and migrant cultures in creating a national cultural identity….

Keating’s policy document sought to fund cultural projects that represented “the diversity of the nation.” Although subsequent federal governments pursued this mission to varying degrees, Creative Nation’s legacy was one of a changing narrative of Australian identity, which sought to include non-white Australians in the national project.

Creative Nation has defined “culture” as “what gives us a sense of ourselves”. This wide range encompassed not only traditional arts institutions (Opera Australia, the Australian Ballet and state and national symphony orchestras, to name a few), but also television and film, community festivals regional offices, radio, school curricula, libraries and information centres. Technology.

In a single policy document, Creative Nation placed new modes of cultural engagement alongside old forms of cultural expression, making them equally legitimate and also constituting “arts” in Australia…

Starting with Creative Nation, art was for everyone and cultural engagement was a national concern.

Culture and economy

More remarkably, Creative Nation was an economic policy.

It justified its existence in financial terms – the A$13 billion generated by the arts sector and the 336,000 jobs created by cultural industries were the main rationales for the document’s funding initiatives. Increases in arts spending were directed to projects and institutions from which a return on investment could be expected. Culture, Creative Nation noted, was “essential to our economic success.”

Cultural industries have been reframed in Creative Nation as a business venture. More simply “art for art’s sake”, Keating shifted the political debate on the funding of cultural industries to focus on cost-benefit analysis ideas and financial results…

Creative Nation created a narrative that stated that culture could – and should – be exported to the global market, and that the role of government was to protect and promote the work of Australian artists in this economic market….

As the Australian Commonwealth’s first cultural policy document, Creative Nation forever changed the way Australians perceived themselves. Culture was now an economic concern, the arts belonged to all Australians and the nation could no longer define its national identity so rigidly through its British colonial past.”

A model for other countries

It is a testament to the power of Keating’s political vision that Creative Nation has since become a model for other nations in mapping and developing their own creative economies.

In 1997, inspired mainly by the audacious precedent of Australia, the government of Tony Blair created in the United Kingdom its Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS). The term ‘creative industries’ gained prominence when UK policy makers established the Creative Industries Task Force and published the Creative Industries Mapping Papers in 1998 and 2001.

Based on its initial findings, the UK government said the creative industries contribute 8% of national income and employ 5% of the workforce. Since 1997, these industries have grown by up to 20% per year.

The Blair government has repositioned the UK economy as one driven by creativity and innovation in a globally competitive world.

Creative industries are described by the UK as “those which require creativity, skills and talent, with the potential to create intellectual property rights”.

In March 2000, the Heads of State and Government of the EU meeting in Lisbon agreed on the ambitious objective of making the EU “by 2010 the most competitive knowledge-based economy and the most dynamic in the world”. They called for a Creative Europe study and strategy to achieve the Lisbon goals.

This study resulted in a volume entitled “The Economy of Culture in Europe” which was published in October 2006. The study used the French approach through “cultural industries” instead of “creative industries” . He reported one by one on the cultural and creative sectors in the 27 EU countries,

Elsewhere, other countries were also restless, eager to kick-start the development of their own creative economies.

In the developing world, some have taken the initiative to study the creative economy, particularly in Asia and Africa. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has played a leading role in studying the creative economy and assessing its benefits for developing countries.

In the Asia-Pacific region, it was quickly recognized that creative industries were integral to the development of mature economies and the development of fast-growing economies.

Both developed and developing countries have formulated their economic strategies and policies based on creativity and creative enterprise as a strategy for economic growth and competitive advantage.

UNCTAD defines creative industries

During the 11th UNCTAD Ministerial Conference in 2004, the subject of creative industries was introduced into the economic and development agenda.

UNCTAD has classified the creative industries into four major groups: heritage, arts, media and functional creations. These groups were in turn divided into nine subgroups.

UNCTAD has proposed its own definition of creative industries, namely: “Creative industries are:

– Cycles of creation, production and distribution of goods and services that use creativity and intellectual capital as primary inputs;

– They constitute a set of knowledge-based activities, focused on the arts, but not limited to them, potentially generating income from trade and intellectual property rights;

– They include material products and immaterial intellectual or artistic services with creative content, economic value and market objectives;

– They are located at the crossroads of the crafts, services and industry sectors; and

– They constitute a dynamic new sector of world trade.

Based on the record, the Philippines has not been proactive or attentive as the world bustled to uplift the world’s creative economies. Successive administrations over the past three decades barely noticed what was happening on this highly competitive front.

Creative Philippines needs a visionary and a fanatic.


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