Get your voice heard in the EU!

I did a session for the Creative Clusters Summer School last week – the brief was ‘Meeting the Needs of Creative Entrepreneurs’. When I did something similar last year, I just got on to my usual soapbox about the creative sector not being just another sector and that, if Govts were serious about supporting it, they had to understand better the difference, the ecology, the different ways or working, metrics for success etc. I – and others – have been saying this for so long now that we do it more to warn the new entrepreneurs of what they are coming into rather than in any hope that Govt is listening! However, that might be about to change. So, to the absolutely unadulterated horror of my audience, I told them I was going to take them through an EU Green Paper……

Shamelessly exploiting a god-given facility for energising people, so I hope it wasn’t quite as ghastly as it originally sounded, I took them through a filleted version of the Green Paper, with the express intention of getting them to write in – even if they wrote in as a group from the Summer School, which I think would have been a useful contribution actually! But, in reality, I don’t suppose any of them did do it – and I regret that. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, we really are on a potential point of change – and, in a way, if the change doesn’t come, it’ll be because we haven’t taken advantage of this opportunity and exploited it hugely for the benefit of the sector.

(That use of the verb ‘exploit’ is interesting – I wrote it instinctively but actually it’s a word we use a lot these days and it’s changing its pejorative connotations – in CIDA now, and with clients, we talk all the time about creativity being the generation of new ideas and innovation as being the exploitation of those ideas – however, I digress……)

This Green Paper ( has been compiled by the DG Culture and Education but is being carefully watched by the DG Enterprise and Industry (DG E&I). It is the latter who have recently announced the European Creative Industries Alliance, ECIA – (oh god, these acronyms, but I can’t keep typing out the whole thing!) – and this is the thing that offers us the best chance of getting changes in the way we work and the way we are supported by government funders everywhere. The game’s not won by any means, but at least we are now all moving towards the same pitch (Keith Evans, you should be proud of me!) –

I’m going to put up my PowerPoint presentation on Slideshare, so if anyone wants to read an edited version of the paper, with all the questions that they ask you to think about particularly, you can do it here – together with the address to write to! I really think it is worth the effort –

They are picking up a lot of the right things – supporting the capacity to experiment, innovate and succeed as entrepreneurs; providing easier access to finance and the right mix of skills; making it easier to work internationally through increased networking and exchanges; and optimising the potential impact creative industries can have on other sectors and communities – so it’s pretty positive and should help people working across the breadth of the sector, but it would help if we all wrote in about the other stuff – the fact that we are a sector hugely characterised by sole traders and micro businesses and that isn’t because we are stupid but because we choose to stay small; growth has to be interpreted differently, horizontally rather than vertically, to use the jargon, and some economists are going to have to do some work to make it happen! Numbers of full time employees is not a metric of success that we recognise – nor that of duration of the business: the project-oriented way we have of working means that necessarily companies come and go, while we move on to the next thing. That’s not failure, it’s the way we work. And of course a big one – how can we improve the way we make money from ‘knowledge transfer’? (actually, Bernd Fesel of ECCE and Ruhr 2010 and I are moving in on that one, hopefully with a few other economists and researchers, in the autumn – so if you want to join us, get in touch!) –

So lot’s to do – lots to write to them about! – why not start now!