The Finnish way of supporting Creative Industries
- Artistic skills and outputs need to be implemented, applied and distributed just as the skills and outputs from any other fields. Technology provides incredible, new forms for this to be realized, and management and business skills enable economic feasibility for these endeavors. To mention just a few areas the creative industries themselves can benefit from immensely. So yes, I think a horizontal approach to studying the creative economy potential is key, says Silja Suntola, Project Director of Creative Industries Finland (CIF), a national network for creative economy development coordinated by the Aalto University, School of Business in Helsinki.
In November 2012 will KreaNord and CKO publish the Nordic Policy Analysis 2012 which will provide an overview of key initiatives, experiences and policy making within the Creative Industries. In the coming months we bring you interviews with some of the most important policymakers within the creative industries in the Nordic countries.
What have been the biggest challenges in working within the creative industries?
- I suppose it’s related in different ways to the fact that most creative industries are quite small (as are home markets in many cases), and even making a living is a challenge for many. In many cases production costs are quite high, and success is often difficult, if not impossible, to predict (or measure for that matter). This is a challenge for realizing the growth potential in many sectors, which in turn would be important in strengthening the creative industries in whole. In addition to this, many actors in the creative sectors do not necessarily identify themselves as being part of the creative sector. It is a heterogenous mix of quite different industries and people, and even just finding a common language and definitions can prove a challenge.
What do you think traditional business can learn from the creative industries - and vice versa?
- Some concrete tools I could mention are for instance different art- and design based approaches in product- and service development processes. In many cases it is bringing the human factor into the equation, like understanding user-experiences, behaviours and communicating these between different stake-holders. Visualization, multi-sensory and bodily communications, “people-skills” are just a few examples these. Not to mention what we could learn about organizational management and leadership for any company or public sector organization…
- At the same time, the huge advances made in science and technology provide unforeseen opportunities for developing different sectors of society. I think when sketching and designing what we could and should do with these opportunities – the arts and culture inherently come into the picture, whether we realize it or not. And I don’t mean just mastering creative processes so that we can innovate new products or services (not to belittle their potential role in the picture). But I mean addressing questions about our basic assumptions, issues concerning values, ethics, identities and communal issues, sustainable development etc. I believe these are becoming more important, value-based factors for sustainable competitiveness and a well-being society anyway.
What is the finnish way of supporting the Creative Industries?
- Perhaps one special feature to creative industries and economy development in Finland worth mentioning is the utilization European Structural Funds, especially in regards to skills and knowledge development. For instance the around 15 million euro development program that Creative Industries Finland coordinates provides financing for around 20 projects from different sectors of the creative industries. These range from developing business, management, marketing and production skills to advancing cultural exports, developing networks and furthering production and innovation activities.
- Creative industries projects are also financed through other ESF –programs, even though they might not be specifically geared just for creative industries development. It looks promising that the creative industries and economy will also be quite well noted in the new ESR program period 2014-2020.
How do you see the development and the future of creative industries in the Nordic countries?
- There have been lots of positive development and initiatives that make it clear that the potential role of the creative industries has been recognized on many levels, but much still remains to be done. There is still much ignorance to the actual role and nature of creative skills, services or products that many sectors of society could benefit from. I think it is important to get to concrete actions and more real-life success stories that will further this understanding among the wider audience. Also, systems change slowly, and there are still many bottlenecks in our funding and support mechanisms that would allow for better addressing the creative industries actors.
If you could change or affect one thing in the creative industries in the Nordic countries, what would it be?
- I hope that the role of arts and culture will be understood way beyond a quick fix and boost for the next quarterly report, or providing some next, new pretty thing or experience for our past-time. I think we have many shared values in the Nordic countries, that could well be assets in exploring the role and potential of the creative industries and economy in designing a creative, sustainable society even on a global level. And with that in mind, we should look way beyond the Nordic market and the western countries in general. I think there is much unidentified potential for instance to what comes to the role of arts and cultural industries in the developing countries.
- Of course I want to believe that what we do at Creative Industries Finland can in a positive way further and enrich this discussion, and hope to see the Nordic initiatives still strengthen and get more concrete forms of co-operation on these different levels. I think it is key that we keep the conversation going, keep in mind the “bigger picture”, have courage to look beyond our own organizational and national boundaries and act on it. Yes, of course these aims can be realized – it is up to us to do it!