Skip to main content

Film: Creative or Cultural?

Updated Monday, 11th December 2017
How does the UK view the importance of the creative and cultural impact of the creative industries, and which is more important?

A strip of sepia coloured undeveloped film is curled artistically against a white background. Official definitions and government policy interest in the “creative industries” such as film and music comes from the belief that the UK has a strong track record in areas where individual creativity is important , as such they have enjoyed high economic growth rates, and that this “creativity” can be applied to the rest of the economy. This perspective stems from the Cox report which proposed that: ….

The belief is that the most successful economies and societies of the twenty-first century will be creative ones. Creativity will make the difference – to businesses seeking a competitive edge, to societies looking for new ways to tackle issues and improve the quality of life …” I want all businesses to think creatively, to realise creativity is not an add-on but an essential ingredient for success”. (Chris Smith, Foreword, DCMS 2001, p. 3).  This definition of creative industries is based on creativity and intellectual property.

The dilemma is that, while the cultural industries can be defined as those that generate symbolic meaning, (as we have seen above), official definitions of the “creative industries” make no reference to symbolic meaning and could involve any type of creative activity.

Using this definition individual creativity could equally well include developing scientific innovations, but industries that develop these are not typically included in definitions of the creative sector. The difficulty in identifying specific types of “individual creativity” makes it very difficult to decide which industries are “creative”.

However this definition, will clearly causes considerable difficulties for the cultural sector, since there is nothing specifically “cultural” about the “creative industries” except that they both include the notion of creativity.  Most importantly, in defining creative industries on the basis of creativity and intellectual property, the UK approach also fails to consider the nature of cultural creativity and so also loses sight of the distinctive public good contribution of culture.

Importantly, the UK’s “knowledge economy” approach contrasts strongly with the definitions of cultural goods and services and of cultural industries proposed by UNESCO (2005). These combine the concepts of creativity and intellectual property with a strong emphasis on the importance of symbolic meaning, which means that they (cultural goods) “embody or convey cultural expressions, irrespective of the commercial value they may have” (UNESCO 2005, p. 5).

In conclusion the UK has a different focus on the creative and cultural industries than other nations.





Become an OU student

Ratings & Comments

Share this free course

Copyright information

Skip Rate and Review

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?