Creative and Cultural Economy: Spatial Development Policies
School of Spatial Planning and Development of the Aristotle University
Regional Development Institute of Panteion University
Conference center of the AUTh
Thessaloniki (Greece), December 11-12, 2015



The paper aims at bringing to the foreground the debate on labor in the cultural and creative economy. Since the mid-nineties, the cultural shift in the theory on development and the political rhetoric about the knowledge and/or information society, cultivated the promise of a new world, where creative labor would be highly favored and supported. However, several analyses of the creative labor and its markets, show that social inequalities in the cultural and creative industries, persist as a systemic feature.

Considering the current economic recession, the paper focuses on the one hand, on the cultural and creative labor policy. On the other, it focuses on how cultural workers – and particularly young people – manage the contradictions they face, in an environment where the structural characteristics of artistic work have become widespread, leading to an ever-increasing vulnerability of work in general.

The national and European policy, at present does not seem to care about a serious discussion on uncertainty, precariousness and the features of creative labor that make artists or creative workers in general particularly vulnerable both socially and economically. Furthermore, although the specific nature of creative labor is known by dozens of analyses and a lot of research, the policy on culture does not take it into account, despite the reports and the opinions expressed by advisory bodies, such as the European Economic and Social Committee or the Committee on Culture and Education of the European Parliament. A second important thing ignored in the political plans for the place of culture in the new economy, is the set of general trends observed and their implications.

The failure to recognize the evident social disparities in creative labor, highlights the limitations of a policy for the creative economy, which focuses in a myopic way on developing exclusively the skills that will make artists and potential creative workers readily "employable". This weakness, however, entails a lack of initiatives to address the challenges in the creative industries. The peculiarities and specific features that distinguish the cultural and creative labor, are perhaps some of the most important challenges for the policy in these fields.

However, as the challenges are not addressed by political means, creativity is undermined after all because the internalization of asymmetries and social inequalities by creative workers, compromises their ability to reflect critically on reality and on their own position and roles therein. Finally, creative labor becomes a mechanism for social integration. At present, the dominant policy at European and national level, seems unwilling to face these challenges. Therefore, it is necessary the discussion on the cultural and creative labor to develop.