a note on the British origins of CI
Creative Industries from Gold to Lead: A Review of Robert Hewison?s ?Cultural Capital?
1. Where have all the Critics gone?
Since their inception in the late 1990s by Tony Blair?s New Labour government, creative industries
policies have spread throughout the continent. The creative industries approach is increasingly
becoming a mainstream tool for policy makers at all levels, from the funding schemes of the European Union
and the various national agendas, down to the administrative capillaries of regional and local policy.
One might think that the process of establishing the creative industries as a policy field would have been
accompanied by a critical and constructive discussion about the approaches, instruments, and indeed,
the general direction creative industries were taking over the course of the past fifteen years. If it is
true, as the pundits don?t tire to tell us, that creative industries policies are
a reflection of massive social, economic and cultural transformations, then surely no one expects policy
makers, pioneers and first-movers to get everything right the first time around. New policie
s, after all, need rigorous critique in order to improve. Success or failure of the creative
transformation of our economies and societies depend for a large part on learning from one?s mistakes. So
far, however, this is hardly happening.
True, over the past few years, we have seen are a number of publications that critically engage with the rise
of ?creativity? to the centre stage of policy making. Books such as Gerald Raunig?s Critique of
Creativity, Andreas Reckwitz?s Erfindung der Kreativit?t, or the INC?s own MyCreativity Reader made
valuable contributions challenging the cynical vacuity the discourse on creativity and its industry
increasingly acquired. However, while these and similar publications often put forward important
arguments against political and economic functionalizations of art and culture, they tended to remain
at a level of theoretical abstraction that was incompatible with the discourses happening around the
realpolitik of the creative industries. The Brits themselves proved to be active commentators
on their own policy invention as well. James Heartfield?s early Creative Gap, Guardian economists Larry
Elliot and Dan Atkinson?s entertaining polemic Fantasy Island and Owen Hatherley?s Guide to th
e New Ruins of Great Britain are examples for a very critical engagement with different aspects of creative
industries policy. And one should not, of course, forget geographer renegade Jamie Peck?s tireless
attacks on Richard Florida and the urban policies his theses instigated.