The Creative Industries: Indispensable But Risky
About one million people work in the creative industries, in 244,000 large, medium-sized or very small businesses, or indeed as individual entrepreneurs. Their annual turnover is around 143 billion euros. In Germany, the creative industries have evolved over the past years to become one of the most dynamic branches of industry.
Andreas Krüger and Matthias Ahrens belong to the generation of new creative managers. They run the Planet Modulor project, an alliance of companies in the fields of art, craft and culture. In the Aufbau-Haus in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, they are grouped around the company Modulor Material Total. Germany’s biggest provider of model-making and architectural supplies and materials offers production and salesroom space to sewing studios, wallpaper designers, mosaic artists, furniture makers, photographers and sound technicians.
New approaches to work
What sort of people work in the creative industries? Authors, filmmakers, musicians, visual and performing artists, architects, designers and computer game developers – the majority work on a freelance basis or in small or very small businesses. They are not employed by the public sector (such as those in museums, theatres and orchestras), nor do they work in cultural foundations, but are gainfully employed. A committee of enquiry set up by the German parliament, or Bundestag, once identified eleven sub-markets, including music, film, architecture, design and software development.
Two thirds of the total turnover generated by the creative industries stem from the press segment, the software and games industry, the advertising sector and the design industry. As the committee notes in its report, it is noticeable that it is not the number of self-employed artists that has declined, but the number of small businesses: there are no longer any significant numbers of small music, book and press publishers, retail traders, film production and film distribution companies, advertising agencies and games developers on the market. This decline is offset by growing numbers of design firms, self-employed writers, stage artists, translators, interior designers and sound studios.
Supporting innovation processes
After all, the risks of failure are still very high. People who work in the creative industries are all too familiar with 16-hour days, a tendency towards self-exploitation and uncertainty about when the next job will arrive. “In some cases, the public perception is coloured by a handful of ‘stars’ in the creative scene with very high incomes. The reality, however, is often that fair pay and social security are an alien concept to many working in this industry”, writes the SPD parliamentary group in a petition to the German government aimed at “improving the economic and social standing of those working in the cultural and creative sectors“.
Artists and journalists under pressure
After all, the federal and state governments have realized that promoting culture and artists also stimulates the economy. It has long been recognized that the cultural scene of a region or municipality plays a key part in determining whether companies choose to settle there. Then there is the problem of tight public budgets – if a local authority has to decide between renovating a school or providing a financial subsidy to a local gallery, good advice is hard to come by. When culture and creativity are at stake, both are indispensable.
is a freelance journalist who runs an agency for text and design in Berlin (www.thomas-ppr.de).
Translation: Chris Cave
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Internet-Redaktion
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