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London School of Economics: The Creative Economy: invention of a global orthodoxy

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The discourse of the creative economy is everywhere. First developed by the British New Labour government in the late 1990s, it has influenced a global way of thinking about the relations between culture and the economy. The lecture will address its rise and diffusion and the role of political entrepreneurship in the continuous reworking and dissemination of an orthodox mode of thought, illustrated by examples from the UK, EU and UN. What are the appeals of the creative economy? Why have counter-arguments been so ineffective? What are the consequences for how we understand cultural work?

The lecture is informed by Philip Schlesinger’s first-hand research into how cultural bodies work, published in two new co-authored books. Drawing on interviews with key players, The Rise and Fall of the UK Film Council analyses the shifting politics of support for the British film industry in a transnational market dominated by the US. Curators of Cultural Enterprise is an ethnographic analysis of a key cultural business support agency, that portrays how UK creative economy policy operates in devolved Scotland. Both studies raise questions about the rationality of public policy.

Angela McRobbie’s response will draw upon work related to her book Be Creative: Making a Living in the New Culture Industries which charts the ‘euphoric’ moment of the new creative economy, as it rose to prominence in the UK during the Blair years, and considers it from the perspective of contemporary experience of economic austerity and uncertainty about work and employment.

Philip Schlesinger (@PRSchlesinger1) is Professor in Cultural Policy in the Centre for Cultural Policy Research/CREATe at the University of Glasgow and Visiting Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE.

Angela McRobbie (@angelamcrobbie) is Professor of Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Jonothan Neelands is Professor of Creative Education at Warwick Business School and Research Project Director of the Creative Industries Federation.

Robin Mansell (@REMVAN) is Deputy Director and Provost and Professor of New Media and the Internet.