Defining and Valuing Dublin’s Creative Industries

Published in May 2010, Defining and Valuing Dublin’s Creative Industries forms part of the Think Dublin! research series that encourages ‘an evidence-based approach to developing policy in the city  while also highlighting the key role of Dublin in the national and international context’ (p.1). It’s authors are Dr. Declan Curran and Dr. Chris van Egeraat of the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis at NUI Maynooth. The research arises from the work of the Creative Dublin Alliance, a network of local government, universities, NGOs, private businesses and state economic development agencies.

The report examines ‘how we define and measure the creative industries as a sector’ and reflects upon the importance of global networking and connections for the creative business sector (p.3). It  finds that creative industries ‘tend to locate naturally around urban centres, specifically Dublin’ and concludes that ‘a policy priority must be to develop the communications and broadband infrastructure within the Dublin region  to surpass that of other global hubs of innovation such as Seoul in South Korea’ (p.3). The report also focuses on the need to provide a workforce with the necessary skills and competencies to fuel the sector, stating that new programme initiatives are needed that could extend ‘schools based innovation and creativity programmes and projects that promote creative thinking and problem solving in industry and community and support entrepreneurial thinking’ (p.4). It also calls for the development of ‘programmes in business that provide opportunities for the unemployed to be “placed” in a business in a creative capacity’ (p.4). Creativity should also be acknowledged with a Creative Achievement Award for the Dublin Region.

Although focusing largely on defining methods of measuring the contribution of the creative industries to the Greater Dublin Area, some statistics are given based on the Central Statistics Office’s POWCAR (Place of Work – Census of Anonymised Records) dataset that indicate the creative industries in the Greater Dublin Area employing just over 77,000 people or 59% of the national total (10% of regional employment) with
a gross value added (GVA) of Euro 3.25 billion (2006) (p.7).

The report acknowledges the limitations of an industrial classification-based methodology, based on production of a final good, for measuring the Creative Industries and points towards an alternative ‘occupation-based’ measurement (pp.7-8). This is seen as a move beyond measuring the creative industries to examining the ‘creative economy’ (p.8). this will need a more detailed gathering of statistics relating to average income for detailed occupation groups, although the CSO POWCAR dataset does offer great potential in the field of occupation-based study.

Citing Potts (2009) and Richard Florida (2002) as influential in the emergent idea of ‘creative industries’ (p.11), the report does, however, lament the multiple definitions and lack of consistent treatment on what is classified as creative activity. The report uses a range of methodologies and relies on a number of sources including the Arts Council’s figures for gross value added (GVA) generated by the Irish creative industry in 2006 (p.13). In order to move beyond examining just the creative industries and measuring instead ‘creative activity’ the report distinguishes between specialist creative workers within the creative industries and embedded creative workers within the broader economy.

The report identifies the Creative Industries Mapping Document of the UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), published in 1999 and further developed thereafter, as an established template for studying national, regional and city-level studies of the creative industries worldwide and quotes the DCMS’s (1998) definition of the creative industries as ‘those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property’ (p.14). DCMS (1998) is, however, seen as having limitations in being orientated towards the production of final goods. Potts (2008) is cited as arguing that ‘creative industries produce goods and services that are intermediary inputs into an economy-wide innovation process’ (p.15).

Other methodologies such as the ‘Creative Trident’ approach of NESTA (2008) is cited as recognising the three distinct employment situations (modes)of Pratt (2004): (i) Specialist mode – creative workers in defined creative industries; (ii) Support mode – non-creative workers in creative industries; and (iii) Embedded mode – creative workers in non-creative industries (p.22). The ‘Creative Trident’ methodology involves compiling a list of ‘creative core’ occupations and establishing to what extent these occupations are present in the creative industries and in the wider economy.

The report finally briefly outlines an alternative definition of creative industries, citing Potts et al. (2008), which proposes a definition of the creative industries in terms of ‘social network markets’ (p.25). This approach sees creative networks as part of ‘the innovation system of the entire economy, and whereby the adoption of novel ideas, and the value of those novel ideas, is determined by a social network of agents as they produce and consume these novelties’ (p.25).

In conclusion the report re-states the statistics for employment and GVA for the Greater Dublin Area mentioned above, acknowledges the limitations of an industrial classification-based approach and recommends approaching the CSO with a view to accessing a more detailed breakdown of National Employment Survey average income data. The recent release of CSO POWCAR dataset and Geodirectory is also seen as an opportunity to study the spatial concentration of Dublin’s creative industry and its sub-sectors.

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