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"Art is a language."

Q&A with Lidia Goldenstein

“And as such it has to be learned. It’s a form of culture, of looking at the world, and it has been used more and more as an important investment tool.”

Where did the Creative Economy Dialogues idea come from and what were the objectives?

The idea arose during a meeting promoted by the British Council with several American countries in Medellín, to which I’ve been invited to participate. It was very clear that the British Council had already an extremely interesting and diversified agenda by promoting some areas of culture, and that they could have an even more relevant role by bringing up a discussion on Creative Economy, a leading discussion in the United Kingdom, where they pioneered the vision of it as a macro-economic strategy for growth. The debate in the UK is very strong, academically or both in the public and private sector, with very relevant impacts. This is an experience which I thought was highly beneficial to be brought to the Americas in general, where there is a lot of prejudice and ignorance regarding the subject.

Could you briefly explain the Creavite Economy concept to a layperson?

This is a very rich debate and like every debate it doesn’t have a consensus. More than that, even the initial concept definitions in the United Kingdom have been changing over time because it’s becoming clear that creative economy includes all the sectors related to new technologies, to creativity, and that this has been spread exponentially over society. I think that in the near future it won’t be called under these terms anymore, because either people will get involved with it or they will stop existing. Even traditional sectors that don’t have innovation in its DNA will die because the competition is out there and it implies using tools and new instruments related whether to creativity, whether to the technological innovation, which may be very well suit the definition of the original term.

According to a UNESCO and PNUD’s report published in 2013, Creative Economy is the economy sector with the most growth. What are the perspectives for the sector in this critical economic moment in Brazil?

This has been my great militancy for me since the first time I heard about creative economy. I always worked on macro economy, on the political and economic landscape. Many years ago I was invited by the British Council to take part in a seminar in Cardiff about creative economy. At that moment I realized this was the great modern instrument for public policies strategy for growth,  which was being explicitly used in the United Kingdom as a positive insertion in a global world, with intensified competition and a technological revolution with incomparable speed. Ever since I came back from that event, I've decided that I wouldn’t stop until my colleagues started talking about creative economy. It worked. They started talking about it now, but there is still a lot of prejudice about it. They say: ‘Poor Ligia, she now works with design’, contemptuously, and people from the cultural sector also used to see me with disdain, saying ‘well, here’s an economist wanting to corrupt the purity of the culture market’. I was in a crossfire. All the creative economy issues in Brazil had been appropriated by what I call ‘old hippies’, people who think that it meant alternative economy, a handicraft manifesto. It's obvious that craft is fundamental, it's obvious that more sustainable economies and collaborative ideas are absolutely fundamental, but I am talking about macro economy, of growth and the need for employing a generation of 210 million people. So the discussion is about how to actually engage Brazilian Economy and deal with crisis in the long term, in sustainable way. I am convinced that if we don’t get up-to-date with modern economy – which can only happen via creative economy-, we will probably end up having another ephemeral new spike of growing. It's what I call the chicken flight. The point is to inject innovation and creativity in all segments of our economy, from the most traditional to the most modern ones. In my point of view this is absolutely transcendental for us to truly overcome crisis. But unfortunately the country is far from having that reflection.

So what is needed to be done in Brazil for this kind of reflection to be created?

I think one of the fundamental things I have been doing a lot is trying to show the dynamic of capitalism in the modern world.  Which investmenst are being made in the modern world, which ones generate value and jobs? If you think of a company like Apple, an iPad’s value of the physical production in China is  only 3%. What are the 97%? – Creative economy. It’s about design, design, software, design and design (product, packaging). It’s a highly sophisticaded services sector. Another perception we don't have in Brazil.

How can we compare Brazil and United Kingdom in terms of Creative Economy?

This is very interesting. At this same event I attended in Medellín, I presented a few Brazilian case studies which completely amazed my British colleagues. We have absolutely fantastic cases here, from Havaiannas sandals or SESC Community Centres – which by the way have a massive penetration in our society and a well administered generous budget – to our carnival parade, Brazil’s caricature. But if you think of all the production that exists around carnival it's really impressive. Brazil has cases of excellence and all of them have massive volume of resources and huge impact. We have an impressive ability for mobilization, but there isn’t that collective jump of transforming this into a wholesome economic dynamic. I think this is the greatest difference from us and the United Kingdom. They've launched for the first time what they call a task force which put the creative economy in the country’s macro economy core, from the perception that they still had control over the financial market (while manufacturing had gone to Asia, especially to China), but they had to generate jobs and money elsewhere – and for that reason, creative economy was absolutely crucial.

How did your work benefit from this exchange with the United Kingdom?

I always say I’m extremely grateful for having received the invitation to take part into that seminar, where I first heard about the subject. Since then, I’ve been to the UK many times, with the British Council’s support, and had contact with multiple and very different organisations that worked directly with creative economy. When I proposed the Dialogues series, they bought the idea right away and were absolutely fantastic in creating the conditions for the project to happen. I am fully aware that without the British Council none of it wouldn’t have happened. I think this publication [the Dialogues on Creative Economy, which can be downloaded here] is being helpful for opening the discussion in several areas. I would really like to continue this work because I truly believe it makes a massive difference.

 

AUDIO CLIP

(Portuguese)

PROFILE

Lidia Goldenstein

PhD in Economy, researcher in Creative Economy projects in Brazil and abroad.

TRANSFORM PROJECTS

Creative Economy Dialogues

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