[COMMENTARY] The Economic and Social Significance of Creativity

4 March 2016

By Ms Jet BUSSEMAKER, Minister of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands

This article is part of the ASEM 20th Anniversary Publication on “Celebrating 20 Years of Asia-Europe Relations”. The publication is a collection of articles by leaders and experts from Asia and Europe on the past, present and future of ASEM. Selected articles from this collection will be compiled and published as a book by the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), which will be launched at the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit (ASEM11) in 2016 in Mongolia.

In reflecting in this essay for the ASEM 20th anniversary publication, my mind inevitably went back to the 6th ASEM Culture Ministers’ Meeting held in 2014 in Rotterdam. That meeting showed that the creative industries could act as catalysts in enhancing the cultural cooperation between Asia and Europe. So, I am very pleased that the creative industries will also be on the main agenda for the next meeting of Culture Ministers in Gwangju in 2016.

The Rotterdam meeting reinforced the conviction that our economies were becoming more cultural in nature and that the economic and social significance of creativity was growing.

The start of the 21st century has required Asia and Europe to employ development strategies in order to foster human creative potential that can respond to the cultural, economic, social and technological shifts taking place. It was acknowledged that the creative industries have the ability to make use of culture to provide new insights and solutions to benefit both societal and economic goals.

At the same time, ASEM Culture Ministers acknowledged that many countries that have placed the creative industries on the policy agenda faced challenges. How to create links between different creative entrepreneurs and between entrepreneurs in creative and ‘non-creative’ sectors? How to broker opportunities for education and science to interact with the creative industries? And, how to make these developments reinforce initiatives at regional and city levels reciprocally?

The Ministers underlined that, in seeking answers to these questions, they had to recognise the value of the creative industries for creating a competitive advantage. Innovation does not come through technological advancement per se: technological advancement can also be traced back to imagination, creativity and craftsmanship.

Excerpted from "The Economic and Social Significance of Creativity", published by the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF).