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As our commitment to the European Research Council we have held 3 very successful workshops in the past year which were attended by some important representatives from the 13 creative sectors.

While we hosted the attendance of some key stakeholders from academia and government, the most crucial participants have been the creative freelancers, entrepreneurs and practitioners who helped us by informing the research with the views of their day to day challenges and opportunities in the creative industries.

Workshop 1

The first workshop which was held in December of 2007. It  was led and  moderated by Pauline Beaumont – Chief Executive Officer of Culture North East and was a great start to the project.

This workshop was crucial in informing the direction of the project while also highlighting the challenges we would face in the following months. Martin Wilson owner of Tin Arts - a Durham based creative movement company (http://tinarts.co.uk/) talked about his business model which consists of using the firm’s capabilities to tailor programmes for their customers rather than having a pre-set offer of services. In his opinion the firm’s strengths lies in the combination of competencies which can be put together to meet the client’s needs and requests. This discussion was very interesting as we begun to see the non- traditional approaches to business which creative entrepreneurs take on their ventures.

During this workshop the attendees were also given the opportunity to discuss innovative businesses in their own sectors,  and examine  examples of how other practitioners have created business models that works for them. An interesting example was the play ‘Our friends in the North’ which was showcased at Northern Stage in Newcastle and triggered an increase in sales of the DVD series. We also heard about Danny Lane, the glass furniture and sculpture designer who uses a limited edition model while also holding on to past pieces to increase their value in the future.

Some of the key themes and issues from this workshop:

  • Planning for creativity: how can this be achieved when so many creative practitioners depend on grants and other inconsistent types of funding?
  • Alternative value systems and different ways of putting value or attributing value to creations.
  • In what ways are the CI unique and in what ways similar to other sectors?
  • Could we capture the important characteristics of the creative industries and apply to other sectors?
  • Investment of time and value of that time taken to create a piece of work, which is not transparent to the broader public whereas in traditional businesses, R&D is recognised as part of the process.
  • The importance of networks and collaborations in the creative industries: certainly a lesson for all types of businesses

Workshop 2

The second workshop took place on the 24th of April at Newcastle University Business School and this time we welcomed Tony Wadsworth – former CEO of EMI Music UK and currently Chairman of the BPI , the trade association for the recorded music industry. Tony made a very interesting presentation about the evolution of the music industry and the role of creativity in driving the business forward.

We also had the great pleasure of welcoming presentations from 3 different creative organisations. Tees Valley Dance made a presentation about how they are commercialising their ideas not only through dance programmes but also through DVD and other media packages.

Victoria Smyth from AIDA Arts made a presentation about her company which helps artists to apply for funding from various organisations in order to take their projects forward and become sustainable in their own right. AIDA Arts is quite an innovative regional firm. They recognised a need in the market: artists spend too much time writing application forms which are not always successful and takes time away from their creative process. AIDA Arts is thus creating a niche for itself with no competition and future expansion plans.

We also heard from Richard Owen founder of the Funk Network, an initiative that aims at creating a strong network of funk bands and artists in the UK. Richard is also a musician, booking agent and currently plays in two live bands. He gave the audience an interesting insight into the live music business and how the internet has greatly disrupted this industry which now needs to develop new sustainable business models more than ever.

Some of the key themes and issues from this workshop:

  • Business models: how can we achieve a consensus in combining business values (growth, profit generation, internationalisation and competition) and creative values (passion, self-expression, love of…)
  • The music industry and other creative sectors affected by the internet. How can we make the internet work in our favour?
  • Sustainability, lack of commercial activities in some sub-sectors
  • Why are artists poor? Is this problem part of a culture among some creative sectors?
  • The experience economy – can this concept better capture some of the activities in the creative industries
  • Paying for experience rather than products/services – is this a model? Does this create value?

Workshop 3

In the third and last workshop we welcomed David Parrish, author of the book T-shirts and Suits and a leading creative industries consultant. His presentation was very important in informing the views of the variety of creative practitioners he has worked with over the years.

David Parrish highlighted two important issues at the workshop: the needless dichotomy of business and creativity: the two can certainly mix and are essential to each other. He also talked about the entrepreneurial myth: creative labourer and creative entrepreneur are two different concepts and intellectual property plays an important role in defining the latter.

While talking about intellectual property David also touched upon the relevance of exploiting IP and making money while you sleep which should be a sustainable business model for those who know how to balance business and creativity.

In this workshop we also presented the taxonomy of business models with international examples of how people everywhere are creating new models that working for their particular sector.

Although this was the last workshop we received valuable feedback about our findings and this feedback will certainly influence our future research projects.

Some of the key themes and issues from this workshop:

  • What is unique about the creative industries? Passion, arts for arts sake, for the love of it? But passion can be found in other industries
  • The creative commons: a new way of sharing, a new sustainable model
  • Artistic industries vs. creative industries = political manoeuvre. This is a justification to argue that arts have some commercial value, arts has to justify activities in commercial values.
  • The importance of exploiting intellectual property
  • The creative industries: are the sectors included in the DCMS definition consistent? How can we talk about 13 distinct sectors in a general way?
  • Can we talk about creativity in a consistent way? What is the best way to define the term
  • Creative approach vs. creative models: the business models may not be exclusive to the creative industries. It is the way that people approach problems that could be investigated