Creative Industries Cluster at ICCPR 2022

By Karen Patel on October 24th, 2022

At the 2022 International Conference for Cultural Policy Research (ICCPR), delegates explored the theme of ‘Disruption or interruption?’. The conference was held in Antwerp, Belgium’s largest city and just a short train ride from Brussels. Four of us from the Creative Industries Cluster, Karen Patel, Christian Moerken, Jill Robinson and Annette Naudin, participated in a panel session titled ‘Disruption in the creative industries, and policy implications’. Our panel included short case studies illustrating disruption in the creative industries, as a framework for unpacking the interruption caused by the pandemic. The panel considered challenges and opportunities for the creative industries and cultural policy. Presentations included: insights into craft organisations’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic (Patel); young people’s disruptive practice (Robinson); the cultural value of the analogue book in the digital age (Moerken); and the pandemic and creative Higher Education (Naudin).

The four-day conference provided a space to discuss cultural policy developments but also to pause and think about the role of culture, what we mean by culture and how we might refocus the scope of cultural policy beyond the ‘creative economy’ discourse. Macro level perspectives explored the relationship between culture and sustainability in the face of energy, financial crisis and global insecurities. Presentations included keynote speakers Gijs de Vries, Chris Dercon and Louise Haxthausen demonstrating a commitment to bridging academic research with cultural policy in practice, albeit from a European perspective. In comparison, a panel debate with global reach explored ‘UNESCO and the Cultural Goal’ by proposing an 18th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for 2030. Led by Justin O’Connor, the panel invited us to rethink the role of culture, shifting away from culture as ‘a whole way of life’ and the economic arguments which have dominated cultural policy. Panel members gave examples of how they have begun to reimagine culture through projects such as the RESET project in Australia. Ideas of rethinking culture and the role it plays as part of democracy were further developed by Tully Barnet describing her work on the Value of Culture, Lab Adelaide. Drawing on ideas from the Foundational Economy, the panel made the case for rethinking social democracy principles after years of neoliberalism, focused on collectives rather than individuals.

Other panels were concerned with various aspects of cultural work and cultural policy, particularly sustainability and inequalities. A panel on sustainable prosperity in the arts and cultural sectors featuring Victoria Durrer, Rebecca Finkel, Anthony Schrag, Kate Oakley and Justin O’Connor critiqued ideas of ‘green’ futures which often neglected the working classes and popular culture. The panel discussed ideas of care and the commons (which came up frequently during the conference) as imagining more equitable and sustainable futures, in which culture can play a key role. In another panel on researching inequalities, Orian Brook, Dave O’Brien and Mark Taylor discussed their research on cultural workers and cultural consumption, the latter is timely given this year’s BCMCR theme. Another panel explored the contribution of arts Practice-as-research to cultural policy studies, including the work of Sophie Hope who discussed the Corkscrew project at Birkbeck university. The project Sophie described included different methods for coding and analysing data such as collages, diagrams, editing and the dissemination of work as part of the analytical process.

Overall the conference panels provided interesting perspectives on future directions of creative industries and cultural policy research post-pandemic.