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The Future of Cultural Work

Posted by lostincci on May 19, 2010

Ros Gill and Andy Pratt (KCL) are organising a special one day conference along with Mark Banks and Stephanie Taylor (OU) on ‘The future of Cultural Work’ to take place in London on Monday June 7th, 2010.

The programme is available here.

The event is a collaboration between the ESRC research centre CRESC (Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change), Manchester University and the Open University, and KCL.

Registration details are available here.

As ‘creativity’ and ‘creative work’ have become buzzwords for progress, so the cultural and creative industries have become an instrumental feature of national economic and cultural policies. Most recently, cultural, artistic and creative labour has been identified as leading the transition to a more fluid, affective and converged ‘innovation’ economy, where cultural work is valued more for its ability to diffuse ideas and ‘creative energies’ than for its intrinsic value, or for its (potentially) socially transformative or redemptive potential. Firms, national governments, promoters of ‘creative cities’ and development agencies alike have offered a plethora of interventions designed to stimulate growth through organizing and managing creative and cultural work (see ‘Creative Britain’ for example). Such a process has rested on the assumption of a frictionless and mutually beneficial relationship between capital and labour, and culture and economics; where distinctive forms of artistic and cultural production and economic and governmental priorities appear to co-prosper in harmonious union. However, while the specific qualities of cultural and creative work are now assumed to be progressive and beneficial to both capital and labour, recent events cast doubt on the status of creativity as (in Andrew Ross’s words) ‘the oil of the 21st century’. The instrumental gearing of culture to innovation policy, the consolidation of ‘free’, ‘co-creative’ – but precarious, individualized and poorly-remunerated – work in media, cultural and arts organizations, a deep-rooted global recession that has eviscerated opportunities for cultural labour, and in the UK a general election that may alter fundamentally the creative industries script, has markedly transformed this discursive and material field. Here, the benign union of culture and economics, the prospects for rewarding and meaningful cultural industry employment, and the extent to which creative/cultural work could or should meet the demands of economic restructuring and governments, come once again under scrutiny. This conference therefore asks: What is the status of creativity and creative work in this new decade? What is the current and future relationship between the creative and cultural industries and the discursive and material practices of culture and economy?

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