Creative economy of tomorrow - GulfToday

Creative economy of tomorrow


Representational image.

It was in 2019 that the United Nations, unaware of the impending COVID-19 pandemic, had designated 2021 as the Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development. The idea was mooted by a group of countries including Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Mongolia , Philippines and Thailand. This was to be implemented by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

According to UNESCO, the culture and creative industries, which include media and entertainment, as well as preservation of cultural heritage and encouragement of tourism is worth US$2,250 billion, and it is capable of generating 30 million jobs and contribute 10 per cent of the global GDP. In a world, which has been crippled by COVID-19, it might look unrealistic to expect that culture industry can help revive the economy and create jobs.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that during the extended periods of lockdown, consumption of entertainment has increased considerably and digital platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney. But entertainment is only a segment of the culture industry. Information of all kinds, including that provided by media is an important aspect. At a time when people and communities and countries seem to have been cut off from each other, however monetarily, the connect is sustained through digital networks. The other important aspect of the culture industry is education at all levels. The educational field could become a large employer in terms of teachers and administrative staff of schools, colleges, and universities and the digital networks connected with them.

The potential is quite huge. In the old scheme of things, education was seen as a way of turning out skilled workforce. In the new order, education can be seen as a value-enhancing process, where in students and future citizens are trained to understand and appreciate and preserve the rich inheritance, physical and historical, of the humankind. Information attains a new edge where it becomes a means of living a qualitative life rather than as a mere means of earning a livelihood.

It is reckoned that countries like United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are making huge investment in the cultural sector, which includes preservation of human heritage in creative ways apart from preserving natural landscapes. It has become clear that as Artificial Intelligence (AI) is going to dominate the future of manufacturing where factory floors will be populated by robots, a phenomenon that has become quite a norm in advanced industrial economies like Japan.

The best way then of redeploying the work force would be the culture sector.

There have been many doomsayers who have predicted that media and entertainment as we know them at present would not be the same in a post-COVID-19 world. It is indeed the case but it is not the end of the road as much as the opening of fresh avenues. And it is not necessary that the vast culture industry would only create passive consumers like those watching programmes either on the laptop or on the mobile phone.

The interactive mode will become more dominant, and this would change the manner education is imparted or culture is appreciated. The university debate and classical music concert might come through a digital stream, but it will be of a better quality where a larger number of people would have access to it. It would have been the case that as technology changes, the quality of life will improve. This could only mean that access to culture, a 19th century English literary critic Matthew Arnold has described as the ‘best that has been though t and said’, is to connect with the best that we have inherited from the past, and the best that we leave behind for the future.

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