South African Cultural Observatory

Creativity in Cultural and Creative Industries and Innovation through the lens of the Basque Government

BY 13.12.23

The Department of Culture and Language Policy, a Department of the Basque Government, invited the South African Cultural Observatory to present at the CCIs and Innovation Contrast Open Conference in Bilbao, Spain on October 25–26, 2023. Throughout the week, the main focus was on how innovation is measured and encouraged in the cultural and creative sectors. A global study on innovation ecosystems and this conference, were two main aspects of the Contrast project,with a view to learning more about the innovation ecosystem of each of the 20 region's selected to take part in the study, , including South Africa.

The Observatory's executive director, Ms. Unathi Lutshaba, participated in a roundtable discussion on "enhancing relevance from difference" alongside other prominent young executives. She discussed cross-sector cooperation, homologation, and the crucial balancing act. In her discussion she stated that the cross-disciplinary nature of the creative sector means that there is a constant exchange of ideas,  leading to a wider perspective on issues that drive innovation. The Observatory has been instrumental in identifying and supporting these clusters and  the countries creatives, through research and analysis.

Key takeaways from the conference:

‘The expansion of East Africa’s regional block from five to eight countries offers the largest market opportunity for innovative goods and services in sub-Saharan Africa.’ - Faisal Kiwewa, Founder and Artistic Director of Bayimba Foundation (Uganda).

‘In the Methow Valley, creativity builds a culture of innovation – which leads to magnetic innovation cycle attracting people ready to think creatively to solve problems and innovate.’ – Sarah Brown, Executive Director at TwispWorks (Washington).

‘Cultural and creative sector innovations empower everything and gives hope’. Eija Tanninen-Komulainen, Executive Director at Design Union (Finland).

‘Regional innovation ecosystems are the responses that each territory finds to its unique innovation challenges, to unleash its hidden potential and talents and to capitalize upon its genius loci.’ – Pier Luigi Sacco, Director of the Policy Optimizer of the EIT Culture & Creativity.

‘Innovation is the key for growth, especially with new emerging technologies.’ – Jamadagni Hirisave, Creative Innovation Platform Karnataka (India).

By the end of the conference, it was clear that, understanding the significance and impact of the cultural 
and creative industries, is essential to understanding how important they are to innovation and that assessing
their effects on the economy, society, and environment is critical. The conference provided an excellent opportunity to examine the study's findings and delve deeper into various viewpoints from experts from around the world.

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