The strange but common distinction between “creative” industries and others

The front page story on last week’s City News (Festive Sydney gets creative) included the strange but commonly-made distinction between “creative” industries and other industires. While the story focussed on a festival (the inaugural Creative Sydney festival), its messages were consistent with a commonly-expressed theme of particular industries being “creative”.

Interestingly, “creative” has been turned into a noun, e.g. “I employed a creative to work on X”. This usage appears to be used for a person employed in “creative” work or in a “creative industry”.

The City News article stated:

Creative Sydneysiders have a chance to let their true colours fly, with new events announced as part of the inaugural Creative Sydney festival.

Launching in late May, the festival will celebrate the strength of the city’s creative talents.

Geoff Parmenter, CEO of Events NSW said: “The festival features many free events that will engage the community with the arts and the city’s creative industries.”

Creative industries include music, design, architecture, gaming, photography, performance, writing, radio, film, TV, advertising and visual arts.

Over three weeks from May 27, the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Foundation Hall will be home to the Creative Sydney event series featuring talks, performances and exhibitions showcasing the local creative industries.

I object to this labelling of some industries as “creative”, as it implies that work in those industries, as opposed to others, particularly draws upon creativity. Now people are creative in all different types of work, across all kinds of industries – and not just ones such as discussed in the news article.

The apparent distinction between “creative” work and other work will probably disappear in time, although it’s impossible to know how long this will take. But after it disappears, people will look back and wonder why such a strange distinction was ever made. The current distinction may well be a simple stereotyping of what different sorts of work entails, but this stereotyping isn’t very useful nor informative.

2 Responses to The strange but common distinction between “creative” industries and others

  1. phil@vvb says:

    “creative” industries = people who make and do things who require a publicly funded subsidy to do them.

    “other” industries = people who need a publicly funded subsidy to help them after the people who previously paid them go broke because of the GFC.

    This is just one theory, mind…

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