The Second Creative Revolution

The Second Creative Revolution

A new perspective on the creative economy; culture and creative industries

Florence, Italy, around 1350. Innovation, new technologies and the rise of creativity and culture as a driving force of a post-medieval economy started the Renaissance. This movement led to the economy of Western Europe changing from one based on barter, to one based on money. Innovations and improvements in ship design and navigational instruments resulted in the expansion of seaborne trade. Industry, especially textiles, metals, and shipbuilding also grew through innovations in materials and production methods. Art, wine, leather goods and other high value added goods saw wealth become more inclusive – success was no longer solely reliant on social class.

This explosion of innovation, born of creative and critical thinking, then spread to the developing economies of Northern Europe, having an equally significant impact in those countries. Commerce, education and the whole social and cultural fabric of society were changed.

The parallels with today are striking with the world’s economy once again in transition.

Once, not that long ago, wealth, growth and innovation relied on natural resource intensive, large-scale manufacturing industries allied to global mass distribution of physical goods. We are moving rapidly to a new industrial model based on creativity, digital technology, talent and knowledge.

The global market provides the simplest and most dramatic way of showing this revolution – through the way it values businesses. Where once we saw oil, automotive and retail companies dominate the list of most valuable companies, now they are almost exclusively technology companies – Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook.

For content producers and creative entrepreneurs, production costs have fallen, distribution has become truly ubiquitous and new technologies have opened up previously unthinkable applications. These digital-creative industries are generating new opportunities for trade, growth and entrepreneurship, allowing creators to reach global audiences through platforms such as Amazon Appstore, Google Play, YouTube, Facebook, Patreon and Steam.

The creative industries have gone from cottage industry to global economic powerhouse.

The creative sector is globally recognised for its important economic contribution; the investment & export opportunities it creates; its social, cultural and commercial impact and the vibrant far-reaching international identity it can create for towns, cities, regions & countries.  It is a sector of strategic importance and significant potential.

It is a sector that has innovation at its heart and one that is increasingly and intrinsically linked to the knowledge & digital economies.  The creation of a strong digital-creative economy is a driver of sustainable growth and innovation ecosystems that impact across economic sectors.

The perception of the CCI’s and the creative economy should be far beyond the intrinsic value. They can contribute to and benefit development of other sectors, generate opportunities for cultural strategy (also leverage what is happening nationally in foreign relation instruments), be strong tools for sustainable development goals, for climate change actions and communication, help overcoming social and cultural clashes, create social cohesion and educational aspiration and achievement and is at the heart of many progressive national growth strategies. The creative industries have a particular appeal to many young people and are a valuable tool for engaging an otherwise dis-engaged youth.


The Second Creative Revolution

Innovation is driven by creative entrepreneurialism – whether that is in immersive technology, tourism, clean energy, healthcare or the fight against global warming. The ability of the digital-creative industries to engage young people in education and then offer them opportunities to build successful knowledge-based businesses means that the entrepreneurial, start-up and creative ecosystem grows and impacts across the whole of economy, culture and society. The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently produced a report entitled The Future of Jobs.[1] In it, they concluded that the most important skills for the new landscape of the 4IR were Creativity, Critical Thinking and Complex Problem Solving. WEF has also published many other articles on the skill shift, the sectors experience exchange and growing need of creativity.

The MD for International Monetary Fund Kristalina Georgieva also underlines the importance of the new routine cognitive skills. The routine cognitive skills are abstract reasoning, systems thinking, collaboration, and ability to experiment. Artists and creative industry practitioners are in many cases tinged by these characteristics.

Many technology leaders are now talking about the central role that Liberal Arts – and not necessarily STEM – graduates will have in the development, design and implementation of this new industrial and technological landscape. This Creative Transformation of an economy, as a similar concept to Digital Transformation, is where the Fourth Industrial Revolution – or 4IR – now evolves into the Second Creative Revolution – or 2CR. You might also see this as something of a Second Renaissance.

It is not only about linking technology and the liberal arts; more general knowledge is needed amongst students and professionals in all sectors, exchange of experience and perspective are important already in education in order to create leaders who embrace the true meaning of cultural intelligence; i.e; understand the importance of diversity and creativity.

The Second Creative Revolution offers the opportunity to build an economy based on digital, creative, technological skills, innovation, entrepreneurialism and culture.


The Future

So what needs to be done by governments and global agencies to access the benefits of this creative revolution?

The key is recognising that creative innovation extends far beyond what is normally perceived as the creative industries and into every sector of the global economy. Look at the impacts of immersive content production on the construction and healthcare sectors, of digital storytelling on tourism and democracy and of creative thinking in corporate governance and leadership.

However, the issue is that the creative and cultural industry’s importance to that process needs to be fully recognised. We have to understand that the new economic and social landscape is fundamentally different to what we’ve known for the last two hundred years. Creativity, science, technology, art and culture are part of a single process, a whole that we should no longer describe through the terminology of sectors. They are simply an element of a complex creative innovation ecosystem.

More awareness is also generally needed on exactly how the creative sector professionals can help boosting innovation in the broader economy; through the transfer of skills and perspectives.

The 2013 UN Report on Creative Economy talks about the impact of this across society. It states “Investing in culture and the creative sector…can also lead to results that contribute to the overall wellbeing of communities, individual self-esteem and quality of life, dialogue and cohesion”.

So when we talk about innovation in clean energy for instance, or in the battle against global warming, we have to move beyond ‘the science’. We have to decouple the idea that innovation is a function solely of science and technology. Government policy, private capital and national fiscal instruments also have to recognise that innovation and entrepreneurship go far beyond the blinkers of ‘fast growing technology’.

When we look at how we can most effectively deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, that are so central to an inclusive, equitable and environmentally balanced global economy, the digital-creative economies have to be at the front and centre of that mission.

To paraphrase William Gibson, the future is here already, it’s just not evenly distributed. Developing countries, regions and cities, and even many industrialised countries, need to recognise that the Dark Ages of natural resource intensive industrial production is coming to an end.

The digital-creative industries not only offers equitable substantial economic growth, wealth creation and entrepreneurship, it can do so whilst creating a stronger social and cultural fabric – something that not many traditional industries and sectors can claim. So combining digital technology, culture, people and creative education will drive the innovation we need for the next industrial revolution.

If we want to achieve these things, if we want to build a more inclusive, more sustainable and more equitable world then we’ll find that in the new Renaissance of a digital-creative future.

Johanna Kouzmine-Karavaïeff – Suo cultural strategy, Peter Rudge, cultural  & creative clusters, Khawar Hameed digital transformation, Artisans of Innovation


[1] World Economic Forum, Future of Jobs Report, 2018


Sculpture Thinker With Golden VR Glasses Over Pink Background. 3D Illustration.