Culture and Technology, Digitalisierung

The Innovation Gap – The Arts+ Innovation Summit 2018

Geschätzte Lesezeit: 6 Minuten

Within the Frankfurt book fair 2018, the Arts+ Innovation Summit proposed an interesting “European Manifesto on Supporting Innovation for Cultural and Creative Sectors”. It needs to be stressed that in this article, we will provide a summary of its main points that is enhanced with our own questions. Ideally, this will work as a foundation for discussion and further analysis. In case you want to read the original European Manifesto, you will find it under this link:

Even though new technologies are developing rapidly, they often fail to have a bigger impact on society or the market, resulting in a “growing innovation gap between technology and culture” (1).

But why should we care? The Arts+ Innovation Summit 2018 points out that this is highly significant for citizens, as “digitization and new technologies can have a big impact on the diversity of cultural activities and content.” (1) They stress the necessity to adapt cultural and the creative sectors to the advancing digital age and call for a “more effective innovation strategy for culture.” (1)

copyright: THE ARTS+/ Frankfurter Buchmesse GmbH

“Culture helps us make sense of our world, and it should provide a moral compass for technology. We must ensure that technology serves human beings, not the other way round.” (1-2) – The Arts+ Innovation Summit 2018

What is happening?

1. The shift towards the digital age is solely being shaped by market interests and wider discussions within society are missing. For example, “there is a growing trend toward market concentration in book publishing” (2) which leads to less diversity and a less healthy market.

2. Traditional forms of journalism have to compete with large digital players, that lure their audiences with false information, clickbait and advertisements. To compensate declining revenues, many papers turn to a corporate subscription model. This may result in an information-monopole of those who are able to pay for high quality journalism.

Journalism in rural areas is managed increasingly by superordinate publishing houses – doesn’t this always go hand in hand with a declining quality of local news?

3. A majority of museums are still technologically and digitally undeveloped, as digital technologies are seen as tools, not as ways of creating new content. However, museums need to connect to broad sections of society, stressing their need for advancement.

The Arts+ Innovation Summit regards six main structural problems at the core of this innovation gap, which occur on smaller, regional levels, but also on national and European levels.

1. The sectors‘ segmentation

While the new digital age facilitates “platformisation and monopolization” (4), the cultural and creative sectors consist to 95% of small companies with less than 10 employees. This creates problems like the ‘value gap’: there is a high need of creative content but those who produce it have a low income.

Moreover, within the cultural and creative sectors, there is a lack of cooperation, as the sectors mostly “work in isolation from each other, as well as from other sectors.” (4) In the digital age, such cooperation gets easier, but the “growing need for unity” (4) has not yet reached the sector ministries.

Accordingly, this leads to a strengthened “conservative culture and mindset” (4), meaning that many players in the sectors are reluctant towards new ideas and innovations.

2. Lack of money

The prerequisite for any innovation is money. However, cultural and creative sectors are severely underfinanced and have to depend on their own financial means. Public funding policies are widely missing, and national cultural budgets are shrinking throughout Europe: In 2011, it was assumed that there is “a financing gap of between EUR 2.8 billion and EUR 4.8 billions […].” (4)

copyright: Alexander Heimann, THE ARTS+/ Frankfurter Buchmesse GmbH

3. Specific characteristics of the cultural and creative sectors

The cultural and creative sectors for example focus on “intellectual property (IP), e-content as a service, people-centered assets, such as creativity, experience and social and cultural impact” (4). These concepts can only hardly be measured – this impedes innovation.

Moreover, the understanding of innovation in these sectors is fundamentally different than innovation in more technological sectors: in comparison to concrete technological innovation, “cultural, social and content innovation, new processes and business model innovation” (4) is harder to grasp, especially for outsiders.

Since the sectors are “knowledge- and labour-intensive” (5), this reinforces the conservative mindset as players may be reluctant to turn their backs on conventional practices which have proven themselves to be effective.

Another factor is the enlarged regulation of cultural and creative sectors through the state, as there is a widespread public interest in the content. Such state regulations may also hinder innovation.

In what ways are the cultural and creative sectors more “knowledge and labour intensive” than other sectors, as they connect this to the conservative mindset of the sectors’ players?

copyright: Alexander Heimann, THE ARTS+/ Frankfurter Buchmesse GmbH

4. “Lack of integration of technical and entrepreneurial skills; potential loss of “traditional” values and know-how”

In cultural and creative sectors, there are few workers with technical and entrepreneurial skills. This is mostly because of the “lack of appropriate education and training” (5) and the sector’s low appeal to skilled professionals, due to low income and image problems of the sectors.

Additionally, The Arts+ Innovation summit 2018 points out the “danger that existing values and capacities will be lost” (5), as digitization may blur the lines between the (originally separate) remits within the cultural and creative sectors.

5. Need for new value/business models

As cultural and creative sectors mostly rely on paid online content, they are challenged by big platforms who receive money by selling devices, through advertisements and through selling customer data.

The sectors are already struggling to transform businesses to a single digital market. However, this becomes even more of a challenge, when businesses are faced with growing internationalization.

Especially publicly funded institutions are financially struggling: “Before the 2008 financial crisis, average public spending on cultural services in Europe was growing by five per cent a year; since then, it has fallen by one per cent each year.” (5)

6. Need for internationalization

An internationalization of culture and creative sectors is very challenging especially as cultural diversity will fade, but beneficial in many respects: this would mean increasing revenues, more effective creating processes through international cooperation and international reception. Nowadays, such internationalization is still challenged by the isolationism of the sectors and the “national regulations and legislations, which prevents them from operating fully and successfully at the international level.” (6)

How can we maintain the cultural diversity that makes rural areas so unique, despite Internationalization?


Now we have summarized the main causes of the Innovation Gap. In our next article coming soon, we will also summarize possible solutions.

Source: „European Manifesto on Supporting Innovation for Cultural and Creative Sectors“ – The Arts+ Innovation Summit 2018, Frankfurter Buchmesse.

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