This manifesto is a result of ideas developed through the KreaLab no 1.
KreaLab No 1 was inaugurated by Marita Ljung, State Secretary at the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications in Sweden, and high-lighted keynote-speakers such as Laura Raicovich from Creative Time, NYC; Magdalena Malm of Statens konstråd, Stockholm; Mia Hägg of Habiter Autrement, Paris; Reed Kram of KramWeisshaar, Sthlm/Munich; Per Eriksson of Studio Total, Malmö; Brent Richards of Creative Archipelago, London. A background was provided by Robert Nilsson of the Ministry of Culture, Sweden and of Rasmus Wiinstedt Tscherning of CKO, Copenhagen. A special food insert was performed by Antto Melasniemi, Helsinki, in dialogue with Carsten Höller, Mia Hägg, Jan Åman, Fredrik Wretman and many others. KreaLab No 1 was arranged at the Royal Swedish Academy of fine Arts in Stockholm in October 2013. It was produced by Atelier Slice, Stockholm on commission of KreaNord together with Ny Nordisk Mat , to be the first in a series of labs/conferences to investigate the future of the Cultural and Creative Industries in the Nordic region. It was moderated by Johan Jörgensen and Jan Åman. The Manifesto interprets ideas from the two-day workshop with around 100 contributors. It is a document to be developed.
The early days of the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCI) are over. It is no longer sufficient to promote “creativity”. It does not attract the leading individuals. If one want to take the very notion of the future of the Cultural and Creative Industries seriously it would be: content and relevance rather than creativity, structural change rather than the creative individual.
The most important transformation in recent years is the shift from top-down to bottom-up structures. The old and world-famous Nordic model was a global symbol of industrialized top-down democracy. It created strong and lasting structures. It is now time for the big shift, for an upgrade, and for the cultural sector to lead the way. The CCI must therefore be developed to produce content and relevance by simultaneously develop a new position for the political sector. This means: turn up the money, turn up the understanding of structural change, turn up the relevance and importance of CCI for innovation and growth – and turn down all bureaucratic structures controlled by the public sector. Public money has every potential to be long-term venture capital, not short term (as in the world of business). This means: politics have a new chance to be more important than ever. But it requires a move away from thinking projects to thinking structure.
The Nordic region can only be developed through cultural relevance, not superficial “creativity”. This may sound like a 1970’s social statement from the public sector, but it is the opposite. It is the key to a world beyond shallow and already outdated definitions of creative work – and a path to re-establish the idea of how to produce content and relevance.
One could imagine that the future is built through technology and economy alone, but those days are gone. The starting point is that the Nordic region since long is wealthier than perhaps any other region – and that we already are advanced technological developers. However, the rest of the world is moving fast to catch up, since with today’s technology leaps can be made with incredible speed. Therefore the use of creativity must be a structural creativity: to add the slices that are missing, the slices that create links and visualizes perspectives. This is the urgent state of things.
Today’s globalized society is crying for one thing and one thing only: content and relevance. This is opposed to a contemporary situation based on selling and seduction alone. Contemporary urbanity is like a newspaper with only advertising. Content is something else. Content is the independent article in-between the ads, not with the aim to take away the ads, but to create the links and understanding between them. This could also be spelled: integrity. Integrity has always been the tool for change.
To call for creativity is therefore not enough. It is like painting an ever so last layer of fancy color on an object someone else already designed. It may be fun but it shines briefly and awkwardly.
What is at stake now is something else: to design the structures that would re-think the possibilities of the object, i.e. cultural understanding. So we need to re-think the cultural education, to invest in education, invest in silence – and make that into a global statement. Culture and cultural relevance are healthier words than creativity.
The future is built on an old truth: on people. Or, to put it correctly, by inviting people to help create the wanted future development. The Nordic countries, tiny as they are and with few inhabitants, has since ancient times been built on being a passage, on bringing in foreign knowledge, on bringing in influences from the world outside – as well as of reaching out, to go out there and be present. So did the Vikings. So did modernists. It is not a question of any kind knowledge, but by bringing the leading individuals – the leading artists, architects, philosophers – those that move the world forward in unexpected ways. This has to be re-established. The current public system invests too much in networks that are too local and too bureaucratic. It is like a society of its own, built on applications, but with no connection to the outer world.
A re-launch the Nordic region as the hub for the interesting individuals must be understood thoroughly. Today it is not enough to invite the Descartes of our time. Today change is developed through more large-scale urban influences. This is a new situation, with new demands. Again, it is not about an individual, ever so creative, it is about structure, about urbanity. One cannot buy that kind of development, or can you? So far, internationally, this development, sometimes tagged as gentrification, has been developed through affordable housing of larger quantities and younger people attracting each other to an urban area. Therefore there would be a need for larger scale urban destinations to give the future creators shelter and creative environments. There would also be centers needed to fuel the activities in these environments.
The Nordic capitals should, between 2014 and 2020, build 100 000 housing units each especially commissioned to create a new city or a new burrow outside of the existing city centers. All units are to be built with rent control. The units must be created by world leading architects, driven by public funding, and commissioned to smaller entrepreneurs to build. The cities created must have the goal to really put up a competition with the other cities in the world that now attract the younger, creative people, like Berlin, Athens, Brooklyn or Shanghai. The housing units should be prototypes, case study houses, searching for new solutions, adopted for contemporary conditions, developing and innovating solutions for affordable housing, as well as new business models. By building as many units as 100 000 units in each of the Nordic capitals a lot of possibilities open up for future development. The result in Reykjavik would be as interesting as that in Copenhagen.
In each Nordic capital there shall also be built a new large-scale experimental cultural venue, connected to the new city structure. These centers should be planned in collaboration with leading international universities (but why not in dialogue and collaboration with the local universities?) and be of such size that the have a global significance. They should be planned to be active nodes for the development in each city and to be connected with the other Nordic capitals. They are to be the cultural venues for a new era, as much hubs for experiment as venues where leading talent meet. Public cultural venues were tools for development in the modern era, but the public sector has given away all initiatives to the private market – and it is time to restore the drive for the future. It is an investment. It is politics leading the way.
Arrange bi-annually The New Nordic Summit, inviting 99 international speakers to each capital every second year – at the same time. That would attract the world’s leading creators to the Nordic region every second year and what would be the outcome of such gatherings we can only begin to imagine. It will be huge. It will start an infinite number of projects. Each person has a five-minute presentation of a choses topic – to be followed by creative workshops. Production of these gatherings should be made in dialogue with the Creative Time team in New York to start with, to later find it’s own organizational forms.
As part of the New Nordic Summit (or as a separate initiative) commission every year 10 leading international designers/architects/artists to design the products that would re-establish the Nordic region as a hub for innovation. Give the ideas to different companies to produce as prototypes and real series.
Create – through public funding – The New Nordic Model Report, a digital platform with the clear ambition to be the leading digital global content platform. Less ads, more articles than anywhere else. To, in every way, create something more powerful than The Huffington Post or The Guardian.
Develop, drastically, the current public cultural educational system. Upgrade to include contemporary cultural expressions and promote this globally. It will attract high-end people to move to the Nordic region as their kids will be better educated than anywhere else.
Begin all higher education (university level) with one semester of history of ideas.
Build all above as one single brand for the Nordic countries: IDEAS ARE THE NEW CURRENCY.