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Artistic competence - a potential high-growth sector

The European cultural and creative sector is estimated to turn over EUR 650 thousand million per year, and the link between the cultural sector and economic growth is becoming more and more relevant.

Evelina Wahlqvist, researcher at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, challenges the traditional view that art should be subsidised and cannot be expected to generate money.

People in materially well-off societies show an increasing demand for various kinds of experiences. This implies a growing market for cultural products, and new concepts such as the 'creative industries' and the 'experience economy' are emerging. A report co-authored by Wahlqvist in 2007, Sweden in the Creative Age, reveals surprising results of creativity assessments across Sweden - that density of artists and economic growth correlate quite well.

'These findings pointed to the indirect contributions of cultural work. Now it's time to take the next step - to study the direct contributions of the cultural sector to economic growth - and I focus on the individuals,' says Wahlqvist, who used statistics and in-depth interviews with creative arts graduates to explore the career paths of artists in terms of geographical choices, economic activity and creative contributions.

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There is potential
'Efforts made within the creative industry are often discussed from a top-down perspective. We must also look at the situations of the artists. Knowledge about the opportunities and obstacles these individuals experience can be utilised to lift the perspective, make generalisations and draw conclusions that may contribute to a strong artistic sector,' says Wahlqvist, who feels that society can become better at taking advantage of artistic competence.
The new report Making Art Work proposes how this can be done. In addition to descriptions of career paths, the report also addresses how the interviewed creative arts graduates feel about the educational programmes in their fields.

The study focuses on graduates from the School of Design and Crafts and the Valand School of Fine Arts, both in Gothenburg. The research project is carried out jointly by the Centre for Regional Analysis at the School of Business, Economics and Law, and the Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts, both at the University of Gothenburg.

Helena Aaberg | idw
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