The Cultural and Creative Industries: Pathways Beyond Economic Growth

Online Seminar Series

Call for Papers: deadline 5pm, 5 October 2020

The cultural and creative industries: pathways beyond economic growth

This call for papers is an extension of the original call for papers for the panel ‘The Cultural and Creative Industries: Pathways Beyond Economic Growth’ at the annual international Royal Geographical Society conference in September 2020, which was postponed until summer 2021 due to the global pandemic. This Seminar Series was instigated to keep the academic discourse ongoing rather than delayed, which we considered was important in light of the general theme of the call and current global context. All papers submitted and accepted for the RGS 2020 are thus invited to resubmit and/or alter their submissions for the Seminar Series instead.

The cultural and creative industries (CCIs) have been subject to increasing policy and academic attention in the past twenty years (Gross, 2020). The sector has been seen variously as a flagbearer for the future of the digital economy, a stimulus for urban regeneration, a fix for local and regional development disparities (Chapain & Comunian, 2010), a way to address income inequality and a catalyst to address exclusion and marginalisation. These discourses have been prompted by, and reflected in a series of shifts in material, financial and discursive support for the CCIs around the world. For example, in Latin and South America the creative industries have evolved into the Orange Economy, and are seen as a key way to simultaneously develop the economy, society and infrastructure (Restrepo & Márquez, 2013). The Inter-American Development Bank has urged Latin and South American governments to ‘squeeze the orange’ and assimilate cultural production into the economy through new accounting techniques, policy interventions and IP regulations. Similarly, policymakers internationally have used CCIs in new rhetoric for economic development like Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s current Minister of Information and Culture, declaring them “Nigeria’s new oil” (Lai Mohammed, 2017). In the UK, funding bodies have reoriented their priorities to shift from research about the creative industries to work with or for creative industries enterprises, individually or in specific places. As funding schemes policy foci are shifted, scholars have reflected on the tensions between advancement of knowledge, critique of the creative industries and reproduction of problematic discourses and potentially damaging policy interventions (Banks & O’Connor, 2017; Moreton, 2018).

At the same time as policy discourse surrounding the CCIs has grown more hyperbolic, academics have levelled criticism for a number of important reasons. For instance, for being too economistic and erasing the cultural value of the activities creative companies undertake (Comunian, 2009; Kong, 2005; Walmsley, 2013); for silencing, or at least overlooking, some of the negative aspects of the CCIs (Aust, 2020; Dent, 2019; Desai, 2020); for focusing too much on Anglo-American case studies and the Global North (Fahmi, McCann, & Koster, 2015; Kong, Gibson, Khoo, & Semple, 2006); for an urban-centric bias to a lot of policy for the CCIs (particularly towards very large cities) which draws on ideas of city-led agglomeration economies (Lysgård, 2016; Mayes, 2010; Rantisi, Leslie, & Christopherson, 2006; Swords & Wray, 2010). Methodologies for measuring the CCIs, too, have been critiqued for lacking dynamism (Bakhshi, Freeman, & Higgs, 2013), and data on which policy is based is not as robust or revealing as it might be. Further, this way of thinking continues to instantiate an understanding of creative practice which far from collectivising or galvanising collaborative endeavours is ultimately individuated, and whose success is measured by the accumulation of wealth, prestige or market shares (Mould, 2015). This neoliberalising tendency needs to be further unpacked and addressed, not least because it does not necessarily represent the intentions, values and aspirations of many at work in the sector.

These tensions have been thrown into sharp relief with the impact of COVID-19. Most of the sector has been shut down with livelihoods and careers threatened with a lack of work and inadequate government support for freelancers. Covid-19 has made visible many structural inequalities and underlying issues of precarity across the sector (Comunian and England, 2020). While many venues face closure and companies will go out of business, the most affected will be freelancers, with major implications for the diversity and inclusiveness of the sector. Finally, emerging discussion of recovery policies (in the UK) reproduce the longstanding discourse of economic growth, displaying an ongoing lack of “cultural imagination” (Banks, 2018), and have so far failed to fully engage into the debate for the need to “build back better”.

The need for the CCIs to respond to these challenges in progressive and sustainable ways has never been more important. The proposed sessions aim to push the boundaries of the CCIs to advance emerging (and long-held) debates and criticism in order to provide an account of alternative perspectives of the CCIs from a research and practice perspective. We would therefore welcome contributions from different countries and disciplinary areas. In particular, we aim to make more visible alternative narratives from and for the sector and question the connection with economic growth (Gross, Forthcoming). In doing so we welcome reflections on issues of sustainability, inclusivity as well as activism, care and access. 

These are some of themes we would like to engage with, but this list should not been seen as exhaustive: 

New theoretical approaches to the CCIs

Theorising the CCIs from beyond the ‘usual’ geographic locations

New methodological approaches to the CCIs

New / alternative narratives for and from the CCIs

Environmental crisis and the CCIs

Social sustainability and accessibility of CCI careers

Social economies and the CCIs

Care, activism and alternative work futures for the CCIs

Critical approaches to CCI policy formation, delivery and evaluation 

Seminar Format

We will run 6  online seminars across the Autumn/Winter( October 2020- March 2021)  centred on the themes outlined above. Each seminar will feature two presentations and a discussion. Presentations will be 15-20 minutes in length. If more papers and topics are identified, the seminar series might continue into the 2021. 

Each selected author/paper will also ask to share a 500 words blog post on our research blog on this site.   

Please send extended abstracts of 1000 words (max) to by end of day, 5pm on Monday 5th of October 2020.

Organisers (in alphabetical order):

  • Dr. Roberta Comunian, Culture, Media & Creative Industries, King’s College London
  • Dr. Jonathan Gross, Culture, Media & Creative Industries, King’s College London
  • Dr. Simon Moreton, Creative Economies Lab, UWE Bristol
  • Dr. Inge Panneels, Creative Informatics, Edinburgh Napier University
  • Dr. Rebecca Prescott, Northumbria University
  • Dr. Jon Swords, XR Stories, University of York

The special session builds on a range of projects involving the organisers:

Dr Comunian and Dr Gross are currently involved in a three-year H2020 funded project Developing Inclusive and Sustainable Creative Economies ( 

Dr Swords is part of XR Stories, one of the AHRC funded creative industries R&D clusters looking at the development of the futures of interactive and immersive storytelling, and the Screen Industries Growth Network, a Research England funded project aimed at fostering development of Yorkshire’s screen sectors.

Dr Moreton is Senior Research Fellow at the Digital Cultures Research Centre, UWE Bristol. He is Co-Investigator on the AHRC CICP funded Bristol+Bath Creative R+D Programme and works on a range of projects examining alternative ways of working in the creative sector.

Dr. Prescott is currently involved in the ESRC-funded More than Meanwhile project which aims to develop viable, innovative models for artist-run initiatives in the long-term that challenge the use of ‘meanwhile’ or short-term spaces for creative practitioners.

Dr. Inge Panneels is a Research Fellow on the Creative Informatics project at Edinburgh Napier University.


Aust, R. (2020) Care and cultures of television news production: the case of BBC Newsnight in Holdsworth, A., Lury, K. and Tweed, H. (eds) Discourses of Care: Care in Media, Medicine and Society. Bloomsbury: London.

Bakhshi, H., Freeman, A., & Higgs, P. (2013). A dynamic mapping of the UK’s creative industries. London: NESTA.

Banks, M., & O’Connor, J. (2017). Inside the whale (and how to get out of there): Moving on from two decades of creative industries research. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 20(6), 637-654. doi:10.1177/1367549417733002

Banks, M. (2018) Creative economies of tomorrow? Limits to growth and the uncertain future. Cultural Trends, 27 (5), 367-380. DOI: 10.1080/09548963.2018.1534720

Chapain, C., & Comunian, R. (2010). Enabling and inhibiting the creative economy: The role of the local and regional dimensions in England. Regional studies, 44(6), 717-734. 

Comunian, R. (2009). Questioning creative work as driver of economic development: the case of Newcastle-Gateshead. Creative Industries Journal, 2(1), 57-71. 

Roberta Comunian & Lauren England (2020) Creative and cultural work without filters: Covid-19 and exposed precarity in the creative economy, Cultural Trends, 29:2, 112-128, DOI: 10.1080/09548963.2020.1770577

Dent, T. (2019). Devalued women, valued men: motherhood, class and neoliberal feminism in the creative media industries. Media, Culture & Society, 0163443719876537. 

Desai, J. (2020) This work isn’t for us. Online.

Fahmi, F. Z., McCann, P., & Koster, S. (2015). Creative economy policy in developing countries: The case of Indonesia. Urban Studies, 54(6), 1367-1384. doi:10.1177/0042098015620529

Gross, J. (2020). The Birth of the Creative Industries Revisited: An Oral History of the 1998 DCMS Mapping Document. London: King’s College London. 

Gross, J. (Forthcoming). ‘Growth of What? New Narratives and Normative Commitments for the Creative Economy’. In R. Comunian (Ed.), A Modern Guide to the Creative Economy. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

Kong, L. (2005). The sociality of cultural industries. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 11(1), 61-76. doi:10.1080/10286630500067812

Kong, L., Gibson, C., Khoo, L. M., & Semple, A. L. (2006). Knowledges of the creative economy: Towards a relational geography of diffusion and adaptation in Asia. Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 47(2), 173-194. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8373.2006.00313.x

Lai Mohammed, A. (2017). Press Conference by Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on creative industry financing conference.: Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Nigeria Retrieved from

Lysgård, H. K. (2016). The ‘actually existing’ cultural policy and culture-led strategies of rural places and small towns. Journal of Rural Studies, 44, 1-11. doi:

Mayes, R. (2010). Postcards from Somewhere: ‘marginal’ cultural production, creativity and community. Australian Geographer, 41(1), 11-23. doi:10.1080/00049180903535535

Moreton, S. (2018). Contributing to the creative economy imaginary: universities and the creative sector. Cultural Trends, 27(5), 327-338. doi:10.1080/09548963.2018.1534575

Mould, O. (2015). Urban Subversion and the Creative City. London: Routledge.

Rantisi, N., Leslie, D., & Christopherson, S. (2006). Placing the Creative Economy: Scale, Politics, and the Material. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 38(10), 1789-1797. doi:10.1068/a39210

Restrepo, F. B., & Márquez, I. D. (2013). The Orange Economy – An Infinite Opportunity. Online: Inter-American Development Bank.

Swords, J., & Wray, F. (2010). The Connectivity of the Creative Industries in North East England – The Problems of Physical and Relational Distance. Local Economy, 25(4), 305-318. doi:10.1080/02690942.2010.498954

Walmsley, B. A. (2013). Whose value is it anyway? A neo-institutionalist approach to articulating and evaluating artistic value. Journal of Arts and Communities, 4(3), 199-215.

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