“Cultural-“ and “creative economies” are a beacon of hope in current political models, particularly in a city like Berlin, with its wealth of creative minds and artists. The terminology suggests a merging of “culture” and “commerce”. Nevertheless, the ferocity of the current German debates surrounding copyright law and GEMA tariff reforms only attests to how deep the chasms between culture and business, between artists, digitally empowered users, exploiters and intermediaries tend to be – and how contradictory some of these positions really are.
Inherent to the notions of “culture” and “economy” is a confrontation between “community spirit” versus “individual interests”, where the two have to be brought into balance. In essence, it can be traced back to the complex question as to how we perceive social and private responsibilities. Where are which forms of arts and culture more likely to flourish? Where do we want momentum and where do we build a haven? Is creativity the result of collective processes or individual subjects? How do we measure success?
Both culture and business should be judged by their contribution to the common good. The challenge would then be to find positive gains between culture and commerce, artist subsidies and promotion of the cultural sector and to translate these into a sensible policy without cynical exploitation.
Wherever culture is forced to emphasize its economic contribution to secure the necessary weight in the political area, and wherever business can avail itself of the idea of publicly-protected culture for the sake of privileges and subsidies, then what can easily occur is a comprehensive commoditisation of culture, and not a culturalisation of commerce. To avoid these kinds of unbalanced, co-opted scenarios and succeed in creating a truly productive synergy between the two fields, the first step would be to reinstate the once-lost differentiations. With a series of presentations and lectures, the Denkfabrik intends to start putting this plan into action. -Jan Rohlf, CTM Festival