Culture is not an industry

Reclaiming art and culture for the common good

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Justin O’Connor
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This book is about what happens when we turn culture into an industry, and how we can fix this. Culture is central to what it is to be human, to live in a social world. The key argument of the book is that culture, as an object of public policy, should be moved out of "industry" and back into the sphere of public responsibility alongside health, education, social welfare, and basic infrastructure. The book outlines the policy context for Chris Smith's adoption of "creative industries", a folding of art and popular culture into a dynamic new knowledge economy. It discusses the current situation of "polycrisis" as neoliberal capitalism gives way to a period of uncertainty and insecurity. The book confronts the common idea that culture is a luxury, something to be enjoyed after the essentials have been met. It outlines the Foundation Economy Collective's foundational approach, showing how it can be applied to the cultural sector. The book argues that any cultural policy must address both the small-scale local economies and the large-scale corporate cultural industries. It addresses the question of the everyday local economies of small and independent businesses. These were addressed by the Greater London Council, whose "SME approach" was very influential in New Labour's adoption of cultural and creative industries.

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