No. 28



Creativity and Cultural Policy

19 December 2013


RiTo No. 28, 2013

Culture as a purposeful coordinated joint activity surrounds us everywhere and it is difficult to find in any human community something which would not constitute culture or have no relation to it.

There is a huge multitude of different cultures. Based on the definition of cultural space on the social level, we propose that culture is an environment where a certain human community functions, be it based on ethnicity, state, ideology or something else. National culture is the optimum means for a geographically-historically positioned human community to synchronise with its given environment, and this means cannot be transplanted from one environment to another without losses. There is a number of ideologies that belittle national cultural efforts, calling these provincial narrow-mindedness or nazi narcissism. A counter-argument to such views is the requirement of diversity known in ecology. If the biodiversity of an ecosystem falls below critical, the whole system crumbles.

From a state’s point of view, culture is defined as a creative and educative spark in human activities. These are fine arts, science and popular education – direct fundamental activities whose coordination is the duty of relevant ministries in most countries and for which the society allocates means in the form of taxes through the state treasury or as direct donations. These fields could not cope without subsidies – not because they do not create additional values, but because the additional values reach the consumers via a very long and muddled route. Creativity and culture are based on common activities that surpass the individual; it is a rhizomatous network whose support structures must first and foremost take care of the whole.

The political rhetoric of the past decades present culture as an ambitious pauper hanging at the purse strings of the tax payer, a luxury goods that can be afforded only when the more pressing needs are satisfied. We argue that it is far from the reality. This is also the opinion of the European Commission who declares that „Creativity is the basis for social and technological innovation, and therefore an important driver of growth, competitiveness and jobs in the EU”. Culture is a primary source of social initiative in the society, an economic lever that functions very slowly but also very surely. It is a costly but unavoidable investment.

In order for the cultural aids to be reasonable and justified, we need a clear and transparent subsidisation system which should be based on a national cultural policy that takes into account the interests of all the parties. What we most expect from cultural policy is a vision for the future, a philosophical treatment of culture, which will hopefully lead us to a more inspiring and balanced society. The analysis of the most recent cultural policy development plans and draft acts unfortunately shows us that the government has nothing like that to offer. The article analyses several problems of contemporary Estonian culture from the perspective of fine arts, humanities, positioning of the creative individual, creative economy and many other cultural issues.

Full article in Estonian