Innovation with purpose: Creative impact of the cultural and creative economies

In the CIRCE network, creative impact is understood to be the social impact produced by creative practices. At its core are social and sociotechnical innovations that are manifested in new products, services, business models or organisational forms. Creative impact enterprises are all about public purpose. Creative practices are not deployed for monetary gain, or at least not primarily, nor for artistic self-gratification, but with the aim of contributing to society. Such impact-oriented enterprises in the cultural and creative economy (CCE) are of particular relevance to cultural policy because they combine a commitment to public purpose, which characterizes the field of arts and culture, with economic sustainability efforts. By developing innovative self-sustaining organisational and business models, CCE enterprises also secure spaces for creative, cultural and artistic production that are independent of public funding, which is particularly important in view of shrinking cultural budgets and the rise of anti-democratic political forces.

Creative impact forms a specific segment within CCE but is not confined to particular sub-sectors of the industry. With their work, CCE enterprises generate creative impact. Furthermore, the idea of creative impact stimulates innovative activities across a variety of professional fields. Projects and activities in the CIRCE network vividly illustrate how creative impact inspires creatives in architecture and material design, publishing and filmmaking, games development and journalism. Creative impact enterprises also tend to create interfaces between the creative economies and other sectors and fields, especially those tackling social and societal challenges, e.g. public health, education or environmental protection. These enterprises also build bridges to professional arts and culture fields as well as to academic and applied research. In other words, creative impact engagement expands and transcends the boundaries of the CCE sector in various respects.

Creative impact enterprises showcase the CCE’s potential for innovation – not only within the sector, but also for society as a whole. CCE methods and perspectives become an engine for social and societal transformation. They demonstrate that the skills, capacities and organizational forms that characterise CCE are relevant not only to the sector itself but can also be deployed to tackle major societal problems and create more just and sustainable futures.