Culture, Heritage and Diversity

Creating cultural capital 

Basic concepts

- Cultural Capital
- Creative Ecology
- Culture and Economy
- Cultural Diversity
- Creative Industries

Cultural Capital

The term speaks to the economic value of cultural creativity but, in equal measure, it insists that the cultural principles of intergenerational equity (sustainability) and diversity become fundamental principles governing cultural production, in the context of the cultural economy.

The term 'cultural capital' (David Throsby: Economics and Culture, University of Cambridge Press, 2001, p. 19-58) is used to draw attention to the fact that the new cultural economy asks us to take account of the economic component in cultural production. The term is not intended to evoke the meaning of a cultural capital stock held by an individual, who has acquired a rich set of cultural competencies (Pierre Bourdieu: Forms of Capital, 1986). Rather, it emphasises the economic context within which the relations of cultural production are embedded. The term refers to both tangible forms of value (buildings, artworks etc.) and intangible forms of value (intellectual capital, ideas, concepts, beliefs etc.).

Creative Ecology

The Project promotes the idea of a 'creative ecology', which implies a respect for sustainable development in the baseline relationships around creative production and exchange.

Creative ecology (Tom Fleming introduced this term into the work of the project) refers to the overall 'system' and 'context' that is required for successful and sustainable creative industries development. Cultural producers do not operate in isolation. Rather, they develop their practice through relationships with others, with support providers, trainers, markets, consumers etc. The richer the assortment of relationships, the greater the opportunities to develop, both creatively and commercially. A creative ecology assumes these relationships will embrace both commercial profit and cooperative exchange, that as well as producing economic value, they will sustain intergenerational equity. The Creating cultural capital project works at the interface of culture and economy and will seek commercial support and will involve the private sector in its activities around cultural production. At the same time, because it is a cultural project, it will advance the principles of independent access, creativity and cooperative exchange.

Culture and Economy

The new economy has been called a cultural economy because its predominant form of value creation takes place in and around the cultural or creative industries. In the industrial economy, the raw resources of production are land, labour and capital. The essential raw resource of the new economy is information and its motor the information economy.

Unlike the material things, the consumer items with use value, which were products of the factory in the industrial economy; the creative industries produce meanings about things. From the densely patterned tapestry of information, which defines our modern world, the creative industries cut and select and create chunks of meaning. These chunks of meaning inform, entertain, create desire, and influence choice and action. It is not so much the form or package of the product, which we purchase now: the dress, the table, the reel of film, but the meaning they contain about fashion about design about passion.

Cultural Diversity

Cultural diversity is at risk in the new economy. Because concepts, ideas and lifestyles drive the engine of this economy, there is a danger that only certain concepts, ideas and lifestyles will monopolise the cultural landscape if the biggest players dominate access to the market. Smaller, local cultural producers can and do develop independent concepts, ideas and lifestyles which challenge the predominant culture and represent culturally diverse alternatives.  But this type of diversity in cultural offer can be blocked because smaller cultural producers don't have independent access to the market.

Creative Industries

The creative industries are, in the popular definition of the term, "those activities which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property", according to the UK government’s Department of Culture Media and Sports (DCMS) definition, but widely endorsed.

These sectors are generally agreed to include:

  • design
  • film, video, new media
  • leisure software / computer games
  • TV, radio and internet broadcasting
  • advertising, architecture
  • music
  • publishing
  • visual arts & crafts


Creative industries are based on "individuals with creative arts skills in alliance with managers and technologists making marketable products whose economic value lies in their cultural (or 'intellectual') properties".

Creative industries have a very strong economic impact. Cultural products, cultural skills, especially those engaged with contemporary culture, are not only assets in their own right, but also a country's single most important economic resource. Micro-businesses are the growth sector of the cultural economy across Europe and they have a key role to play in assisting in development of regional and national economies.