MEP Martina Dlabajová has been focusing on the support of cultural and creative industries and has participated in a number of successful international projects. Last fall, for example, she initiated the conference High Level: The Future of the Cultural and Creative Industries in Europe in Brussels where we met her for the following interview. The conference addressed topics such as the support of SMEs, copyright, creativity and future talents.
- What are the goals of your group for cultural and creative industries founded on the basis of your initiative in the EP?
One of the primary goals of our parliamentary intergroup for cultural and creative industries is to support the culture of EU member states. Our intergroup’s programme addresses copyright as well as the support of creative start-ups, development of creativity in education and searching for opportunities to secure and develop European cultural heritage for future generations. Among other things, our intergroup also tries to find new approaches to funding European businessmen and asses the effects of support programmes such as Horizon 2020 and Creative Europe.
- What is the position of cultural and creative industries in EU?
Today’s globalized world sees cultural and creative industries as a driving force of economic growth as the results of recent studies prove. Creative industries contribute more than 550 billion EUR to the EU GDP, create more than 8 million jobs and also constitute 4,2 % of the EU’s overall export. This sector is in fact the third biggest employer right after construction and food industry. Its uniqueness is that it can rely on a virtually unlimited resource – the human creativity. Creative industries have therefore a huge potential and an undisputable advantage. That provides a stable background for fighting economic recession and even boosting economic recovery. In spite of the recent crisis, employment rate in the cultural and creative industries showed a year-on-year growth of 0,7 % while the overall employment rate in the EU decreased by the same number.
- Which EU countries excel and what strategy do they have?
The strategy of success is easy. Only such fields can be successful, that are innovative and innovation is closely connected to the human ability of creative thinking. But in most cases, such ability is not enough to succeed. Equally important are experiences and the motivation to stand up to challenges.
In this respect, the best countries are the Northern countries and also Austria, Germany and the Benelux countries. As far as design in concerned, we cannot forget Italy. These countries have built a whole knowledge- and creative-based industry. They apply brand new work procedures, build know-how, create tailored solutions and new designs and succeed in granting and selling patents and licences.
- What steps would you as MEP deem necessary in order to increase the efficiency of cultural and creative industries in the Czech Republic?
The problem is that the Czech Republic does not see cultural and creative industries as important economic sectors and most people ignore their huge potential. It is necessary to increase the awareness of this sector and all its possible contributions to the Czech economy in the first place. We also need more political will to create and maintain strategic partnerships. If a country does not take care of its culture and respond to its needs, it will rob itself of incredible opportunities stemming from this field and in the worst case scenario „exterminate“ it.
It is necessary to introduce a new legal framework for the support of creative industries. This framework’s main aim will be to motivate subjects to further creative activities. It needs to be clearly defined and its occurrence (activities) both on the national and local level mapped in order to identify the needs of the given community. Familiarity with these communities and their needs is of crucial importance if we want to make a difference – we can try to persuade politicians, authorities, attract investors and widen the focus of structural funds.
- What do you do to support creative industries in the Czech Republic?
When I was the Chairwoman of the Zlín Regional Chamber of Commerce I initiated the pilot international project Quality mapping of Zlín and Zlín region which was later used as a basis for the programme of the Creative Zlín association. If I am to talk about my hometown, I need to mention that with our association Chateau Zlín we organise events to support young designers such as the Zlín Design Week (this year we organised its second edition). I am closely working with Czech filmmakers and the State Cinematography Fund and support for example the Zlín Film Festival, the biggest European festival of films for children.
- Your MEP office initiated the ambitious “Why not?” scholarship programme which aims to “interconnect Czech business against unemployment.” Are you successful?
The project was created a year ago and it tries to establish connections between young students and successful businessmen and make the students‘ professional dreams come true. Between January and September, the project helped 28 students. Their stories inspire young people to not be afraid and fight for their dreams and not give up their professional growth after school. For me, this is the biggest contribution of our project. Its ambition is not to systematically eradicate unemployment in the Czech Republic, we are aiming at motivation and positive role models. That’s why all the participants tell their stories on our blog at www.procbyne.cz. Currently, we are trying to find partners in other EU countries and expand the project. The first foray is a young viniculture student Albert who is now placed in the Italian region Friuli in the family company of Dario Guerra where he learns how to harvest, produce and sell quality wine.
- Animation is a well-established industry with a long tradition in the Czech Republic. But compared to the most developed markets in Europe, we seem to have missed the boat. What opportunities do you see regarding including animation in your „support“ activities?
As a part of the Why not? Project as well as other activates, I am ready to secure scholarships, exhibition and presentations for Czech animators. But it depends on them, what do they expect and with what will they come to me. Experiences from abroad are priceless as is the opportunity to work with the best during your studies. But young people cannot expect that the offers will come to them. Essential is personal motivation and endeavour to excel, look for your ways and face challenges.
- You have participated in a successful conference High Level: The Future of the Creative and Cultural Industries in Europe in Brussels. What did you achieve at the conference?
I am very proud that as a part of my panel, I have mediated meetings of experts from so many different fields. The panellists included for example the Policy Director of the English Premiere League, the German Vogue Editor-in-Chief and the Producer of the successful British TV Series Sherlock. The Czech Republic was represented by Mrs. Králová from the State Cinematography Fund and Mr. Vandas from MAUR Film.