The importance of the Creative Industries

A word or two about Denmark

I live in New York City.  Soon, I’ll be returning to Copenhagen.  I don’t have a specific date, but I have no doubt it will happen. I have fallen intractably in love with the entire country of Denmark.  I love every visit.  Maybe it’s because of what Denmark stands for — and the fact that it is a country imbued with a creative spirit.  This creative spirit addresses human needs in simple, beautiful ways.  It’s the same spirit that can be found in the design of Danish buildings, public spaces, furniture, renewable energy solutions and much more.  Even the unique and lovely way Danes gather together – “hygge” – reflects a country driven by a will to innovate its way toward satisfying basic needs, including the gathering of friends.

I got to know this country soon after Rufus Gifford became U.S. Ambassador to Denmark.  He and his husband Stephen DeVincent moved to Copenhagen in 2013, and I soon became a frequent guest of theirs.  With each visit, I was moved and inspired by the city’s creativity and innovation.  With every descent into the airport, I could see the massive windmills along the coast, monuments to Denmark’s pioneering work in wind energy.  I saw how restaurant food had become an art form – a completely transformative experience.  And then there’s the architecture – both sublime and nuanced. I witnessed how the incredible work of architecture firms Henning Larsen and BIG — Bjarke Ingels Group were changing the cityscape, creating a new golden age in Danish architecture.  (And I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that I would never leave Copenhagen without a gift for myself from designer companies Georg Jensen or Royal Copenhagen.)

That love of mine has been roundly rewarded. I have become more closely tied to the country in both formal and informal ways.  Most notably, about four years ago I was invited to be a Global Juror for the Creative Business Cup (CBC) Finals. CBC recognizes and supports creative and innovative entrepreneurs around the world, strengthening their contribution to innovation in business and society.  Of course, I would have accepted any invitation to return to Denmark, but this invitation truly resonated with me because of CBC’s mission.

The work of CBC supports creativity and innovation, which have long been forces for good in addressing human needs, ranging from pure, applied art that calms the soul to complex technological innovations that seek to reverse climate change.  CBC seeks to recognize creativity and innovation in all of its guises – and its mission offers profoundly positive global impact.

And CBC supports job development and economic growth.  While I had always believed that the creative industries were an engine to economic growth because of the jobs that successful entrepreneurs could generate, I was pleased by a report published earlier this year by the United Nations Development Programme that went even further: “Cultural and creative industries, which include arts and crafts, advertising, design, entertainment, architecture, books, media and software, have become a vital force in accelerating human development. They empower people to take ownership of their own development and stimulate the innovation that can drive inclusive sustainable growth. If well-nurtured, the creative economy can be a source of structural economic transformation, socio-economic progress, job creation and innovation while contributing to social inclusion and sustainable human development.”

Don’t underestimate the importance of CBC or entrepreneurs in the creative industries. These entrepreneurs not only have the potential to address some of mankind’s basic needs, but they can do it while fueling economies on a global scale.