Promote the creative economy and local productive arrangements

In a country so small and so well connected by means of communication, we can all benefit from everything and this reciprocity in the age of networks is an advantage that we are not yet fully aware of.

Giving continuity to my last article on the art and culture of a desired-territory, and taking advantage of the recent publication of the Promove Program, which supports projects and ideas that aim to boost the interior of Portugal, I would like to take the opportunity to make a few more considerations regarding the creative economy strategies and development of the interior territories.

What do initiatives as diverse as the heritage itineraries organized by the company SPIRA, the Iberian Cultural Heritage Biennial, organized by the same company in partnership with other entities, the cultural programs of the ARTEMREDE association, the Vila Nova de Cerveira, the Terras Sem Sombra Festival, in Alentejo, the Experimenta-Landscape itineraries of public art, in Pinhal Interior, the numerous museums and contemporary art centers opened throughout the country in recent years, the Festivals and Literary Itineraries in various municipalities. of the country, the Festas do Povo de Campo Maior and the Festa das Ruas Floridas do Redondo, the initiative A Territory to Discover - Cork Oak and Cork forests, the numerous rehabilitation and restoration works of cultural heritage, the Unesco names, the networks of creative cities and the European capitals of culture, among many other manifestations?

All of them are distinctive signs and creative elements of a territory, however, many of them lack network intensity and productive connection, national and international visibility and projection, the muscle and flexibility of multilevel governance, but, above all, strategic thinking and action. capable of using these creative resources to produce specific value and their own brands and then transfer and add this value and wealth to products, economic sectors and local and regional production arrangements, receiving in reciprocity collaboration, sponsorship and participatory financing of these economic activities.

I give a simple example from a local reality of the interior: how the extraordinary colored panels of the Museu do Azulejo de Estremoz, together with the marble stone arts of the municipality and the well-known artisanal dolls of Estremoz, can be designed and incorporated as icons and territorial brands in the traditional agricultural products of Alto Alentejo and in new local productive arrangements, making this entire sub-region evolve into a "terroir" of international reputation and visitation?

We know that, in our territories, there is already, in variable doses, a creative triangle that must be promoted and put into practice. This creative triangle has, in the first vertex, Heritage and Landscape, in the second, Science and Technology, in the third, Art and Culture.

Heritage and landscape define, in a way, the ethical-normative limits of our action in terms of fundamental resources, through a planning policy, but they are, at the same time, a source of creativity, not only because the heritage , our historical memory, delves deeply into the long time of our existence, but also because its numerous distinctive signs expand our horizon of hope and our creative freedom about the near future.

This creative freedom is also transposed to science and technology that update and certify our passage through the present time and open the field of possibilities to the various scenarios present.

In this field, it is imperative that research centres, centers of living science and interpretation centres, but also artisanal arts and crafts networks and business associations, are able to find the networking more appropriate to its concrete performance, with a view to generating its own value and access to industrial and intellectual property rights, but also the symbolic and reputational value that can be transferred to the economic ranks and regional productive arrangements.

Science and technology can, for example, bring a local endemism, a lost seed or a circular technology to the order of the day, converting these distinctive signs into icons of local society and helping local productive arrangements to more easily project brands and you terroirs.

As for art and culture, just remember the creative freedom of SPIRA itineraries – Fresco Route (sacred art), Montado Route (natural heritage), Marble Route (industrial heritage), Pica-choriço Route (smuggling, cultural heritage ) – which bring together 21 Alentejo municipalities and are part of the Rota dos Compadres brand.

Other examples can be incorporated into more collaborative network-intensive strategies and well-orchestrated digital marketing operations, for example around geographical indications of provenance (PGI), protected designations of origin (PDO), collective marks (MC), or in the specific productive arrangements of natural parks, geoparks and thermal areas, and of certain tourist destinations and places of worship and pilgrimage.

This territorial trademark policy, however, needs to meet certain requirements to be successful. First, the network-intensity of policy measures; this operational objective can only be achieved within the framework of an integrated regional development program where inter-municipal, inter-sectoral, inter-regional and cross-border relations are clearly expressed and are proactively promoted.

Secondly, the creation and action of a dedicated actor-network whose fundamental mission is, precisely, the effectiveness, efficiency, equity and effectiveness of the measures of the integrated development program; only in this way is it possible to achieve the economies of scale and the muscle needed for broad spectrum multilevel management.

Thirdly, networking appropriate to the mission of the actor-network, for example, its integration into European networks of UNESCO, the Council of Europe or the European Union and, from there, providing an international program that is able to attract young people. talent from all fields in close association with national science and research, arts and culture programmes; it is within the scope of this creative economy program that some of the territorial brand proposals will be forged and tested.

Fourth, the actor-network's community commitment to innovative participatory financing or crowdfunding experiences is fundamental; if this involvement/recognition is successful, we will have gathered the necessary conditions to test new innovative practices of territorial branding and value transfer and, consequently, obtained new modalities of corporate and social sponsorship of artistic and cultural activities in conditions of greater reciprocity.


Final Notes

In such a small country and so well interconnected by means of communication, we can all benefit from everything and this reciprocity in the age of networks is an advantage that we are still not fully aware of.

Now, getting the benefit of this systemic effect is part of the creative economy, through network and agglomeration economies, which combine creative factors with the productive factors of the ranks, arrangements and value chains, in particular, those that have a geographical indication and denomination. of origin and, also, productions originating in protected landscape areas, geoparks, tourist amenities or thermal areas.

Furthermore, the association between public art, landscape arts and digital arts is, nowadays, a source of enormous creativity for the multi-product arrangements of the territory. This economy of creative and productive arrangements can open up a horizon of possibilities and expand the economy of the territories, as well as the quality of life in remote places in the interior.


Author António Covas is a Retired Full Professor at the University of Algarve