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The times we are going through feel intensely uncertain. Environmental uncertainties, economic turmoil, and geopolitical fragmentation are all signs of powerful forces pushing on these barren branches, carried by trees that look dead. But just like in the middle of the winter, when trees appear dead, such appearances can be misleading. Hidden in the cold ground and within these branches also lay dormant seeds and burgeons, just waiting for that signal to come out.

The seed that lay dormant in the ground and the burgeon in waiting during these winter months endures the rough surroundings and the bitter frost. For long weeks and months, they remain hidden and invisible to all until that indiscernible signal from nature. When that slight infinitesimal temperature shift occurs, that seed feels it from deep within its internal DNA, with a secret code triggered to wake up. The burgeon emerges frail and widely exposed to the surrounding aggressions of nature. Yet something happens very clearly. It’s just a matter of faith or belief.

So, where can we focus our hopes in these moments of uncertainty and gloom? Where are these seeds and burgeons in waiting? And let’s be clear that belief and faith in these dormant seeds and burgeons does not mean we are downplaying the challenges. Not at all; it’s just a matter of strengthening the determination and commitment to see through the dark clouds ahead of us.

Allow me to wander here. Here are just a few considerations that may look aimless and without purpose. However, they are a little more tangible and give us a chance to peek outside through the window. A peek that helps us realize how behind these gray and dark clouds, there is a sky, intensely blue and full of hope.

What you are about to hear may sound entirely off-topic, but this kind of lateral thinking widens our vision scope.

Indeed, in the last few weeks, I have been reading a report published by the UNCTAD, the UN organization in charge of trade and development on the topic of Cultural and Creative Industries.

You know, it’s that kind of report that looks intimidating and boring, filled with graphs and tables every other page, with lengthy introductions taking up to ⅓ of the information and pages of acknowledgments made of names that have very impressive professional and academic credentials from all around the world. You know that creating that kind of report took massive efforts from teams of experts scattered all around the world, with many countries and different languages involved.

So it’s more than a regular report, especially when you consider the topic involved in that report. To begin with, I browsed through it, especially paying particular attention to the structure of the outline. I do that when confronted with such a massive piece of work. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I use that trick that I learned from Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns; in their traditional learning, they pay a lot of emphasis on understanding the outlines of notable books, from the titles and colophon of the book to the different parts of the work, all the way down to the chapters, titles, subtitles, components, and subcomponents, They don’t start reading a book from A to Z in a linear fashion. Instead, they take a bird’s eye view of the work and learn it by heart. By familiarizing themselves with the whole structure of the book and memorizing it, they end up imbuing themselves with the logical flow of the work. As you may have suspected, this trick only applies to nonfiction. You cannot approach fiction similarly for reasons too obvious to explain.

Try it, and tell me how it works for you.

So for this particular report – “Creative Economy Outlook 2022; The International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development, Pathway to resilient creative industries.” – the narrative goes as follows, in short and simple sentences;

  • Up to recently, trade in the cultural and creative industries mainly took the form of physical goods. It was a trade dominated by China for exports and developed countries for imports. For services in the cultural and creative industries, the reverse was the norm, with developed countries mainly taking the share of the lion.
  • But with technology gaining further ground, this is changing. First, with the digital transformation of the whole industry, the share of services has exceeded physical goods since the mid-2010s. Developed countries are still leading the pack, but the distribution is much more diversified.
  • COVID-19 hit the whole industry quite hard, but it also rebounded nicely.
  • Finally, the new technological potentials are opening the door to yet-to-be-imagined vistas of innovation.

So, that’s what we can draw from that particular report. I am sure you will find a lot more from your reading, but for the present discussion, I prefer to provide you with the gist of it.

If you try to connect the dots, suddenly, you start to see a pattern. In the more industrialized countries, the great resignation has begun to see many professionals giving up on their career dreams. In the newly emerging countries, it’s the rise of new large cities with more educated and vibrant young professionals. It’s all happening while everyone is about to access these new technological developments even faster than thought. All of this is happening fast, in all kinds of directions, and a chaotic manner, making it increasingly challenging to fathom.

But after reading that technical report on Creative and Cultural Industries, I realized that the convergence of new technologies and the human creative potential we are all endowed with would produce an explosion of creativity and intellectual endeavors. Expect some creative and cultural “renaissance” from around the world. And here, I am using the word “renaissance” between quotation marks on purpose because it is a term always associated with the West. But worldwide, the rise of a middle class thirsty for connections with its deeper past converging with the new technologies of Web 3.0 will undoubtedly produce a wave of creative and cultural works at an unprecedented scale. Expect that wave to give a new meaning to the older expression “renaissance”.

These are the seeds waiting to emerge from deep in the ground.


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