In the last of our posts looking at the theme of Creative Practice and Copyright, Ealasaid Munro presents her meta-analysis of CREATe research into individual creators.
Project: Voices of CREATe
Investigator: Ealasaid Munro, University of Glasgow
What did your research aim to do?
In late 2015, I was asked to undertake a meta-analysis of CREATe-funded research concerning activities of individual creators. As with any dispersed research consortium, there had been limited opportunities to come together and discuss lines of congruence and divergence between individual projects, and the CREATe Directorate recognized that a meta-analysis would add value to the work that had already been done.
How did you do it?
I conducted a qualitative meta-analysis of published material supplied by work package leaders. I also conducted analysis of unpublished primary data supplied by work package leaders who felt able to share this material.
What are your key findings?
Despite 20 years of intervention on the part of government and policymakers, creative work is still precarious. More must be done to ensure that individual creators can continue to create, whilst also ‘living well’. This issue has been well-discussed of late in relation to companies such as Uber and Deliveroo, but to date little has been done – either on the part of government and policymakers, or via collective action – to engineer better job security and employment rights for creatives.
Voices challenged received wisdom regarding the primacy of intellectual property production as a measure of individual success, and as a driver of economic growth. There was a disconnect between how creatives understand IP (as the ‘embodiment of their creative identity’, as work package leaders Street and Phillips (2015: 6) put it) and how governments and policymakers understand it (as a series of discrete opportunities for income generation). I also found that as it stands, the law does not offer individual creators adequate protection against infringement.
What impact has your work had so far/what impact do you anticipate it will have?
The research was presented to an audience of academics, policymakers and individual creators at the CREATe Festival in June 2016.
Challenges encountered/Lessons learned
In the arts and humanities and social sciences, we are squeamish about giving up our qualitative date to secondary analysis. Voices demonstrates the value that can be added by having a third party conduct secondary analysis outside of the framing of the original funded project and it’s associated research questions.
Are there additional/new research questions still to be answered in this area?
Voices shows that it makes sense for research programmes such as CREATe to interrogate individuals’ creative careers, rather than focusing explicitly on creative businesses. Future research should examine how individual creators oscillate between earning from their individual IP-generating activities, work-for-hire, and salaried work. To then link creators’ career-building activities to different policy, legal and regulatory frameworks would enable critical engagement with the assumptions that underpin much academic research and policy thinking on the topic of the creative economy. In taking this approach, we can distinguish which policies actually help creators to make a living, rather than just assuming that policies that contribute to growth automatically help individual creators.
A further productive line of inquiry for future research would be to interrogate the disconnect between the academic and policy imaginary that suggests that technology has produced fundamental change across the creative economy, and how individual creators actually perceive of technology. It is necessary to ask ourselves, are we actually overstating the importance of technology for the functioning of the creative economy? Are we asking the right questions about technology when approaching individual creators?
How has your association with CREATe helped to take things forward?
This research could not have been done without the insights of the CREATe Directorate, and access to the CREATe network.
Find out more in the working paper: https://zenodo.org/record/55748/files/CREATe-Working-Paper-2016-06_final.pdf