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Editorial: Art and culture shapes the future working life

| Berit Kvam

Working life is changing and improving constantly. The essence of art is to go beyond what is already there and point to something new. Can art and culture help innovation processes and the development of new jobs?

The EU Commission recently launched a strategy to speed up growth in the cultural and  creative sectors and to maximise their employment potential. Where art, business and technology meet, the cultural and creative sectors can make waves which create a spill-over into other sectors, the Commission says. Many signs point to this being an area of  growth. Things are afoot on a Nordic level too: the cultural and creative sectors can show the way out of the crisis, says the Nordic Council of Ministers' General Secretary Halldór Ásgrímsson.

People have been flocking to the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Contemporary Art which has just opened in Oslo. But art and culture showing the way in a new kind of working life has further implications than this. This month's theme for Nordic Labour Journal shows that businesses looking for creativity make use of the inherent possibilities of art and culture in completely new ways: ”When culture was presented as a strategic tool people laughed at me. Today no one is laughing," says Piritta Kantojärvi at the Finnish culture company Grape People. 

The example from Sweden shows that designers' products and processes can help make businesses more innovative and create more jobs. A quarter of working Icelanders already work in creative occupations. Culture is so important to the Icelandic national identity that the Icelanders themselves aren't aware of culture's strong position in society, says Professor Einarsson. 

What makes art art is that it creates something new, and the artist is always ahead of the pack, says Director Gunnar B. Kvaran at the Astrup Fearnley Museum in Oslo, and we need help to get to where the artist is. Perhaps this is the key to how to create waves by pushing art and culture forward. But is this the kind of push which is taking place? Can culture turn the downturn around?

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