Igor Namakonov: The topic of creative industries is burrowing in the country

Last year, a new sectoral public organization appeared in Russia, covering huge segment not only of economic but also cultural life of the country — Federation of creative industries (FCI). Among the founders of FCI there are Russian Music Union, Moscow Art Theater named after Gorky, Association of Film and Television Producers, Russian Association of Animated Cinema, Association of Galleries, Union of Creative Clusters, All-Russian Society of Inventors and innovators, Russian Association of Electronic Communications, Association of Communication Agencies of Russia (ACAR), Association of Managers, Institute for Development of Fashion Industry Beinopen, international consulting company Squire Patton Boggs, Foundation of Creative Industries Support “Creative Practices”, Association of Rights Holders for Art Copyright Protection and Management (UPRAVIS) and IPChain Association. The famous economist Alexander Ausan, the dean of economics department of MSU is elected the president of federation.

Why this association arose and what are the development prospects of these industries, as well as how to launch a “creative economy,” we discuss with Director General of the Association Igor Namakonov. Igor Namakonov also acts as Executive Director of the RSPP Committee on Intellectual Property and Creative Industries.

Union of Creative Unions

— Igor, what, in fact, is the Federation of Creative Industries? How did it arise?

— The Federation is a union of unions. Its appearance is the natural result of market activities in 2020. The federation was established by organizations that represent the interests of different directions of creative industries.

But we do not deal with local problems of certain areas: architecture, theater or fashion. We are interested in cross-industrial tasks related to the development of market infrastructure, adjusting legislation, developing services and products that will be useful for the whole sector.

An example of such a project is the “Alarm Button” for the creative industries. At its core, this is a consultation centre to be used by any creative entrepreneur, faced with intellectual property protection problems. The project is being developed now by the GR and Law Committee. In total, we have seven areas of work, each of them being represented by a separate committee in the structure of the federation, and one of its members oversees it. The goal of this year is to launch one significant project within each committee.

— Besides “Alarm button,” what other important projects and initiatives is the federation developing?

— We continue the project 100 Most Creative Russians ( – top 100 creative leaders of Russia. A very important project for us to consolidate and popularize the sector. This year we went to the regions. The first region we explored is the Republic of Tatarstan. The results will be on the project website, you can subscribe to the newsletter – Negotiations with partners in Siberia, the Urals, Yakutia, the Far East and the Caucasus are underway.

The Federation, as a large industry association, occupies a strong negotiating position in dialogue with the state. We participate in government and expert discussions, directly making proposals to the plans for the implementation of strategic documents, we are seeking adjustments to the legislative framework. And also together with the Faculty of Economics of Moscow State University and Roskult we are preparing several comprehensive studies of the Russian creative market industries, as well as general criteria for assessing the effectiveness of the sector. Finally, active negotiations on the formation of a banking product for creative industries’ entrepreneurs are underway.

— Well, in general, how do you see the most important tasks of the federation?

— Now we work within the framework of committees, actively listen to the market, formulate approaches, building an action plan. Within a year, each committee will present the results of its work. A wide front of work for us is interaction with existing events and partners. On IPQuorum 2021: Tech for Content, we have a separate thematic block. W we are working with SPIEF right now, we will definitely participate in the Russian Creative Week. On EXPO 2020 in Dubai leitmotif of Russian pavilion were creative industries, and now we help The Ministry of Industry and Trade in the formation of a business program.

The theme of creative industries is popular in our country, there are a lot of incoming requests and proposals. The year of the creative economy is in full swing; we, on the one hand, hope to fix key directions for ourself and deal with them, but, on the other hand, 30% of time is devoted to unpredictable offers and requests. The whole market now is like one big startup. You need to stay flexible and attentive.

Creative part of GDP

— Now we are talking about creative industries as something obvious. But what definition could you give them? How would you define creative industries and their place in the Russian and world economy?

— There are different views on the meaning of the term. We finalized the following wording: creative industries are areas of activity in which companies, organizations, associations, individual entrepreneurs and self-employed citizens in the process of literary, artistic, scientific, technical and other types of creativity, cultural activity by means of capitalization, commercialization of intellectual property rights are producing products, goods and services of economic value.

We pay special attention to the topic of intellectual property in the federation. And this distinguishes us from other industry associations. We receive expertise on the topic from representatives of the IPChain Association, the Federation of Intellectual Property and UPRAVIS, which are also co-founders.

Regarding the place of creative industries in the world economy. The UN named 2021 Year of creative economy, Russia officially actively participates in the agenda. So you can safely say that the importance of human capital development is greater than ever, and the question is only in the creation of an institutional environment. As the chairman of the board of FCI Alexander Ausan says:

“The creative industries can become the subject of national pride.”

Of course, we are talking about the impact that it can have on the restart of the national economics.

— Shouldn’t you stop evaluating creative industries by their contribution to GDP?

— Market share in GDP is standard indicator. Another thing is how to count the percentage. Due to different approaches and often lack of reliable data today there are disagreements. Some give estimation of 2%, others – 4%, others – 6%. But you are right that you need to count not only contribution of creative industries in GDP: other – non-obvious – indicators of sector efficiency are needed. We are also actively working on this now.

The link between creativity and economics

— What is the Convention for the Development of the Creative Sector in Russia, which was mentioned at a recent meeting of your board?

— What we want to do nationwide requires the union of different forces. These forces are mainly agencies that have economic instruments and manage existing sectors. All creative industries are scattered in different departments. The Ministry of Industry and Trade is engaged in industrial design, the Ministry of Culture deals with cinema and animation, Minstroy is responsible of architecture, etc. Everybody needs a strategic layout that will allow participants of the process to unite around a common goal. Of course, no one plans to create a new ministry, it’s not needed.

But you need an operator who can coordinate efforts of different players. In the convention, all these interactions should be resolved nationwide. Adjustment will be possible, including through a single methodology of assessing and forecasting the effectiveness of creative industries. It should be a concise document that will allow everyone to come to a common understanding of what exactly can be done together and with what benefits, what contribution it will make to GDP and human capital development.

— What needs to be corrected in Russian economic policy to support creative industries?

— Today it is clear that the link between creativity and economy is intellectual property. That’s why it is necessary to proceed, adapting the Russian economic policy to the realities of post-industrial society. For example, our taxation system is focused on material production, where there are many employees performing standard operations by producing a unified product. In such a model, everything is easily calculated, expressed in specific numbers.

However, when we apply such approach to creative, intelligent production, for example, when we tax License agreements with the same value added tax as cigarettes supply contracts, we rather demotivate authors, we kill the initiative.

It is necessary to provide creative entrepreneurs and everyone who creates intangible assets, a kind of tax vacation. The state should give creative industries the opportunity live for a while in slightly lighter regulatory conditions. During this time, infrastructure will develop, new players will enter the arena, demand will form. Last issue is especially important.

Talking about the support of creators, we often forget about the second side: the consumer of creative products. He also needs to be supported: give him the opportunity to make a choice in favor of Russian design, Russian fashion, Russian architecture. We now have a huge share of imports, which puts domestic business in difficult conditions. For Russian creative entrepreneurs it is now often more profitable for to immediately enter foreign markets. Many technology solutions are immediately “customized” for China, America or the Middle East.

Rising living standards and increasing the purchasing power of the population need to be linked to popularization of Russian creative products in the mass market segment. Do you remember, in the 90s there was a “Buy Russian” campaign? After the USSR, people did not believe in domestic production and were so fond of made in USA labels that they had to be specifically reminded: our country also produces a lot of wonderful things. Today a negligible proportion of the population knows about the products of the same Russian designers, among them primarily regulars of creative spaces. The situation needs to be changed, this is a complex task. Not only those are important who comes up and produces, but also those who will buy all this.

Interviewed by Konstantin Frumkin

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