Interview of Vasif Eyvazzade, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Azerbaijan Creative Industries Federation to “Report” news agency:
– Today is the one year of the establishment of the Azerbaijan Creative Industries Federation. Why was there a need to create such an organization?
– First of all, let me say that September 21 is the day of the founding meeting of the Federation, and October 15 is the day of its establishment by official registration. Modern technological and innovative processes have led to the departure of each field from its classical framework and content. In other words, since very serious changes are taking place in the content, quality and framework of the economy, it is inevitable that these innovations will occur in the organization in this field as well.
If we consider the creative economy as a unified field of economy, creativity, culture, innovation and technology, then there was a need for an institutional mechanism that could establish a common platform for these fields. From this point of view, even though Azerbaijan Creative Industries Federation is a new concept for our country, the sectoral participants at its foundation represent both traditional creative and modern economic fields. In a word, coordination in the field of development of creative industries, management of international and local projects in this field, connecting individuals, companies and public organizations operating in the field of creativity with government agencies and business partners that regulate this field are the main activity directions of the Federation.
The establishment of the Federation is crucial for the realization of its top three priorities as dynamic, inclusive and social justice-based society and a competitive human capital and modern innovation space, a sustainable growing competitive economy of “Azerbaijan 2030: national priorities for social development” approved by the Decree of the President of Azerbaijan dated February 2, 2021. In this process, we have also set ourselves the goal of playing the role of partnership and create a common platform between government institutions responsible for economy, culture, education, urban planning, intellectual property, youth and sports, digital development, employment, non-governmental organizations that are formed and need to be formed in these fields, as well as private creative business structures.
You know that today everyone is talking about the 4th Industrial Revolution, the “smart” economy, the innovative or technological economy, the creative economy, the intelligence economy, the artificial intelligence economy, and we must admit that each of these are economic phenomena directly related to human intelligence, and the companies and players represented in these areas are the main stakeholders in the world economy. In this sense, we would like our country to be able to apply the best practices in this period of economic transformations.
– What is the share of the creative industry in Azerbaijan’s GDP at present? What should be done to increase the share of the creative industry in the economy?
– We must admit that currently, the lack of regular publication of comprehensive statistics on creative industries at the national level does not fully allow the measurement, monitoring and evaluation of development processes in this sector. Alongside with this, the absence or weakness of professional organizations and unions, trade associations in the field of creative industries in our country does not allow to obtain detailed statistical indicators and development data on the fields.
Systematic activities are needed to achieve comprehensive statistics on the sector. In particular, professional organizations should support the state in these matters, and the state, in turn, should increase support for the activities of professional organizations.
– In what way does the development of the creative industry lead to a change in ensuring people’s employment?
– In general, we are witnessing a serious quality and content change in the modern labor market. Already, a number of professions are leaving the market and being replaced by new professions, and this process directly affects educational processes. In this regard, it is necessary to carefully monitor the processes in the international labor market, and it is required to build future planning accordingly.
Looking at European statistics, between 2011 and 2017 creative employment increased by more than 800,000 in total, from 7,852 million to 8,658 million people. This has increased even more considering the changes and digital transformation of the last five years.
If we look at the national level, according to the last 2020 indicators of income and production, as well as employment in the fields of creative activity selected out from the classification document of the types of economic activity predetermined by the State Statistics Committee, 88,000 salaried people and individual entrepreneurs work in the fields of creative industries in our country. In 2021, their number reached 98,806 people. This figure is an indicator of creative activities and related economic activities. Here, if we add people working in creative professions in non-creative sectors, we can see an increase in employment indicators, as well as in GDP share and profitability indicators. In order for this to be possible, it is necessary to implement the practice of collecting statistics based on the international experience I mentioned above. In this case, it is necessary to develop national guidelines using international experience with the participation of relevant institutions. The other most important issue here is the transformation in the approach of modern youth. That is, young people all over the world have started to prefer freelance work. That is, they no longer offer their brains and services for a monthly fee, but for the time required for the service. The main reason for this is that young people build a new self-employment system in the labor market by supporting their creativity, intelligence and skills with modern technological tools. It is inevitable to consider this factor in the fields of economic policy and activity.
– What are the general advantages of developing the creative industry in Azerbaijan for the country’s economy?
– First, it will help to diversify the economy due to the individual intelligence, creativity and skills of people. Second, it will contribute to the enrichment of the content and quality of the economy. Third, it will encourage the building of a modern innovative and creative society. Fourth, it will reduce the dependence of people in the labor market on more state-provided employment offers, opening the way to the global labor market, eliminating the inefficient labor burden for the state, and increasing the inclination of people to creative and technological professions. Fifth, it will lead to ensuring the synergy of education, science and creativity with the economy and industry, thereby mutual benefit. The sixth will encourage rapid integration, promotion and partnership development of both the mentioned sector and other sectors of the economy in the international market with the support and participation of the participants of the creative economy. Seventh and most importantly, it will lead to the income diversification required to improve human well-being.
– Yesterday, at the international scientific-practical conference called “Economy of Culture in Azerbaijan: Development Impulses from Shusha”, opinions were expressed that there are creators in Azerbaijan, but there is no industry. What is your attitude to this issue?
– We absolutely do not agree with the opinion expressed at the conference, “We have creators, but there is no industry.” Because there are hundreds of taxpayers in our country: design and publishing companies, advertising and marketing companies, private film production and broadcasting companies, private cinemas, companies and individual entrepreneurs engaged in the sale of souvenirs, fashion products, artworks, music production and broadcasting companies, televisions, photo studios, bookstores and others, it means that we have creative industries.
There are simply no mechanisms that promote the development of this industry and make it a share in the economy. That is, all parties here should, after doing their homework in a timely manner, determine whether such considerations are necessary. Frankly speaking, we pay more attention to the transformation of words into action, and action into value, rather than fancy and catchy word expressions.
If we look at it in a broad perspective, the opinions of the relevant institutions of our state published in the press on the field both please us and give us hope that finally the field of creative industries, which our team has contributed to in the last 3-4 years, is now among the economic priorities of our country.
– Finally, what can you say about the work done by the Federation during this period and its future plans?
– Let me say that we started the official work in February of this year, and during this period, together with our state partners – SMBDA, the Ministry of Culture and the Copyright Agency, we organized a public discussion event with representatives of the creative industry on February 23, 2022, and with the Copyright Agency organized the event “Creative economy: innovations for the future” on April 26, held meetings with the officials of the Ministries of Culture, Digital Development and Transport, Education, Ecology and Natural Resources, Copyright Agency, SMBDA and State Tourism Agency, Vocational Education Agency, ABAD and other state institutions, as well as also held more than 30 meetings with the participation of heads of professional organizations and companies, as well as the British Council and a number of famous experts in London, and during this period more than 10 important projects and programs have been designed.
These projects covers areas such as the creation of the national talents bank of our country, the creation of data of the national creative-art potential throughout the country, the formation of the register data of the companies operating in the field of creative business and the electronic business platform, the support of the creation of non-governmental organizations that meet the modern requirements of the new industry in the creative fields, strengthening and facilitating the partnership platform of state institutions and companies representing the fields of the economy, culture, creativity, innovation, technology, intellectual property, ensuring clustering based on intelligence and traditional skills in the regions and forming creative centers, supporting national traditional crafts, promoting national creative potential and our heritage to international platforms facilitating access, forming education and training programs in line with modern changes in creative fields, etc. “Talents Azerbaijan”, “Heritage Azerbaijan”, “Masters of Azerbaijan”, “Creative Shusha”, “ArtSale Azerbaijan”, “CreaTalk” and a number of other projects have been developed and submitted to the relevant state authorities in the mentioned directions.