There is no consistently recognised definition of the term ‘spillover’. Though the term is by no means new, its application to the arts, culture and creative industries is relatively recent. We are keenly aware of the perils the use of the term brings while being open to its potential to articulate values which we have continuously struggled to understand and / or describe. For this study though we have moved to build on what has been before and come up with a definition which meets the needs of artists, cultural organisations, creative businesses, policy-makers, funders and strategic bodies.

We understand spillover to be the process by which an activity in one area has a subsequent broader impact on places, society or the economy through the overflow of concepts, ideas, skills, knowledge and different types of capital. Spillovers can take place over varying timeframes and can be intentional or unintentional, planned or unplanned, direct or indirect, negative as well as positive. In this research context, we are interested in those spillover effects that arise as a consequence of investment by public or private stakeholders in the arts, culture and creative industries.

We refer to these as cultural and creative spillovers.

We therefore define cultural and creative spillover as the process by which activity in the arts, culture and creative industries has a subsequent broader impact on places, society or the economy through the overflow of concepts, ideas, skills, knowledge and different types of capital.




Below, you can find more information about the current understanding of spillover:

1) european centre for creative economy: "to be debated SPILLOVER" (2014)
In the first issue of the publication series “to be debated“ ecce approaches the need for discussion and research on the topic of spillover and publishes an article by the cultural scientist Dr. Jonathan Vickery, University of Warwick, which was written following the masterclass “Strengthening Culture in Urban Developments in Europe“ within the CATALYSE programme at the beginning of 2014. “Spillover might involve:
Complex interactions/effects/influences operating on different registers – not simply ‘cause effects’
A process of dialogue, interaction and engagement that might be place-specific or place sensitive or optimised by drawing on the resources of place and contributing to the broad economic development of place…
Crossing boundaries – informal as well as formal jurisdictions, questions of agency and legitimacy.” Download here

2) Nesta: Creative clusters and innovation (2010)
This report is an attempt to map the UK’s creative clusters, showing where they are, which sectors form them, and what their role is in the systems of innovation where they are embedded. It attempts to understand innovation spillovers from co-location of creative businesses into the wider economy. Download here.

3) KEA European Affairs: "The smart guide to creative spill-overs to assist cities implementing creative spill-overs" (2015)
Creative SpIN, an URBACT funded project (2012-2015) has released a guide called "The smart guide to creative spill-overs to assist cities implementing creative spill-overs" at the Creative SpIN final conference in Birmingham on 21 April 2015. The guide, aimed at City authorities, advises on the implementation of creative spill-overs strategy. It takes stock of the 3-year project in 8 European cities under the lead of Birmingham City Council. KEA at the launch of the URBACT Creative Spin project define “Creative Spill-over’ as:

“(A) process by which the interactions between artists, creative professionals and industries and/or cultural organisations contribute to economic and/or social innovation in other sectors of the economy or society. The spill-over process takes place when creativity originating from culture and creative professionals and industries influences innovation in sectors where culture and creative professionals do not usually evolve.”

As this project developed so too did the definition, broadening to include ‘positive externalities’ and not just innovation:

“Creative spill-over is defined as benefits arising from the activities of CCIs, including artists and creative professionals, which determine positive effects on other sectors of the economy or society. Those positive externalities result from processes through which culture-based creativity spreads out from the CCIs, across economic sectors and industries, thus contributing to innovation in the wider economy.”

Read the baseline research report (which includes a review of the existing knowledge, policy actions and the activity taken to stimulate spillovers at predominantly EU level) and download the smart guide here.

4) Frontier Economics: Creative Industry spillovers – understanding their impact on the wider economy
A Report Prepared for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in England, Frontier Economics developed the knowledge, product and network economic framework used by many in this area. Download here.

5) John Holden's criticism of the 'concentric circle' model of spillovers
Holden in his recent study on the Ecology of Culture (2015) takes the view that spillovers inadequately describe the processes at work within the creative ecology because:
‘the notion of spillover defines a cultural ‘expressive’ core that is then commercialised through the creative industries. As this report makes clear, no such division should be drawn – creativity and expression flourish throughout the cultural ecology and can be exploited for economic gain anywhere within it.' However his criticism of the term spillover is actually more of a criticism of the ‘concentric circle’ model of culture and the creative industries (adopted in the Work Foundation’s 2007 report) which placed artistic creators at the centre, with their creations spilling over into the creative industries and wider economy. Download here.

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