Taking Matters Into Third Hands: Intermediaries and the Organization of the Creative Economy

Bas van Heur, Doreen Jakob

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


For the past 20 years researchers have been analysing the meaning, role and importance of the creative economy. It is heralded as a job and wealth creator and as a prominent tool for urban and regional revitalization. Whether one agrees with these assertions or not, the effectiveness and ethics of the creative economy will largely depend on the intermediaries that shape and regulate it. While much attention has been paid to the political projects that introduce a focus on the creative economy, less is known about the intermediaries that organize and govern it. When implementing dominant policy imaginaries, intermediaries translate and transform them in often unexpected ways.
Various intermediaries shaping the development of the creative economy can be identified. They range from arts and cultural councils, policy networks, economic development agencies, foundations and unions to artist collectives, cultural centres, creative industries incubators, festivals and tradeshows. Surely, some intermediaries have always influenced the production and consumption of creative commodities, but their aims and capacities for mediation seem to be changing. Prominent examples for this transformation are the political reshuffling of curated arts and cultural funding towards growth-driven creative economy subsidies and the development of high-profile cultural centres and festivals for economic and urban development purposes. Moreover, new communication technologies have given rise to new types of intermediaries like crowd-sourcing websites that mediate between producers and consumers of creative products and connect them in unparalleled ways. All these intermediaries are bound together by their critical involvement in and shaping of the production and consumption of creative goods and services.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-361
JournalRegional Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • creative industries
  • cultural industries
  • creative economy
  • urban studies
  • regional studies


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