Leif Pagrotsky on the Creative Class

Question: Does a strong welfare state foster creativity?

Pagrotsky: It can contribute… It doesn’t lead to it, but it can contribute. I think that people who suffer from fear are not so, it’s not easy to expect them to be very bold, very creative, to try new things, and I think our system promotes creativity. It could do it better. It could be improved further, but I think Florida has a very good point. Also, in combination with other things that he points out: tolerance, pluralism, easy to listen to many voices, openness to international influences, awareness of what’s going on in South East Asia, in California, in Southern Europe, neighboring countries of course adds to the pool of ideas that is brewing at a particular point of time, and education, linguistic skills, internet penetration, those things add to this, but fundamentally I think Professor Florida is very much to the point. As a Minister for Trade, I was in charge of export promotion as well, not only, well, trade policies but also to defend Sweden’s corporations, small companies, their access to markets and things. And when I took office in 1997, I noticed that almost all activities we had were aimed at the very big companies: steel, paper, products made of steel like cars and trucks, and very little were aimed at services. Very little were aimed at small companies. Although some of them were very successful, very outward looking, and there is actually almost no sector in the Swedish economy that has been so good at taking on board influences from immigrants, from young people, from foreign countries as the music industry, but they are fragmented. They are very small, financially very weak. They are product based in the sense that they are focused entirely on the artistic side and not very well developed when it comes to marketing and reaching outside the boarders. I took this as one of my responsibilities to do something about it, not only from music.

Leif Pagrotsky describes the conditions for a fertile creative class.

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