Last year, THE ARTS+ was launched as a new meeting place for the cultural and creative industries, and running parallel to Frankfurter Buchmesse. From 11 till 15 October 2017, it kicks off its second year – but we already spoke with Hendrik Hellige (Director Business Development Arts & Visual Culture) and Britta Friedrich (Programme Manager).


What does the Business Festival have to do with publishing and the Frankfurter Buchmesse? And what will attendees experience there this year?

Hendrik Hellige: I am relatively new to the Frankfurter Buchmesse team. I came from an international design publisher and in March of this year took on responsibility for all projects related to visual culture and children’s books. At the moment, I am working closely with THE ARTS+ team in preparation for this year’s presence. I see in this festival a logical extension of modern publishing – but expanded to include all cultural and creative industries.

THE ARTS+ follows an interdisciplinary approach

Britta Friedrich: THE ARTS+ follows an interdisciplinary approach. Our goal is to bring together all the creative industries on one platform – including design, art, architecture and culture, as well as publishing. The creative and cultural industries are seen as pioneers and innovators – reaching beyond their industry borders. They have social and economic importance. The aim of THE ARTS+ is to show how digitalisation and new technologies affect these industries. With companies such as Google Cultural Institute and small ground-breaking start-ups, we are observing the emergence of an avant-garde force, creating something new at the crossroads of creativity and technology – and releasing unimaginable potential. We want to give these innovations a stage. For us, it’s about the future and new business opportunities for the cultural and creative industries.

Is there any “internal” cohesion of this economic sector? Something which drives all creative and cultural industries?

HH: The eleven segments of the cultural and creative industries all differ greatly, but also have one thing in common. They are all about content. Whether architect, fashion designer, head of a collection or even publisher – they all create or curate unique content. This service represents a significant and valuable commodity that we can use even more effectively today thanks to new technologies and media. We want to break the boundaries of “traditional” ways of consuming content and point the way to new possibilities for their conveyance and thus pave the way for a commercial use.

BF:  Exactly, and that’s why the creation, production and evaluation of cultural content plays such an essential role at THE ARTS+ and the festival programme.

How does the programme for THE ARTS+ look this year?

BF: Thanks to digitalisation, any creative idea, any cultural asset, and any design can potentially become digital content which can be used in many different ways. This creates a completely new ecosystem with new structures, processes and possibilities of collaboration across industry borders. THE ARTS+ would like to help define the rules and legalities of this ecosystem. To this end, we invited pioneers of the industry, as well as politicians and stakeholders, to the festival on Wednesday. One focus will be the new business opportunities for creative and cultural companies. How can one effectively disprove the alleged contradiction between culture and entrepreneurship? And last but not least, we will dedicate ourselves to the monetisation of ideas and content – i.e. IP exploitation.

What role does technology play for the future of the cultural and creative sector?

HH:  Many topics that, today, seem futuristic and are barely noticed will become the industrial standards of tomorrow. Just look at the development of the music industry – in just 15 years we went from physical recordings to digital music files, and from file sharing to streaming, and these resulted in new revenue models. With the e-book, for example, the digitalisation of publishing is just beginning and still developing. The production, distribution and reception of a digital book remain similar to that of a printed book. However, the multi-media revaluation and exploitation of content in the form of licensed transactions can become even more refined for the publishing market – as well as for the other cultural and creative industries – in line with the evolution of the entire creative landscape.

the digitalisation of publishing is just beginning and still developing

BF: Yes. And these developments are unstoppable. Even today, there are bots, robots or computers that no longer only beat people in a game, but are also increasingly creative. The new geniuses of tomorrow are called (perhaps) E-David or Watson. They write, compose, or paint pictures. Just think of the project “THE NEXT REMBRANDT”, a picture that was calculated on the basis of data from Rembrandt by a computer and then realised using 3D technology. This project was already shown at THE ARTS+ in 2016 and this topic will be continued this year.

This applies mostly to the production of creative content. In what ways can the transmission of content be enriched multi-medially?

BF: Not only is creation increasingly technical. Also the reception of cultural concepts has reached a new level. Interaction and the merging of the virtual and the real world play a key role. Some museums already are using very particular technologies to convey their collections, which make the “classic” visit to museums an immersive event. The visitor dives right into the exhibition object – and almost always receive important background information. The identification and the experience are then enhanced. The Rjiksmuseum is certainly one of the pioneers, from which not only other museums but also publishers and media companies can learn.

What do these developments mean for the role of the museum visitor?

HH: At best, visitors to museums, exhibition spaces and galleries will become users of their content. The analogue perception is enriched by the digital, multi-media experience and sometimes even independent of time and location. This increases identification with the exhibition venue as a brand and can also be transferred to other branches of cultural and creative industries – as well as to the book market. Publishing houses are also increasingly becoming brands with their own resonance, captivating their customers with analogue and digital means, and becoming a part of their daily lives. Publishers become content curators. The publication products become multi-media carriers of attitudes and opinions – utopian places without space or time.

What technologies can be used to best implement these immersive approaches?

BF: New technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual, augmented or mixed reality create many possibilities for processing content. However, using them should not be an end in itself. It’s more about content and technology mutually reinforcing each other. And, to focus on the users and their needs.

With THE ARTS+, we want to actively promote the smart, sustainable use of creative content

HH: Yes, that is the challenge for all those who work with content. With THE ARTS+, we want to actively promote the smart, sustainable use of creative content. We want to bring people together, whose innovative spirit and expertise lead to new economically viable and fitting business models for the cultural and creative sector. And I am confident that THE ARTS+ as a creative hub will continue to establish itself as an important innovation and discussion platform.


The interview was conducted by Jördis Hille.