Why Frankfurter Buchmesse set up a trade fair for the creative industries, THE ARTS+ – and why the European perspective is so important.


Nina Klein, Associate Partner of the Frankfurt Book Fair, and THE ARTS+ founder Holger Volland are the brains (and hands!) behind the European perspective of THE ARTS+.


By Nina Klein & Holger Volland

Why would a book fair set up THE ARTS+, a think-tank and trade fair for the cultural & creative industries?

The reasons are simple. Here are just a few answers:

  • Because the Frankfurter Buchmesse is all about creating and trading content. It is the biggest trade fair in the world for rights & licences business, for co-production deals and for cooperation partnerships in publishing.


  • Because, like all trade fairs, book fairs are among the few players within their sector with a holistic view. It is naturally in their own interest to forecast new trends and to shape them. Trade fairs are motors of innovation.



  • Because publishing has always found itself between the stools of culture and business; it has always been driven by technology and framed by politics. This position at the intersection of culture, business, technology and politics is quite normal for publishing – and it is increasingly becoming the norm for the creative and cultural industries as a whole (though to differing degrees!)


  • Because digitization and new technologies, such as virtual reality, big data, artificial intelligence and 3-D printing, are a big levellers. This is not only true when you consider the so-called media convergence – which basically means that there are no longer any separate media; there is a digital interface, the screen. It is also true when you look at new business models. If everything that touches the web becomes content, how do we deal with intellectual property (IP)? Who owns the IP for 3-D-printed objects? (Indeed, the EU is currently running a tender for a study on this.) How do you identify new business models for a digital world – a world in which the value of content seems hard to protect, and is already in freefall? Are the only “new” revenue streams really just the sale of customer data and advertising space (in fact, these are rather old)? If content is now multimedia, and if it has to be available anywhere, at any time and on any device, because people like it that way, how do you cope as an artist or as an entrepreneur? If artificial intelligence is used to devise fantastic new educational resources, how do you teach the market to use those resources? If all these new technologies are out there, how do you adapt them to your own content, to your own company?


These questions show that new technologies are bringing together sectors that until recently were separate, because they open up new possibilities to explore things, and new barriers to overcome. That’s why “cultural and creative industries”, which was once just a dry phrase used by politicians and bureaucrats (albeit, with a fair amount of vision!) now describes a tangible reality.

This isn’t yet true for all the players all of the time, in all of the eleven sectors which officially comprise the “creative industries”. But it is true for those who work and act at the intersections of these sectors, at the intersections of culture, business and technology – in short: for the pioneers and the oddballs. THE ARTS+ demands we “be bold”, because it’s at these intersections that we can see the development of a new ecosystem of the creative and cultural industries.

And what about the national frontiers? This is where the European perspective of THE ARTS+ comes in. After all, this new ecosystem is international at heart. New technologies don’t stop at national borders. On the contrary, they make content fly, which is why the European Union has come up with concepts such as the Digital Single Market initiative. Of course, Europe is not the world, but we have to start somewhere… and a European digital single market seems like a good enough place.

Now the equation looks like this: CCI = culture + business + technology + politics. Policies and politics have a huge influence on the CCI, not least because these sectors are so close to the public interest. (Think of journalism as the fourth estate, of books for education and science; think of films, games and design … and you’re thinking of culture!) This high level of interest translates into lots of regulations (think copyright!), but it’s also inspiring efforts to support technologically triggered innovation in the CCI – both nationally and at the EU level.

The sky’s the limit (in theory at least). Building skills and competences; establishing networks and knowledge exchange; providing funding and supporting financing; infrastructure building; standardization initiatives; incubators and accelerators for CCI players; internationalization and marketing, tax incentives: all these and more are possible measures for innovation support. Yet these measures – and the wider awareness of their existence, and of their relevance to the CCI – are still in the bud. Like the whole ecosystem of THE ARTS+, they are just waiting to flower.

So it is to make “policy” a more central part of the CCI equation that we are launching THE ARTS+ Innovation Summit this year (Wednesday 11 October).

We invite you to experience the European perspective of THE ARTS+ with us. Take a look at the programme!

Read also:

THE ARTS+ Innovation Summit


ALDUS is the European Book Fairs’ network, fostering transnational mobility of European literary works and book professionals through joint events, dedicated networking and training activities. By experimenting with new interactive and engaging events formats ALDUS aims at building capacities in the areas of internationalization, translation, digital shift and audience development, helping book professionals to develop their careers internationally. The partnership features two leading international trade book fairs (Frankfurt and Bologna) and a rich variety of national book fairs (Rome, Vilnius, Riga, Lisbon and Bucharest). The network will be increasingly developed throughout the project to reach a pan-European level. Aldus is a project co-funded by the European Union under the Creative Europe programme; it will run from June 2016 to September 2019.


THE ARTS+ is organised as part of ALDUS – European Book Fairs’ Network, and is co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union