– Development and Process –

Signposts to a Sound Post-COVID-19 Economy:
Dynamic, Sustainable, Interactive

One term in particular caused a stir when the COVID-19 pandemic gradually brought almost all public life to a standstill in the spring of 2020: system relevance. Systemically relevant sections of society and activities, it was said, should be kept running at all costs with the fewest restrictions possible. And so, in addition to healthcare, attention was focused on sectors such as energy supply, water and waste management, IT services and administration, education and transport but, above all, on food supply and medical support. There is no question that there were good reasons for these decisions. However, industries and sectors that focus on a society’s future viability – and thus ensure its continued existence and positive future development – were somewhat overlooked in the process. Future viability, as scientists are not alone in saying, is based on innovation – and innovation is the result of creativity. The creative industries are therefore also systemically relevant – perhaps not at first glance but certainly at a second.


Creative Industries Shape the City and the Region

The creative industries are made up of innovative minds from design, visual arts and music, the digital economy and software development, film and media production, architecture, communications and journalism. Creatives engage in a wide variety of activities, yet, at their core, they have something in common because they all produce cultural, idealistic value. Be it the dissection of everyday life or tinkering with micro-details, they all develop visions, seek solutions to current challenges and problems. Creative minds stand for diversity and flexibility, for a continuous social innovation. At the same time, they represent the dynamics of an economy based on knowledge and innovation. In other words: creative professionals are the link between all economic sectors; they provide impetus for a sustainable development and enable innovation in the first place.

Frankfurt am Main, the financial metropolis and transportation hub in the heart of Europe, is one of Germany’s leading creative locations, with a particularly cosmopolitan character. And at the same time, it is especially versatile, and extremely dynamic. Here, leading German daily newspapers are published and globally successful computer games are developed. It is here that renowned theatres annually win important awards and where spectacular advertising campaigns are created. Frankfurt was the capital of jazz and the nucleus of the techno scene, and the city also sets valuable accents when it comes to sustainability. There is a good reason why Frankfurt was one of the final three cities in the competition for the “Green Capital of Europe 2014.” There is no question about it: the creative economy is shaping the city and the region with its work – socially, economically, culturally.


Creative Industries in the Wake of Megatrends

With their specific strengths, Frankfurt and the Rhine-Main region have excellently mastered the challenges of recent years. Yet, what challenges are we talking about here? The 21st century is characterised by megatrends – dynamics that affect all levels of society, in business and science, in technology, culture and politics, and even in everyone. We are talking about knowledge culture, globalisation and urbanisation, individualisation and connectivity, gender shift, mobility, New Work. Frankfurt, as the metropolis by the Main has always been able to react to this and has reinvented itself time and again – as evidenced not least by its efforts to become a FinTech location and its current digitisation strategy. Yet now another radical process of change has been set in motion by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting global economic crisis. Once again, the crisis is forcing people to rethink, perhaps even to think in a completely new way – to evaluate and adapt, to try new ways. Once again, the ability to change is called for – an indispensable quality if people, systems and cities are to develop further. There is one motor for innovation and change: creativity. The necessary adjustments to the effects of the crisis and a renewal of the previous economic system can take place through creative impulses.

All of this means: in securing the Frankfurt’s future as a (business) location, the strong creative industries cannot be dispensed with. It is important to utilise the existing potential in this change management process – and at the same time to stabilise the ecosystem of the cultural and creative industries. Only this way can we master the economic and social transformation toward a post-COVID-19 economy. It is an undisputed fact that Frankfurt can change at its core. The city has the best prerequisites for acting as a real laboratory for the Next Economy, for making the Rhine-Main economic and living space attractive and sustainable. Which brings us to the Master Plan for the Creative Industries.


The Master Plan: Fields of Action – Recommendations for Action

In December 2019, even before the COVID-19 crisis, the first fields of action for the development of a Master Plan for the Creative Industries were identified at an expert kick-off meeting. Months later, three central fields of action were crystallised for the development of Frankfurt as a Creative City – and thus for the management of profound economic and social change processes:

Adaptive & Resilient Business Models

Its goal is to safeguard the existence of businesses and companies. This involves the development of a Next Economy of new business models and value chains, new networks and markets. It is about collaborative forms of enterprise, unconventional financing and participation models as well as technical and non-technical innovations.

(Creative) Spaces

The goal in this field of action is the creative space and neighbourhood development, the creation of spaces for opportunities. This involves experimental labs, in which solutions for current social and economic challenges are developed.


The aim here is to create added value through a physical and digital network of all creative players and institutions for strong regional and international alliances.

The three strategic fields of action Resilience, (Creative) Spaces and Networks will not be looked at separately in the Master Plan for the Creative Industries, instead they respond to global economic and climate crises, to the general developments and the digital transformation. They focus on those megatrends that influence the creative industries the most – urbanisation, neo-ecology, knowledge culture, connectivity, globalisation and New Work.

Each field of action is first outlined and analysed – followed by recommendations for action. These are formulated under consideration of

  • the current economic development (COVID-19 crisis),
  • the European Green Deal set by the European Commission (climate crisis) as well as
  • the Sustainable Development Goals/SDGs and the 2030 Agenda set by the UN.

Sustainable development serves Frankfurt’s continuous optimisation, to further become a location that aims at a modern, resource-efficient, competitive economy and improves the quality of life for all those who work and live here. The basis of which are the closed-loop economy, the protection of the natural environment and the encouragement of social justice.

During the subsequent development and planning phase, these recommendations for action must be evaluated in terms of specific framework conditions and content priorities for the European Commission’s upcoming 2021–2027 funding period to identify funding options and instruments at an early stage.


A Dynamic Process with Lighthouse Projects

It must be noted that the Master Plan for the Creative Industries 2021–2026 does not give finished solutions but should be understood as a creative process. It is intentionally designed to be continually reviewed, adapted, readjusted and developed further. It is based not only on close observations of macroeconomic and social developments but also on ongoing discussions and exchanges with the entire cultural and creative industries in Frankfurt and the Rhine-Main region.

Additionally, the Master Plan’s identified fields of action are illustrated by lighthouse projects with a high signal effect. These radiate out into other economic sectors and into the (international) public sphere. They boost not only Frankfurt’s creative industries but the city’s economy. They also set standards in terms of innovation and uniqueness 


The Master Plan process is being coordinated and communicated by the Frankfurt Office of Economic Development. The aim is to make the industry visible and to highlight its benefits and value for the urban community and its (continued) economic development.