FRANKFURT. CREATIVE CITY.

The Master Plan for the Creative Industries – an Instigation for Frankfurt as a Business Location

Markus Frank
Former City Councillor of  Economic Affairs (2009-2021) 

City of Frankfurt am Main

Frankfurt am Main appreciates its creative minds. Just as it appreciates the enormous part they play on a daily basis by putting their heart and soul into corroborating its reputation as a vibrant and innovative metropolis. This reputation is the result of joint efforts – together with the creative minds, we have established a solid economy and commerce in FrankfurtRhineMain with only positive effects in recent years: a steady and tremendous growth as well as interconnections between the creative and all other economic sectors.

 

An Economic Powerhouse

One thing is for certain: the culture and creative sectors are of major economic importance. In Germany, their gross value stood at around 106.4 billion Euros in 2019 – which amounts to a growth of around 3.6 billion Euros or 3.5 percent compared to the previous year. As a result, this puts the culture and creative industries on par with the engineering sectors, and ahead of the economic sectors such as financial services, energy supply and the chemical industry.

This dynamic can also be discerned in the State of Hessen and the business location Frankfurt, which is also the powerhouse of Hessen’s culture and creative industries: the activities here in the metropolis contribute to almost 45 percent of the turnover of Hessen’s creative industries. Furthermore, a third of the state’s cultural and creative workers operates in and out of Frankfurt. For every 1,000 inhabitants, 50 people are employed in this economic sector, which is twice as many creative minds as the state’s average. They already accounted for 6 percent of Frankfurt’s turnover in 2016, a number that has only been going up – until very recently. For instance, between 2007 and 2019, the number of employees covered by social insurance in Frankfurt’s cultural and creative industries rose by 44 percent to 30,400. Our city’s cultural and creative industries do not only attract other creative minds, but they also attract other sectors. The cultural and creative industries function cross-sectionally and act as a magnet for cluster and location activities. Another, rather special factor plays a large part in this: more than 170 different nations live and work in Frankfurt am Main today. They all signify a peaceful community as well as a lively cultural and social exchange, which, in turn, is the breeding ground for creativity. The creative industries make a decisive contribution to a location’s positive image.

Frankfurt’s Highlights

The creative location FrankfurtRhineMain is an international play of distinction: world-renowned game studios develop and distribute their gaming products, which are used millions of times, from right here, from Frankfurt. AI companies and 3D pioneers research new applications that make the virtual room come alive through XR and VR technologies. This way, they herald an utterly new era that is shaped and driven by technological developments and digital media. Yet, it is not about innovation for its own sake. The famous examples found in architecture and design underline the fact that Frankfurt’s creative minds always also react to current cultural and socio-political developments: The “New Frankfurt” with its modern housing estates and the “Frankfurt Kitchen” influenced design history – just as FUTURA did, the font that was developed in the same circles. Albeit this is just one of the reasons why Frankfurt am Main is home to several renowned communication and design agencies working on solutions to everyday problems.

The Starting Gun: the First Review of the Creative Industries in 2008

The city recognised the importance of the creative industries early on and published its first Review of the Creative Industries for Frankfurt as early as 2008. What followed can only be described as a success story. In 2009, the Competence Centre for Creative Industries was established by the Frankfurt Economic Development as a contact point for all matters concerning the creative sector. Biannually, the centre submits a report to the city council that outlines the city’s efforts to promote the creative sector and its development in Frankfurt. The Competence Centre’s team also supports and advises all creative minds, companies and initiatives in Frankfurt, if need be. This way, ground-breaking initiatives and activities have been implemented together with numerous actors.

 

Development Milestones

A multitude of outstanding industry events, congress formats, exhibitions and festivals, both large and small formats contribute to lively, diverse cultural and creative industries here. Developmental milestones were and are the LEA – Live Entertainment Award, the MTV Awards, the World Club Dome, the GWA Effie Award and Congress, the LUCAS and LICHTER film festivals, the ADC Festival, the Night of Honour, the LUMUNALE and NODE – Forum for Digital Arts festivals, TAB as well as the Frankfurt Art Experience. In 2021, the Frankfurt Fashion Week will be added as a new highlight and will, once again, put Frankfurt in the (inter)national spotlight.

It is Time for a Master Plan

To be able to compete with other locations, it is important to build on successes and develop the location further – thus remaining attractive for qualified staff, enterprises, businesses and creative minds. To this end, the municipal has specified the future developments towards a Master Plan for the Creative Industries, the biggest concern of which is the sustainable future development and the strengthening of the creative industries.

“It is all the more important to strengthen the city’s emotional attractiveness and to also score points with creativity and innovation,” as we put it in the Coalition Agreement of the city of Frankfurt am Main CDU + SPD + DIE GRÜNEN 2016–2021. “We have made it our mission to further establish Frankfurt am Main as a creative location and to expand the potential that the location has to offer for creative professionals. […] To this end, a master plan for the sector shall be developed.”

However, we were confronted with an unexpected and an all-new situation in 2020: due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were unable to realise many of the forward-looking projects, just as events and projects that had been a long time in the making had to be cancelled. The development of the Master Plan for the Creative Industries fell precisely into this period, and yet the team at the Frankfurt Economic Development succeeded in mastering this challenge even under the given circumstances. Many of the distinguished players who contributed to it are luminaries in their respective fields, for example from the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, the Zurich University of the Arts, the Zukunftsinstitut Frankfurt as well as numerous other industry partners. They have all contributed their professional and international expertise to the complex topics of the Master Plan and formulated recommendations for action.

 

Next Steps: Prioritising and Getting Started

The Master Plan brings together exciting analyses and identifies recommendations for action. It is intended as a blueprint, offering food for thought and providing important impetus for the upcoming legislative period. It also entrusts the city and the Frankfurt Economic Development with the Competence Centre for Creative Industries with the function of “future enablers.” Now, together with the cultural and creative industries, its people and stakeholders, it is time to take the next step. Participatory formats must be used to initiate a process to jointly prioritise which proposals will be pursued and implemented.

The city wishes to emphasise especially one point with its Master Plan, considering the developments of recent years: as an industry of the future, the creative industries can be a valuable guide out of the crisis. With all its facets, it makes a significant contribution to the success of a business location. That is why creative minds need our appreciation and support: to make the city, the economy and society fit for the coming decades with innovations and new formats – both offline and online. Innovative thinking is the only way to shape the future.

The city of Frankfurt am Main will do its best to support and promote the creative industries. You are invited to be part of this design process for Frankfurt. The Creative City.