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Ruth Towse and Trilce Navarrete Hernández
Over the past sixty or so years, cultural economics has established itself as a field of study that is relevant to arts organisations, creative industries, cultural policy and, increasingly, to economic policy for growth and development. It began modestly in the 1960s with an interest in the economic analysis of the finance of museums and the live performing arts, and has spread and evolved into a broader analysis of the cultural or creative industries and their role in the creative economy. This economy is now dominated by the digital revolution in the use of knowledge and information, and its distribution via the Internet; it is shaped by the need to foster creativity and to understand the production and consumption of creative goods and services. While some economists hold that the digital economy does not call for a new kind of economics, nevertheless, new concepts have been adopted with the title ‘platform economics’ and extended universally. Cultural economics has long wrestled with topics to which ordinary economics did not seem fully applicable (for instance, understanding economic incentives for artists and other creators) and has accordingly developed an understanding of public policy issues concerning the development and support of the creative industries. Cultural economics now offers expertise in the analysis of markets for a wide range of creative products, ranging from art to digital television, which were reflected in the topics covered in the second edition of this Handbook. The third edition now takes matters a step further, with a good proportion of the chapters dealing with the economic theory and its application in the digital economy. However, there are timeless topics in cultural economics. Research on the economic characteristics of production and consumption of the performing arts, museums and built heritage on topics such as such as demand, elasticity, pricing, costs, market structure, finance and regulation continue to attract cultural economists. Some of these art forms – even the most traditional such as opera and museums – have been able to embrace new technologies, not so much on the production side (though that too) as in facilitating their ability to reach wider audiences. In addition, there has been an increased amount of economic research on the cultural industries (broadcasting, film, publishing and sound recording, and video games) and on the impact of the creative industries on economic development in cities and districts, including through festivals and cultural tourism. In addition to the public finance of the older arts, regulation by governments continues to play an important role in the creative economy in relation to heritage and the media, and through copyright law and artists’ rights legislation. This book covers all these topics.