Impacts of creative industries projects in Pirot in achieving SDGs

To strengthen the creative industries entrepreneurship in rural parts of Serbia, two projects were implemented in the period 2015-2017: “Strengthening local and regional institutional capacities for the support to creative industries in Serbia” (supported by the UNESCO International Fund for Cultural Diversity and the Ministry of Culture of Serbia) and “Rural creative economy: Economic strengthening of rural creative industries” (supported by the US Embassy in Serbia). The first project was focused on improving local and regional capacities for enacting a strategic approach, cross-sectoral and innovative partnership in creative industries through reinforcing existing institutional infrastructure and creating a network of local and regional creative industries stakeholders. The second project had the aim to promote a sustainable market economy and poverty reduction of rural people through enhancing rural creative industries entrepreneurship and public-private partnership.

The projects have the overall goal to reduce poverty of rural population and to improve their economic and cultural position, the first one at the policy level (so-called policy component) while the second one at the entrepreneurship level (so-called entrepreneurial component). This was done through capacity building (Laboratory for Creative Entrepreneurship, Creative Economy School); sustainable creative industries policy (Creative Industries Mapping Studies, Agenda for Creative Industries Development); networking and visibility of creative entrepreneurs (Rural Creative Industries Fair) and creating web platforms for promotion, branding and selling products of rural creative industries (Creative Economy Expo Platform) as well as raising the awareness of local governments about the developmental impact of rural creative entrepreneurship and strengthening the partnership for sustainable development (Creative Economy Forum).

While creating conditions for poverty reduction of rural population (SDG #1), these projects indirectly contributed to the advancement of the following goals as well:

SDG #4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality of education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

SDG #6 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls SDG #8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth SDG #17- Strengthen the partnership for sustainable development

The projects were created based on the idea that high poverty rates in rural areas had been caused mainly by low economic development and insufficient diversification of the rural economy. The diversification of the rural economy through creative industries good governance and increasing number of creative entrepreneurs can generate pathways for reducing the risk of vulnerability of the rural population, especially for women and youth.

Project activities

The entrepreneurial component of these two projects started with the mapping of creative entrepreneurs and the assessment of their capacities and needs. This data was used by the municipal government, task forces for creative industries and a project team to define an action plan within the project with the consultation of creative entrepreneurs. The aim of the action plan was to define a road map for the creation of a better environment for the development of rural creative entrepreneurship.

This was followed by organizing the Laboratory of Creative Entrepreneurship, attended by 86 entrepreneurs. This specific open-innovation and knowledgesharing laboratory served as a capacity building for rural creative entrepreneurs by which they obtained and improved the skills, knowledge and other resources needed to do business in creative industries. The participants gained knowledge about legal aspects of their business, marketing through social networks, photographing their products, intellectual property protection and possible funding. They were also trained on how to become creative business mentors in their respective communities, who could support other entrepreneurs in improving their creative activities or in motivating other community members to start their own creative industries entrepreneurship.

The selected 42 entrepreneurs were visited by creative industries business coaches, who helped them to improve their products, sales methods, promotion and visibility. Their products were photographed, and business coaches helped them present their businesses better on a digital platform created within the project and establish better communication with their clients. The closing events for the Laboratory of Creative Entrepreneurship, called Creative Economy Forum and the Rural Creative Industries Fair, helped project participants to network, get business contacts and create new partnerships and joint projects with other creative entrepreneurs as well as with the government and municipality representatives.

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