The Arts+ is a creative business festival and international meeting place for the culture and creative industries, launched in October 2016 during the Frankfurter Buchmesse. The goal of the new format is to exploit the potential of digitalisation for creative content and to develop new business areas. International artists, opinion leaders and experts as well as an impressive range of exhibitors present innovative approaches from the fields of publishing, museums, architecture and design, brands and agencies.

The Arts+ Festival, spanning over 3.000 sqm, attracts 270.000 visitors, 10.000 journalists, 10.000 right dealers (publishing, film, games, online) and 200+ political and administrative officials from over 110 countries each year.

At the central exhibition space creative and cultural organizations, technology companies, museums and creatives showcase the huge world of cultural content and innovation in the creative business.

We welcome international professionals from culture and the creative field, such as photographers, illustrators. designers, curators, publishers, museum executives, technology professionals, policy makers, politicians, bloggers and journalists.

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 books lend themselves naturally to media convergence, especially for films and games (or vice versa). Check out this pitching session at The Arts+ to learn more.

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).