London must remain central to a world creative forum

So the World Creative Forum could make a comeback, albeit in a slightly different guise, if James Purnell’s Creative Economy Green Paper gets the go-ahead.

It will be interesting to see what the addition of ‘Economy’ to the title might mean for an event that failed to make a big enough mark in its previous incarnations as an international hub for the London Design Festival.

The brainchild of LDF instigator John Sorrell, who saw it as a Davos-style creative summit, the forum was shelved partly through lack of funding. Talk at the time was of extracting it out of the LDF and staging it outside the UK to promote the potential of British design abroad.

With some tweaking, the idea could live on and even help protagonists of the Cultural Olympiad for 2012, to shadow the London Olympic Games, give substance to their ideas. But is the old format the best way to achieve the goals Sorrell set out for the original WCF?

One industry activist says the impetus for a London forum needs to come from outside the UK if it is to be truly global. Otherwise, it could fall prey to a plethora of over-protective UK design bodies, each bent on claiming ownership and pushing its own agenda rather than facilitating genuine debate.

There is a glimmer of this in The Creative Company Conference, to be staged in Amsterdam this month by Ravi Naidoo, founder of South Africa’s highly successful Design Indaba, with Dutch publisher Bis to celebrate innovation through creativity in business. Naidoo hopes to bring the event to London as early as next year (DW 18 October).

Inspired by conversations with US business gurus, Naidoo’s venture is just one possibility. But this kind of external intervention would allay fears of too much British bias and bring the forum closer to Sorrell’s Davos concept.

It is important that something happens and that London is at the centre. It may be one of the world’s most expensive cities, but it is seen as one of the best for culture and creativity.

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