Iceland’s Minister of Culture, Education and Science Katrin Jakobsdóttir wants to build a better bridge between research, education and business in the creative industries.


What are your thoughts on the newly released report on creative industries?

The report gives us a better insight into where our efforts in supporting the creative industries are going at the present moment. A study on the economic impact of this sector in 2010 opened the eyes of many here in Iceland to the possibilities of future growth in this diverse field. This report, which includes a mapping of the support being given, shows the need for further development of cross-governmental collaboration. The support system has to be developed and steps are already being taken in this respect with new funds coming into place, for example for design and the visual arts, while other funds are being reinforced.

What were the key things to it?

The report gives a good overview and such mapping is always beneficial. It underlines of the importance of a more holistic approach to the matters of different arts and creative industries. It also shows the importance of having strong institutions for each art field, while at the same time to underscore the importance of the grass root level, the importance of independent development and originality. The report also brings forward the pressing importance of having good data on the economic importance of culture and creative industries so we can build up a historical view and a better possibility of comparing the situation in Iceland with the outside world, especially the Nordic countries.

Where would you like to see the Icelandic creative industries in five years?

I would like to see the creative industries both as an integral part of our industries and innovation policies as well as part of our cultural policies. This does not necessarily mean that every project has to include a pot of gold at the end of each rainbow, but rather that we acknowledge the diverse role governmental bodies can have in supporting the diversity of the cultural and industrial affairs in our small country. This also includes matters of export for our cultural goods where I think we have great possibilities if we play our cards right. Nevertheless we have to respect and to take care of cultural activities as such and not forget ourselves fully in the economic impact.

What is the importance of design in the Icelandic society of today?

Design in Iceland is blooming and the general public has become increasingly aware of this in the last decade or so. This diverse creative field is important to many industries and businesses’ in the country and design has a big role to play in raising the awareness of sustainable solutions in society.

The first national Icelandic design policy is currently in the works. What are the next concrete steps in implementing that?

The work on the design policy is in its final stages but the government has already started working on some of its main points. A new project-based design fund is under development for the first time in Iceland and I hope that this will develop the field even further. Design is also one of the subjects being developed into a master’s degree in the Icelandic Academy of the Arts. In my view it is also important to aim at an even better awareness of the importance of design in governmental circles and in the business sector.

What are the biggest challenges in working with creative industries – and design in particular?

I would say that there is a lack of historical and statistical data and a relatively recent understanding of the societal changes taking place in regards to our industrial and innovative surroundings. We all know how important it is to expand the foundations for the industries in this country, but the creative field is somewhat different to what many people are used to. It should not be considered a potential “quick fix” or seen as very profitable in the short term, but rather as having the ability to become a practical factor in a diverse and sustainable economy. This goes both for the creative industries in general and for design in particular.

If you could change one thing to do with design and architecture as an industry, from the point of view of policy making, what would that be?

I would like to build a better bridge between, on the one hand, the research, education and development in these fields and the practical day-to-day business affairs, on the other. This will no doubt fall into place with the increased awareness of design and architecture in society and the importance of creative work.



We regularly contribute to KreaNord, a Nordic initiative designed to improve the growth prospect for the region’s cultural and creative industries including fashion, music, publishing, design, architecture, animation and film. This post was originally published there – take a look for yourself!