Speech at the official opening of the sixth Asia-Europe Culture Ministers Meeting (ASEM) in Rotterdam

Minister Bussemaker welcomes guests at the opening of the sixth Asia-Europe Culture Ministers Meeting (ASEM) in Rotterdam on Monday, 20 October 2014.

Your Majesty,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It was at theWorld's Fair in Paris, in eighteen-eighty-nine, that the young composer Claude Debussy heard the music of the Javanese gamelan. This groundbreaking experience helped him in his search for a new approach to musical harmony and structure. Debussy broke with current musical traditions, creating 'impressionist music' that lay the foundation for modern classical music and the ambient style in pop music.

This is certainly not the only example of innovation resulting from an unexpected meeting of different worlds. Whether in music, the visual arts, architecture or design: the core of creativity consists of breaking through boundaries between worlds, disciplines and styles, and creating something new based on unexpected combinations. 

It is the power of creativity that has brought us together - ministers and representatives from countries throughout Europe and Asia. And it is this power that has prompted us to make the creative industry the key theme during this sixth Asia-Europe Culture Ministers Meeting.
The tangible connection between artists and creatives with other societal and economic worlds is one of the most promising developments of our time, as our King eloquently mentioned.

Today, we will spend our time in this impressive building, designed by Rem Koolhaas. An architect many of you will know for his beautiful buildings around the world, from Seattle to Berlin and from Beijing to Qatar. And someone you could certainly call an early adopter.
In the late nineteen-nineties, alongside his regular architecture practice, he founded a new office, where designers' brainpower is channelled for the benefit of society. So, whereas some are converting their creativity into buildings of steel, glass and stone, others have been working on a redesign of the European flag and on solving problems in the big cities of India and Africa.

And while Koolhaas' agencies are still separate practices, these activities are merged into a single entity in the creative industry's new generation.

Last year's Eindhoven Design Week featured work by an artist, called Jalila Essaoudi.
Researchers had previously demonstrated that strong silk spun by a tropical spider can also be produced in goat's milk by transplanting DNA.
That silk can be used to manufacture bullet-proof vests.
The artist wondered whether it would be possible to use the silk thread directly on human skin, so she got some biotechnologists involved.
This artistic research led to a new type of artificial skin that can be used in the treatment of burn patients.

And I'm seeing this kind of innovations more and more:
Fashion designers who also think about saving energy, and seek out collaboration with engineers. People from the gaming industry who work with surgeons to develop teaching methods for students.

Modern artists who connect the worlds of imagination, knowledge and technology, can set things in motion. Together we will explore how we can encourage these connections and get it moving.

About a decade ago our countries started to realize that the creative industry is an economic factor to be reckoned with. In the Netherlands, the creative industry contributes about two-point-five percent to GPD, it's our biggest export product and the fastest growing sector in terms of employment. And there is a growing awareness worldwide that this strength can go far beyond direct economic benefits.

We are facing large, complex problems in the areas of health, environment and quality of urban life. And we will not get far if we simply rely on traditional solutions. We need to do things smarter, different, better. Technology can help us devising new solutions. But it comes down to human intelligence and creativity to find them. And to deal with them wisely.
The creative industry can really lead the way in this regard.
This is why the creative industry is part of the Dutch top sector policy: this policy focuses on economic sectors that hold promise for our country and can make a difference to society.

The government's focus is especially on internationalization, building knowledge and cooperation - with companies, centres of expertise and governments. Right now in New York City, a team of Dutch engineers, technologists and designers is working with the local authorities on a sustainable plan to protect the city and its people from potential flooding.

I am curious to know what we can learn from one another in supporting the creative industries.

We'll discuss what we can do to enhance our citizens' creative skills. How can we prepare our young people at school for creative professions? And how can we ensure that cultural education in our schools gets the emphasis it deserves?
We will discuss the subject of creative cities. Complex problems are concentrated in cities. Because of their urban fabric - that encourages encounters between all sorts of people and the exchange of ideas - creative cities are also the places where people invent workable solutions. 
Especially in cities area's are created where creativity and science find each other. Especially in cities people take the initiative to change things, often driven by their creative peers.
How can we facilitate the creative industry to make successful cities also inclusive, healthy and sustainable?

Finally we will debate creative entrepreneurship.
Currently we are providing support to the creative industries, especially in developing their artistic potential.
How can we help artists to become more enterprising and ensure that entrepreneurs better understand the creative industry?
Should the government take on a role in this area?

I am looking forward to hear about good practices of the different countries. For instance, I'm curious to know how Singapore stimulates creative skills in education; and what can we learn from the cultural education programmes in the United Kingdom.

We - ministers and government representatives - are not only meeting with each other. We also visit Dutch creative cities, and we will meet artists, designers and creatives. Our next speaker, for example, is Daan Roosegaarde, one of Holland's most socially committed and visionary artists.

This mix of worlds, and encounters between many different kinds of people  will hopefully give us the inspiration to help the creative industries worldwide achieve their true potential.

I wish you a very enjoyable meeting.