The Twelve Dimensions

Pier Luigi Sacco is well known for his theories on culture economics. He has given us an historic perspective on the relationship between money and arts. The history of the European art finance starts with the classical patrons and continues with the period of the industrial revolution – a development from Culture 1.0 to Culture 2.0. The state of today is Culture 3.0.


On a general level the transformation could be described as a shift to a postindustrial economy, a kind of society that is to a lower extent occupied with manufacturing than innovation, information, education and culture. This not a new observation. For more than 40 years, the arrival of a new kind of society (sometimes called post industrialist) has been announced. Almost that long, it has been observed that culture in a broad sense plays an increasingly more important role in highly developed economies.

“One of the most evident effects has to do with the cornerstone of the Culture 3.0 phase: Active cultural participation. By active cultural participation, we mean a situation in which individuals do not limit themselves to absorb passively the cultural stimuli, but are motivated to put their skills at work: Thus, not simply hearing music, but playing; not simply reading texts, but writing, and so on. By doing so, individuals challenge themselves to expand their capacity of expression, to re-negotiate their expectations and beliefs, to reshape their own social identity.”

A brief scheme of the phases/relations:

Culture 1.0 – preindustrial society – patrons, subsidies
Culture 2.0 – industrial society – cultural & creative industries
Culture 3.0 – postindustrial society – culture as system-wide force, keyword: active cultural participation

In the complex postindustrial economies of today, it is not only the immediate contributions to the economy that are most important – but the indirect. Culture can contribute on a number of areas, like innovation, welfare and sustainability. A presumption is that a lot of citizens actively participates in the cultural life in an interaction between consumption and production. 

“Today, one can easily have access to production technology that allow professional treatment of text, still and moving images, sound, and multimedia with impressively quick learning curves and at very cheap prices – something that, before the explosion of the personal computing revolution, and thus no longer than a couple of decades ago, would have simply been unthinkable. Thus, if the Culture 2.0 revolution has been characterized by an explosion of the size of cultural markets, the Culture 3.0 revolution is characterized by the explosion of the pool of producers, so that it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between cultural producers and users”

The classification is of course an historic epoch description. But at the same time it’s a description of three logic relations between culture and money. And all these three relations are in highest degree still alive today, and they will probably keep on coexisting.

The Cultural Industry?

Sacco identifies a connection between innovation and cultural activity – every society with a high degree of innovation is also characterized by a high degree of active cultural participation.

“The interesting aspect of active participation is that individuals are not simply exposed to cultural experiences, but take a dive into the rules that generate them, they have to learn to play with the ‘source code’ that is behind the generation of cultural meaning.”

Yes, something has definitely happened to culture. The function of the arts is no longer to decorate and legitimate the political power and in return gain protection. Nor is culture a meaningful leisure activity in exchange for governmental subsidies.

According to Sacco, the economic significance of culture is not isolated to the creative and cultural industries, an opinion that has been climbing on the political agendas during the last decades. Sacco claims that culture is much more system-wide than to be considered as a growing sector in the economy. In fact, culture completely permeates the social and economic life of cities and regions.

It’s an optimistic message. Economic and social regression can be broken. And it’s no longer necessary to look on the global concurrence with fear. The local society can succeed if politics, businesses and civil society cooperates – and realizes the strategic significance of culture for the economic development and the social coherence.


Sacco is inspired by several renowned theoreticians – Richard Florida, Michael Porter and Amartya Sen – when he identifies twelve dimensions of central relevance for the system-wide capacity of culture:

1. Quality of Cultural Supply
2. Quality of Local Governance
3. Quality of the Production of Knowledge
4. Development of Local Entrepreneurship
5. Development of Local Talent
6. Attraction of External Firms and Investments
7. Attraction of External Talent
8. Management of Social Criticalities
9. Capability Building and Education of the Local Community
10. Local community involvement
11. Internal Networking
12. External Networking

According to me, an analysis of these dimensions is a good starting point for every local society. What do we have? What do we need? Do we have the right conditions for success in the short term or the long term?

This page was updated 2016-03-12 by Fredrik Sandblad.