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News - 25 February 2008

Creative industries come of age

The UK’s first comprehensive plan for Government support for the creative industries was published today. Does this mark the shift of the sector from the margins to the mainstream of economic and policy thinking

The strategy, ‘Creative Britain: New Talents for the New Economy’ makes 26 key commitments for Government and industry across every stage of the creative process.

The definition of creative industries is huge including advertising, architecture, art and antiques markets, crafts, design, designer fashion, film, interactive leisure software, music, the performing arts, publishing, software and computer services, television and radio.

Publishing the action plan today, Culture Secretary Andy Burnham said:

“Our vision is of a Britain in 10 years time where the local economies in our biggest cities are driven by creativity. That’s why we need a clear action plan for both Government and industry to keep our competitive advantage. We want to take raw talent, nurture it, and give people the best possible chance of building a successful business.”

New commitments announced today include:

  • Securing 5,000 employer designed apprenticeships across the creative industries by 2013. Among the first to sign up to offer high quality training are BBC at mediacity:uk, Tate Liverpool, Universal Music Group, Monkeydevil Design and NCSoft - the gaming group which has its European headquarters based in Brighton and reported a £48m profit in 2007.
  • Working with the industries’ most successful creators, including Aardman Animations, EMI, and the Royal Opera House to develop five new ‘centres of excellence’ in creative skills
  • Exploring the creation of a 14 – 25 Academic Hub for the creative industries, which will bring schools and art colleges and universities together

A pilot ‘Find Your Talent’ programme in schools will be tested in ten areas with £25 million over three years. A comprehensive package of measures to support business has also been developed following extensive consultation with the industries. Their priorities included greater protection for intellectual property, and help for creative businesses to access finance and grow.

High speed broadband is considered to be vital for the growth of Britain’s creative industries, which already contribute some £60 billion to the UK economy.

Networks of ‘regional beacons’ will be established across the country to help creative industries make the most of business support available and £13m will be devoted to stimulating R&D.

Fund managers will be encouraged to bid for Enterprise Capital Funds, and Arts Council England and regional development agencies (RDAs) will provide venture capital to small creative enterprises. Their support will be directed at projects that combine artistic excellence with commercial potential.

RDAs will also pilot creative economy strategic frameworks but only in two regions - the north-west and the south-west missing out the obvious powerhouse of the southeast.

The centrepiece of giving creative industries a powerful global presence and the opportunity to compare themselves with the very best in the world will be a World Creative Business Conference - a new annual international event, which the Government hopes will become the equivalent of Davos for the creative industries with an ambitious inception date of spring 2009.


This strategy document needs to be quickly followed by an action plan for implementation if it is to have any effect on a burgeoning sector that is already making a significant contribution to the economy both at national level and at local level here in Brighton & Hove.

Responsibility for delivery is split between three different government departments – never a recipe for quick success and there are some indications that none of them have entirely grasped what is needed to help the UK compete internationally.

The promise to conduct research to ensure that academia is equipping students with the skills they need to make the most effective contribution they can to the creative economy will be welcomed, not least locally in Brighton & Hove. The document promises that the research will challenge the industry and academia to build ever-stronger links in the interests of bridging gaps in skills provision. But any pay-back from educational programmes will be several years down the line.

There is insufficient detail about how fledgling creative industry companies will be assisted to grow to medium size in a sector that in some respects is dominated by giants. On the other hand many fledgling companies will welcome the promise to strengthen the protection of intellectual property (IP) rights with legislation promised for 2009.

But it is unlikely to address the high costs of obtaining those rights in the first place. Legal fees for establishing and protecting ownership of IP are a major issue for small, developing companies in this sector.

The proposal to develop a ‘menu for local infrastructure’. to help local and regional authorities decide which developments – like flexible office and rehearsal space, or protection of existing venues and marketing – they might pursue to attract the creative industries to their areas could be useful for areas trying to kick-start their own creative hubs but Brighton & Hove is well beyond this stage.

The strategy is a start but far more work needs to be done if the creative industries are to realise their potential and deliver the growth in jobs and GVA that they could. 

Read related items on:
Creative industries
Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
Department of Culture, Media & Sport

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