Another week, another report on how much the creative industries are worth…

Monday, June 25th, 2007

Here’s news of (yet another) report on how, surprise surprise, the creative sectors contribute a jolly big amount of money to the economy.

Presumably running a close second to the ‘we’ve heard it all before’ report writing industry. Seriously, this has to be the fourth or fifth such report in the last twelve months. Stop reporting already – can we just move on? It’s nearly ten years since then Government Minister Chris Smith wrote a book about this, and nothing seems to have changed as a result, other than free entry to museums and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Personally I worry about the phrase ‘the flow of creativity worth commercialising’ here, as though creativity needs to be assessed in economic rather than cultural terms, and ignoring the way that creativity (beyond the carefully planned demographically-targetted TV shows and films) actually percolates throughout society.

It also worries me that reports like this tend to be used as amunition to regulate the creative sector and gain control over academia – the argument that if we’re to benefit from creative industries the industries should take over courses just doesn’t make any sense. The two sectors are entirely different, despite their shared focus. It’s like Borders telling JK Rowling how to write.


The Guardian article on the report is below. For an alternative take on this see Mike Press’s review of ‘Fantasy Island’, a book that The Guardian seems to have forgotten it has published an extract on its site.

The value of Britain’s creative industries to the economy is now broadly comparable to that of the financial services sector, according to a report published today.
Commissioned by the department for culture, media and sport, the report calls Britain’s creative economy – including publishing, broadcasting and advertising – the country’s ‘great unsung success story’, generating £4bn of exports annually.

This, the report by the Work Foundation concludes, represents around 7.3% of the annual revenue generated by the entire UK economy.

Entitled Staying Ahead: The Economic Performance of the UK’s Creative Industries, the 266-page report estimates that 13 creative industry sectors – which include advertising, publishing, radio and TV, computer services and computer games – employ 1.8 million people and generate more ‘cultural goods’ for export than any other nation in the world.

The report, which took six months to compile, cites findings from the United Nations educational and cultural organisation, Unesco, that the UK exported $8.5bn (£4.25bn) of cultural goods in the 13 creative sectors in 2002 compared with $7.6bn (£3.8bn) billion by the US and $5.2 billion (£2.6bn) from China.

The other sectors in the creative industries list are architecture, design, film, music, software, designer fashion, crafts, performing arts and the arts and antiques market.

This value of exports is thought to be in line with amount generated by the UK’s financial services sector, according to Unesco analysis from 2004.

However, a Work Foundation spokesman admitted that ‘hard data’ is ‘difficult to come by’ due to the nature of the various creative sectors analysed in the report.

Today’s report also warns that ‘without careful policy-making, targeted public investment and a supportive institutional architecture, the flow of creativity worth commercialising may begin to slow’.

Will Hutton, the Observer columnist and chief executive of the Work Foundation, said: ‘There is no doubt that Britain’s creative knack is something to celebrate. The stuff that creates new insights, delights and experiences, that stirs our senses and enriches our lives, is also the stuff that is propelling a larger slice of our economic output.

‘The question is can we continue to supply this growing demand? How we create the architecture that will incubate rather than stunt creative industry growth is a major policy question.’

The culture secretary, Tessa Jowell, welcomed the report, adding: ‘This analysis shows just how vibrant – and how economically important – our creative industries are.

‘The report is a key part of our work towards publishing a green paper on the creative industries later this year, and we will consider its findings carefully.'”

(Via The Guardian.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: