Celebrating the success of the Creative Industries in the UK

A summary of the latest report launched by IPPR which highlights the strengths and comparative advantages of the creative sector.

10 March 2014

(Image taken from IPPR report)

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has launched a comprehensive report on the strengths, advantages and development of the creative industries during the last few years.

The report "March of the modern makers: an industrial strategy for the creative industries" outlines how a more co-ordinated and concerted approach to government policy could maximise those strengths. In the following paragraphs, I will only present a short summary of some of the key aspects of the report, namely, the importance of the creative industries for the country, some of the changes that they have faced in the last few years as well as identifying the main creative clusters around the country.

A fast growing sector

Creativity and the arts have always lied in the heart of the creative sector making it an important part of the UK's culture, democracy and economy.

As defined by the government, the creative industries include nine broad sub-sectors: advertising and marketing; architecture; crafts; design (including fashion); film, TV, video, radio and photography; IT, software and computer services; publishing; museums, galleries and libraries; and music, performing and visual arts.

New government data reveals that the growth of the creative sector's gross value added (GVA) in 2012 was at 9.4%, nearly six times faster than the rest of the economy.

The music industry has benefited from a significant uplift in revenues from live performances. In fact, the UK music industry is today worth over £3.5 billion in terms of GVA.

The film industry has been quite stable since 2006. Overall, investment in film production in the UK has hovered consistently around the £1 billion mark over the least five years.

Creative clusters around the UK

Although London is the heart of the creative industries in Britain, the sector’s growth reflects numerous successes all across the UK. As the figure below shows, creative clusters and centres of excellence are growing and expanding across the UK.


Creative jobs across the sector

Across the creative industries, recent growth has translated into rapid job creation, with employment in the sector up to by 8.6% between 2011 and 2012. Employment within the creative industries was 1.68 million in 2012, accounting for one out of every 18 jobs in the UK.

The graph below shows the growth of employment in the creative industries and each sub-sector between 2011 and 2012, please see the graphic below, in more detail.


Industrial strategy

The report suggests that an industrial strategy for the creative industries is vital:

"The UK has a strong comparative advantage in the generation of creative content. Whether in software generation, games development, music, TV content and formats, film or fashion, creativity is what we do, and what we do well. An industrial strategy for the creative industries should therefore be centred upon a set of policies and interventions that maximise opportunities to create great content and to exploit it both at home and abroad.", says the report.

It is argues that the discovery of new talent is crucial for the survival or fall on innovation of these industries.

"Universities carry the big responsibility in spotting talent, turning the raw material into the finished product and ensuring that technical expertise is developed", says the report.

Two useful recommendations

The IPPR gives 10 detailed suggestions to maximise the UK's existing comparative strengths across the creative industries. From those, I have found two that are the most relevant to the work we do at AND.

  1. Greater diversity should be encouraged across the creative sector workforce (in both the public and private sectors) with specific initiatives to encourage training opportunities for underrepresented groups in the creative workforce.
  2. Greater knowledge exchange between educational institutions and creative sectors should be encouraged, in order to help expose creative businesses, particularly smaller ones, to new research and ideas that can form the basis of greater innovation. Creative businesses should also work more closely with colleges and universities to develop the talent pipeline.


The report left me thinking about a few things, some of them have been coincidentally highlighted last week at the CCSkills annual conference.

  • How can we make sure young people from the different areas of London have the same opportunities and chances to break into the creative industries?
  • How can young people benefit from the steady growth within the creative industries?
  • Although London is clearly a hot spot, it is not the only one. Places like Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol are expanding rapidly and emerging as a creative clusters around the country giving more access to young people living around those regions.
  • Our employability programme, CREATE Jobs provides new routes into the creative industries for young people in Greenwich, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Hackney or Barking & Dagenham.

To read the full report launched by IPPR. Click on the link below

Download March-of-the-modern-makers

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