Creatives’ Futures in the UK

Following our own ‘Expanding the Creative Piepline’ response to the government’s Industrial Strategy document this blog looks at the responses of two of the major Creative Industries representative’s responses to the consultation.  The Creative Industries Council CIC), is a government advisory board set up to officially provide advice to the government.  The Creative Industries Federation(CIF) is a membership organisation created to provide an independent voice for the creative industries.

Much of what they say is reflected in BCre8ive’s own submissions and it shows the degree to which there is some agreement on the key issues going forward. This is seen in the following statement from the Creative Industries Council

“Securing the talent pipeline

We want to establish a new partnership between industry and Government,local and national, to ensure that we are able to develop, attract and retain the skills and talent our sectors need now and for the future, covering every stage from school to technical pathways and apprenticeships, further and higher education and in-job training. In doing so we want
and need to afford greater access and opportunities to diverse talent across the UK.” CIC


The Questions of Access and Diversity.

“A creative careers campaign – to diversify recruitment and counteract inadequate and misleading advice on jobs available and the education and training needed for them.” CIF

“Provide job opportunities and career pathways for people from all backgrounds, linked to high quality education and training provision; and encourage entrepreneurship.” CIC

There is a shocking lack of diversity within some parts of the creative industries, and the need to address this is clearly paramount if the UK as a whole is to develop its talent, and support all those who could create new global creative works – from games to visual art, and from design to web series. Without an opening up of access to the full creative community then all the other changes further down the creative pipeline will be limited in their impact. However, the need  for creativity and collaboration in education is vital if this approach is to be sustained over the longer term.

Access to finance

“(The creation of ) A ‘business booster’ network – to provide access to high-quality advice for startups and small enterprises on exporting, intellectual property (IP) and access to finance.” CIF

“Catalysing Investment
The creative industries are dominated by small and micro businesses, and by project-based ways of working. Evidence suggests they can find it particularly difficult to secure the investment needed to grow and scale up.” CIC

Providing seed and investment money for freelancers and micro-companies (who combined make up over 90% of the creative industries) is critical to future success. This is difficult and seen to be very risky in some quarters, which is why it needs to be combined with effective content development support plus marketing advice and support. Funding and marketing poorly developed work is no solution, as the steady decline of the UK’s independent film sector has shown. Addressing the content development issue is critical to the success of a more effective financing strategy.

Creative Clusters

“Creative enterprise zones – modelled on the tax breaks and dedicated government support offered in existing enterprise zones but tailored for the creative industries.” CIF

“The Council will bring forward proposals for action, informed by and working with partners, to grow major, sustainable local creative ecosystems in targeted areas across the UK, in order to:- stimulate the local investment which will enable creative businesses to start,and then to scale up, securing gains in both productivity and critical mass (and) boost local economic growth through developing the wider supply chain and the local creative and cultural infrastructure” CIC

Creative clusters were identified in NESTA’s research, and by the work of the FUSE programme, supported by the AHRC. The issue they highlighted though was the dominance of London and the other major cities and the issues in future creative support is how do we reach beyond this metro-centric vision of creative activity in the UK.

For decades the access to training and finance has been concentrated in these big conurbations, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy that this is where the creatives are. They  had no choice they either moved to London etc., or were ignored, and thus not supported. Creativity should not bounded by the number of coffee shops or the ability to network with those who have money, that a city provides. The web and the growth of fast broadband means we are now able to support and engage talent wherever it lives, and we need to ensure any new initiatives recognises this. Let us not forget that the tech nerd who blocked the latest world wide cyber attack lives in Ilfracombe.

The Bigger Picture

The Creative Industries have been recognised by all the major political parties in the UK, judging by the recent manifestos. However,  they all leave out much of the detail necessary to implement a significant expansion in the success of creatives in the UK. In addition there is the question of implementing such a major change.  Current structures are major city dominated, and top down in approach. Overall this will not serve the vast majority of freelances and micro-companies in the creative sector.

In order to support creative freelancers and micro companies we need to fully embrace a digital solution, and address the global markets for our work not just the UK.  This will not be easy, it will not be an overnight fix, and it will take effort form all creatives to up their game, but it is a massive opportunity. It is a potentially great future for creatives in the UK.



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