Following the announcement of the UK government’s £150m ‘sector deal’ for the creative industries, industry figureheads have expressed positivity around how the agreement will impact the film and TV businesses.
“It’s not the magic bullet, but it’s a very big flag stuck in the ground,” said Film London chief executive Adrian Wootton on how the deal is a signal of the UK government’s intent to support the country’s creative industries.
The key positive note, said Wootton, is not the £150m additional public money (which is being channelled into a variety of initiatives) but the fact that there is a sector deal at all.
Sector deals are being introduced for multiple industries by the government as part of its wider Industrial Strategy, the long-term plan to increase the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK.
Previously, similar deals have been announced for the life sciences, automotive, construction and artificial intelligence sectors.
“We are now seen as a normal part of the UK economy, alongside the other examples of sectors that have received deals. That’s a big change,” added John McVay, chief executive of producers’ trade body PACT. ”The more we are seen as an everyday and important industry, the better.”
“It recognises just how much money and jobs are being created by the creative industries and the film industry. We can use this to drive growth,” added Wootton.
At last count, the creative industries (which are comprised of film, TV, music, fashion and design, arts, architecture, publishing, advertising, video games and crafts) contributes more than 5% of the overall UK economy, employs more than two million people, and contributes £87bn of GVA (Gross Value Added) to the UK. The sector is also growing at twice the rate of the wider UK economy.
While some might have hoped for a more concrete indication of the extra public money that will become available to the creative industries – particularly with the spectre of Brexit looming over European funding avenues – the goal for now is to build on current success.
Film and high-end TV alone attracted over £2bn of inward investment to the UK in 2017. The government is now aiming for that figure to double to £4bn a year by 2025, providing that there are “substantial increases in studio capacity and investment in skills”, read the sector deal publication.
While the government’s £150m figure includes money for training – such as a further £2m that is being made available to fund industry-led skills packages, including a creative careers programme that could reach 600,000 pupils – many of these developments, such as London’s planned major film studio and a new sixth form college that will have a specialism in film and is backed by UK producers Working Title, are being funded by private money.
“The government thinks that it is already putting a huge amount of money into film, television, animation, games, including the National Lottery money that goes into the BFI and trickles to organisations such as ourselves,” said Wootton. “It [supporting growth] is as much an industry challenge, a moment for the private sector to put money where its mouth is.”
McVay also emphasised that Brexit “wasn’t really a part of the thinking behind this [sector deal]” because the creative industry’s growth is outpacing the wider UK economy to such a degree that it “doesn’t have a problem”. There are “very few barriers to flogging our creative products around the world”, he added.
McVay has been heavily involved in gathering together industry heads to consult the government on its sector deal to-date, and will remain key to the plans going forward. Immediately after the Easter bank holiday weekend, the process of officially structuring the various elements of the sector deal will begin, revealed McVay, who added that the industry “will soon start to see hard things being delivered”.
Amanda Nevill, CEO of the BFI, added that her organisation is hoping to work closely with the government on the next steps: ”With film at the heart of the creative industries we look forward to working closely with government in creating the conditions for film and the screen industries to thrive UK-wide and internationally.”