A newly-published independent review of the creative industries, conducted by ITV chair Peter Bazalgette, has called for the creation of a £500m fund to support the development of the UK’s regions outside of London and the South East.
The report, commissioned by the UK’s business and culture secretaries, gave former Arts Council England chair Bazalgette a brief to review how the UK’s creative industries can grow the UK economy.
The report claims that the UK’s creative industries could be worth £130bn by 2025 and could add one million new jobs by 2030. It is currently worth nearly £90m and employs more than two million people.
One of the key findings from the report is that significant potential for growth in the creative industries should be sought in the UK’s regions.
It noted that “around half of the growth and jobs in the [creative industries] sector centred in London and the South East” and while “this should be celebrated” the report suggested that the growth outside of those areas was “too small”.
“The positive story of the UK Creative Industries to date has been achieved despite unequal distribution of opportunities, skills, finance and knowledge,” it said.
Concluding that “we are failing to harness the creative talents of all our communities” the report called for the government to establish a £500m Creative Clusters Fund.
Defining a creative cluster as “a geographic concentration of creative businesses and workers, often linked to similar value chains, that collaborate and compete with each other”, the report suggested that accelerating regional growth through the prism of these clusters would benefit the entire industry.
“I believe strongly that if government can get the leadership, financial, advisory and skills support right for creative clusters then they will deliver a model that solves problems for other significant parts of the economy,” Bazalgette wrote in the report.
“I am recommending a bottom-up process which allows localities, which often have a firmer grasp of their growth potential and needs than central government, to direct policy development,” he added.
The money would help to close the skills gap, build infrastructure, support research and development and provide more expert guidance to growing businesses, the report suggested.
Even though the UK attracted £1bn in inward investment in 2016, and nearly £9bn since the tax relief was introduced, the report warned that “despite the UK’s success in attracting international productions in HETV and film, evidence is emerging to suggest that the supply of both modern studio space and skilled crews is not fully in-step with demand”.
“As a result, the UK risks losing out on significant investment to territories including North America and Eastern Europe,” it said.
The report highlighted plans for expansions at Warner Bros Leavesden Studios and Pinewood Studios, as well as the Mayor of London’s current exploration of a potential 17-acre sit at Dagenham East, but also warned that “it is unclear whether these initiatives will be enough to satisfy future demand”.
Regarding the potential skills shortage, the report suggested that the film industry should “set out firm commitments for how it will support delivery of the BFI’s Future Film Skills strategy [launched in June this year]” within six months.
Investment in emerging mediums
The report also stated that virtual, augmented and mixed reality “are presenting manifold new possibilities” for the UK’s creative industries and called for the government to “ensure the UK builds a reputation as the most highly skilled nation to produce screen-based content that exploits these technologies”.
Responding to the publication of the report, UK business secretary Greg Clark said that the governemnt ”will be working with him [Bazalgette] in the coming months towards a sector deal that helps us grasp the opportunities ahead”.
Culture secretary Karen Bradley added: ”The UK’s creative industries are an economic powerhouse and the government is committed to removing the barriers to its growth. The key challenge now is turning these ideas into a strong partnership, which is credible and has buy-in from both government and industry.”