The importance of the creative industries to the UK's long-term economic growth and in contributing towards the government's 'levelling up' ambitions was reaffirmed at the 2021 Creative Industries Parliamentary Reception.
At the event, hosted by Chris Matheson MP on behalf of the Creative Industries Council (CIC), government and industry speakers restated the creative industries' growth potential and marked recent progress in helping creative businesses to scale up and cluster together, whilst acknowledging the disruption caused by COVID-19 pandemic.
Julia Lopez MP, Minister for the Creative Industries, said the sector was almost back to pre-pandemic levels, with statistics for Q3 2021 only down 4% on the same quarter of 2019 and employment in June 2021, approximately 200,000 up on 2019.
Minister Lopez said: "One of my priorities is to ensure that the creative industries are recognised as central to the UK’s long-term growth strategy.
"Part of that will be working with you to ensure that the creative industries can deliver on the government’s key objectives as outlined in the Plan for Growth such as Levelling up, Innovation, Global Britain and Net Zero.
"I firmly believe that the creative industries are exceptionally well-placed to deliver on these priorities and much of the work we have been doing together with you since the 2018 Sector Deal has helped put us in a strong position to go even further.
"We have a booming film and high-end TV sector with BFI statistics showing over £2.8 Billion spend on productions in the UK. The field of CreaTech is also rapidly expanding, with a projected increase in investment of 14% for 2021, showing the appetite from both investors and consumers for what we have to offer. It is clear that you are the industries of the future!"
Initiatives such as Creative Scale-Up and the Creative Clusters Programme have supported innovation and growth throughout the UK, and part of the DCMS funding settlement in the government spending review, would be used to expand the Scale-Up programme, she said.
She added that she was looking forward to working with CITIB (the Creative Industries Trade and Investment Board) and the Department for International Trade to ensure creative industries were well positioned to take advantage of "the enormous opportunities that the UK's new global position offers".
Minister Lopez also thanked Tim Davie CBE, the BBC Director-General and departing industry co-Chair of the CIC, for his work in the role, and was delighted to announce that the experienced television executive and author of a previous review of the creative industries, Sir Peter Bazalgette, would take over as CIC industry co-Chair from December 1.
In his speech, Davie said pre-COVID, the creative industries had generated approximately £116bn of Gross Value Added (GVA) for the UK, with a growth rate that was four times the average across the UK economy, with the creative workforce making a bigger economic contribution than the UK's automotive, aerospace, life sciences, and oil and gas sectors combined.
Despite the challenges created by the pandemic, he said there was more confidence than ever in the ability of the creative industries to drive economic development and pointed to several areas of progress since the 2018 creative industries sector deal.
These advances included support for the growth of creative clusters, which number more than 700 in the UK, programmes to help start-ups expand their businesses, the Audience of the Future challenge which encourage creative organisations to develop innovative new formats and experiences, the rollout of creative careers initiatives and ongoing development of creative industries apprenticeships.
In welcoming the announcement of Sir Peter as his successor, Davie said: "This country’s creative industries remain a massive global success story and, despite the immense challenges of Covid, are in a strong position to fuel the UK’s future economic growth – through exports and by enriching lives in towns and cities across our nations and regions."
In his speech, Dr Jeremy Silver, CEO of Digital Catapult and the CIC R&D and Innovation Working Group Chair, pointed to a recent growth in awareness of the value of research and development and innovation across the UK creative industries, and highlighted the use of public funds to prompt larger amounts of private investment into the creative industries.
Dr Silver said: "Creative industries are not strangers to Innovation. But it's most frequently been seen inside individual projects. It's visible in finding workarounds and solutions to technical problems in productions. In exploring new formats for contents, or new means of narrative development...But in the last three years that has begun to change."
He said that on average public investment in innovative creative initiatives attracted approximately three times as much investment from private sources. In the £58m Creative Clusters programme, which is run by the AHRC, he said, there had been £151m of co-investment to date.
"All that investment feeds into the growth of the sector as a whole - increasing our global competitive edge, attracting direct foreign investment into UK companies and creating new high value, high skilled jobs.
"So we must keep supporting that growth with R&D and innovation investment and we should raise it to levels equivalent to the investment in other sectors."
The reception, which was attended by Parliamentarians, industry associations and business owners, was held in the Members' Dining Room of the House of Commons on November 23rd and represented the first in-person Parliamentary event the CIC has held since 2019.
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Image source: Tom Hampson ©Visual Eye