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Creative Economy, CIC

Most LEPs in England prioritising creative industries

June 28, 2022
Published on:
June 21, 2022
In places like Bristol (above) creative industries are helping to reinvigorate local areas. (Image source: Tom Fleming)

A report commissioned by industry members of the Creative Industries Council (CIC) from Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy has analysed how local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in England treat supporting the creative industries as a priority.

The 'Place Matters' report shows that:

  • Local authorities of all sizes and types are supporting the development and growth of the creative industries. This is driven by economic development priorities and a more holistic embrace with cultural planning for place making.
  • The majority of LEPs in England see the sector as a priority, either alongside other growth areas or uniquely so. The creative industries are recognised for the spillover effects they generate e.g. to tourism, innovation and inward investment.
  • Analysis of recent targeted funding schemes shows the range of ways that creative industries are being positioned as means to regenerate and reinvigorate places and provide opportunities for young people.
  • Lack of finance, flexibility, and capacity are the biggest barriers preventing authorities doing more to support the sector. Growing creative skills – providing new pathways for people into employment - is the largest unfulfilled priority.

The report also coincides with the publication of resources by the creative industries Policy & Evidence Centre (PEC) for people working with local authorities who are considering investing in creative industries via the Shared Prosperity Fund as part of the UK government's 'Levelling Up' agenda. The pages include headline statistics about the Creative Industries, best practice on how to source and use data for research, a guide to the key characteristics of the sector, plus blogs, policy and more.

In his foreword to 'Place Matters', Sir Peter Bazalgette, Industry Chair of the CIC, writes: "National policy levers are essential in unlocking industry capabilities. But the day-to-day realities of starting and growing a successful creative business ultimately happen within place. Whether it’s being able to access talented staff with the right skills, or the advice and support you need to develop an SME: investing, innovating and exporting.

"This is heavily influenced by the local, creative clusters which dominate our sector. And so local authorities and LEPs are key partners in creating the conditions for our sector to thrive. And critical holders of intelligence as to where the talent and the opportunities lie."

The study includes a set of areas for consideration for development of place-based creative industries through a national policy lens, with future investment in mind such as the Shared Prosperity Fund.

To boost the growth of place-based creative industries which impact on the local and national economy as well as on the vibrancy of places, the document says the following might be considered:

  • Adopt a two-lane approach: Invest in proven success and unlock the potential of the established clusters alongside support for micro-clusters and smaller towns and rural areas with emerging strengths.
  • Build and strengthen place-based networks and networks which connect places (e.g. at a sub-regional level or for similar types of place, such as major cities or coastal towns) - to facilitate knowledge exchange, encourage aggregation and boost the confidence of smaller places and rural areas which are relatively new to creative industries development.
  • Champion a renaissance on creative education and skills. While there is nationwide recognition of the need to foster a stronger and more diverse creative industries talent pipeline, the current system is too piecemeal with local authorities often lacking the levers required to make significant impact.
  • Enhance data and evidence. Many local authorities have commissioned their own baseline research and creative industries strategies. These have played an important role in building an evidence-based approach, enhancing partnership and lifting confidence. Yet the methodologies significantly vary and local baseline data is rarely connected to other local baseline studies, limiting opportunities for benchmarking and the co-identification of priorities and actions.
  • Position arts and culture as foundational to creative Industries innovation and growth. ‘Whole place’ approaches which strengthen the strategic alignment between arts, culture and the creative industries are increasingly important. This includes the use of heritage buildings and other heritage assets for contemporary cultural and creative production. Arts and culture provide the talent and innovation for much of the creative industries and it is clear local authorities understand this in the ways they are applying for funding.
  • Support a place-based ‘quadruple helix’. Existing creative industries clusters thrive on a quadruple helix of universities, enterprise, civil society and community working together to boost innovation. The greater the inter-dependence of these actors, the stronger the creative cluster. Across England, opportunities exist to strengthen and coordinate quadruple helix activities to put culture and the creative industries to the heart of civic renewal; and to connect smaller places to these centres of scale and innovation.
  • Connect place-based approaches to international opportunities. More consideration can be given to support the internationalisation of place-based approaches. London thrives as a global creative city and this potential extends to cities across England. Many creative firms today are born global, trading as part of international value chains and collaborating across both national borders and sectoral boundaries. By nurturing excellence and innovation in place-based creative industries activity, the UK’s international standing and trade will benefit.

Download and share the full report.

Image source: Tom Fleming

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