Interactive data visualisations of the UK’s creative economy

Today we are publishing two interactive data visualisations that describe the UK’s Creative Economy.

Screen shot of creative economy map data viz
Screen shot of creative economy data viz table

The Creative Economy[1] is diverse, housing artists, computer programmers, architects, designers and many more. An unfortunate by-product of this diversity is that the sector lacks a clear identity, and it can be overlooked in economic debate. But the Creative Economy is extremely important to the UK: it employs 8 per cent of all workers and is growing three times faster than the rest of the economy.

To shed light on this sector we have used data visualisation to answer two basic questions[2]:

  1. Where in the UK is the Creative Economy most concentrated?
  2. Who works in the Creative Economy?

The data visualisations highlight the key features of this sector, and thereby shine a light on the UK’s Creative Economy. In the new year we will be releasing a third visualisation that explores the industries that employ workers in creative occupations.

A note on data visualisation

A data visualisation lets users ‘see the data’. Visualisations can range from simple line charts to these fantastic creations. The strength of a data visualisation lies in its ability to show data efficiently. This efficiency takes two forms:

  1. Efficient use of our visual strength

​Visualisations display data by using features such as colour, size and shape. These features share a unique property: they are 'preattentive' which means that, in certain cases, they can be detected very quickly by the human eye, without the need for focussed attention. In contrast, text is not preattentive and requires effort to extract insights. This point is neatly illustrated by Anscombe's Quartet.

  1. Efficient use of space

Visualisations can contain much more information than a page of text. This allows a visualisation to convey both micro and macro detail within the same space (as illustrated by this visualisation). By using variations in features such as colour and shape, they can comfortably contain multiple data series, enabling the viewer to draw a story from the data (as demonstrated by this famous example). These properties make data visualisation an essential tool in the age of ‘big data’.

We do hope that you find the data visualisations useful and we welcome your feedback.

[1] The ‘Creative Economy’ is defined by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). It includes all jobs (creative and non-creative) inside Creative Industries as well as creative jobs outside the Creative Industries. Creative jobs are selected by the DCMS. Creative Industries are those with a high proportion of jobs that are creative.

[2] All data was provided by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). For more information, please see Creative Industries: Focus on Employment and Creative Industries Economic Estimates.


Cath Sleeman

Cath Sleeman

Cath Sleeman

Head of Data Discovery, Data Analytics Practice

Dr Cath Sleeman is the Head of Data Discovery.

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