The creative economy is the UK’s unspoken success story, historically deeply rooted and making up one-tenth of the whole economy. It accounts for 2.6 million jobs – from advertising professionals to computer programmers, and from actors to video games developers – more than advanced manufacturing, financial services and construction.
It also has another advantage: creative jobs are hard to automate. This is important, because it looks like the world is on the verge of a robot revolution in which more and more once-steady jobs are replaced by machines.
The UK has the potential to generate a million new creative jobs. But for this to happen, we need the right skills and infrastructure to support it.
1. End the bias against multi-disciplinary education in our education system – turning STEM into STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics).
- An arts subject in the English Baccalaureate. At present, young people who are strong in sciences are positively discouraged from considering the arts as a valuable complement.
- Government to ask universities, including The Russell Group, to include the arts in their list of ‘facilitating subjects’ that students are advised to choose to keep their university options open, and to drop them from ‘non-preferred’ lists of subjects by those universities that publish them.
- Research Councils to boost the technological capabilities of UK art schools (and their demand for students studying a mix of arts and science in schools) by setting up centres based on the ESRC and Nuffield Foundation’s Q-Step Model.
2. Encourage burgeoning creative clusters throughout the UK so that the whole nation fully capitalises on its creativity.
- BIS to set up a competitive £100 million fund using Regional Growth Fund money to develop Creative Clusters throughout England, with matched funding from the private sector and other funding sources.
- The government to support ultra high-speed broadband in Creative Clusters by providing a targeted £100 million infrastructure demonstrator fund (This compares, for example, with the £43 billion that government is planning to spend on HS2). These creative neighbourhoods are best placed to be the earliest to exploit these speeds. Adopters would be tracked, with the advent of any benefits acting as a trigger for consideration of more widespread roll out.
3. Make arts funding go further.
- Direct at least 1 per cent of public arts funding to Research & Development.
- Larger funders like Arts Council England and Creative Scotland should also between them commit £10 million each year to piloting innovative financing schemes like venture funding and accelerators. These measures could alone attract up to £72 million in additional money for the arts through matched funding.
- Set up a separate video games National Lottery distributor which, following the example of the British Film Institute, would champion a breadth of bold and distinctive games development across the UK, nurturing new talent and enriching UK culture.