Our new report uses official, open and web data to map the creative industries in the UK.
Creative Nation uses official, open and web data to map the creative industries in the UK, their evolution, contribution to local economic development, the strength of their support ecosystems - including research and informal networking - and their connections with each other. Ultimately, it seeks to contribute to our understanding of the sector and inform the best policies to support it. It has been created by Nesta in collaboration with the Creative Industries Council.
Eight key findings
1. The creative industries are a motor of growth in local economies across the UK, and not just in London and the South East of England: Regions from the South West, to Yorkshire and the Humber, to the West Midlands are also experiencing the benefits. Between 2011- 2014 and 2015-2016, the creative industries in the average local economy increased by 11 per cent, twice as fast as in the rest of the economy.
2. The creative industries concentrate in a small number of locations: 53 per cent of employment and 44 per cent of businesses are found in the top five locations (the equivalent percentages in other sectors are 32 per cent and 30 per cent respectively).
3. Although creative businesses are more productive than comparably sized businesses, they will not materially contribute to addressing the UK’s productivity problems unless they scale-up significantly. When we control for size, creative businesses tend to be more productive than companies in other sectors in almost all parts of the country. Ninety-four per cent of the companies in the sector are, however, micro-businesses (10 per cent more than in other sectors), which limits the sector’s ability to lift regional productivity.
4. Regional rivals should work together to grow their creative industries: For example, locations that saw their neighbours become more specialised in IT, software and computer services were almost 80 per cent more likely to become more specialised in that sub-sector too.
5. Not all creative clusters grow in the same way: We have segmented locations into five creative cluster models: incipient clusters, creative conurbations, creative districts, creative challengers and creative capitals.
6. The wider creative economy is also stronger in creative clusters: Our analysis of website data scraped by GlassAI, a big data startup, suggests that companies in non-creative industry sectors operating in creative clusters tend to be more creative too.
7. UK universities connect with creative industries locally and nationally: Research collaborations between universities and creative industries supported by Research Councils UK and Innovate UK are growing over time, with funding levels more than doubling between 2006 and 2017. Universities are collaborating with creative industries in their locality, in neighbouring areas and in other parts of the UK.
8. Creative communities are interconnected and the diversity of connections increases over time: We have identified 1,700 creative meet-ups in the UK with participation of over 180,000 unique individuals. These communities interact locally and with those around them forming hubs of activity in advertising and marketing in the West Midlands, crafts and making in the North West, and design across the South West and Wales.
Our results show that the creative industries have a good deal of potential to further support employment growth and entrepreneurialism right across the UK. The sector has expanded faster than others in most local economies, beyond London and the South East, and there are locations with strong critical masses of employment and business activity in every region and nation. The fact that creative growth in a location appears to benefit its neighbours is consistent with the idea that investments in these creative hubs might also pull up the local economies around them, while the relation between creative industries clustering and wider adoption of creative practices in businesses suggests that those investments might also make other sectors more productive too.
Notwithstanding these opportunities, the creative industries are unlikely to make a dent in the UK’s productivity problem unless policymakers can increase the number of high productivity growth scale-up businesses. But to do this, they will need to pay critical attention to local context. Different locations across the UK follow a multitude of cluster development models, and what works in one location might not necessarily work elsewhere.
The analysis, data and interactive visualisations we are releasing together with Creative Nation serve as a resource to design, target and monitor such spatially aware policies.
Juan Mateos Garcia, Joel Klinger and Konstantinos Stathoulopoulos