Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Staying ahead: the economic performance of the UK’s creative industries - The Digested Read

You were expecting something else weren't you? Not red but green? Well, you'll have to wait as there's a new boy in the top job and we're not really sure how this is all going to pan out.

I'm Will Hutton and the Creative Industries drive me bonkers. I've been asked by the government to distract you from the lack of progress on policy by regurgitating some three year old statistics and putting it in a report that's so long I guarantee you'll never be bothered to get to the end of it. It's got lots of tables in it and tons of stats and every now and again I say something really insightful. And before we go any further I've been asked to point out how great Doctor Who is.

Anyway, first thing to say is that we are really proud of our stats, they're big and fat and meaty. Take this one for a start:

Stat one: The Creative Indutries are as valuable as the Financial Sector. That's 7.3% of GVA.

LIke it? Go on have another:

Stat Two: We employ 1.8 million lovies.

You man enough to take another one? 'Ave some of this:

Stat Three: We're growing faster than the economy as a whole

Hang on, that last one is kind of true but if you look closely you'll find that growth in the creative industries is like a rollercoaster, sorry I mean it's cyclical. Actually it's pro-cyclical. When the economy dips we dip big-time and when it grows we grow big, big-time.

And that's about it really. What? You want to know what's in the other 277 pages? What happened to the endless consultation on a range of topics we did with seemingly the entire UK creative sector? Well don't worry, we've listened to your concerns and put them in pride of place in an appendix at the back. Actually, that section at the back is worth a read as it concerns my favourite subject:

Why measuring the Creative Industries is really, really difficult:

  1. They don't follow standard industry employment classifications. For example, the DCMS doesn't give an official firgure for the Video and Computer Games sector and can't do until a new code comes into force in 2009.
  2. Although we've got a catergory for 'design' the government don't actually have an accurate way to count it. Instead, like in many other areas, we rely on third party figures. In this instance they come from the ‘Design Industry Valuation Survey’ but they're not comparable with the way we collect data for other sectors and we don't trust them as far as we can throw them.
  3. And if you work in 'multimedia' or 'interactive design' or anything remotely web-based then you might be tucked away under publishing or software services or might even be part of advertising.

Overall though everything is okay. Just look at our glossy case studies, they prove it. The Rolling Stones, Kylie at the V&A, kiddies watching flims - it's all marvellous. No really, I may be a bit grumpy about all this but the creative industries are important and we ignore them at our peril. To be serious for a moment, it's now the job of government to learn how to count, to give clear guidance on fundemental issues like copyright and above all shift from a culture of subsidy and grants for the creative industries to one of investment and growth.

The Digested Read, digested: The Long and Winding Road


Anton said...

I find it very interesting that what you describe as 'pro-cyclical' tendencies within the creative industries are not explored more thorough, when reading the work foundations provocation paper An Accidental Success I noticed numbers that showd numers of the creative industries growth following the economy, but twice as big changes, both negative and positive. Is there any work done on this phenomena?

Dave Harte said...

Hi Anton,
I can't recall any specific further work that's been done on this. Just for your reference it appears that the dot.com crash was responsible for one of the big dips in 2000-2001 and the recent underperformance of the design sector was repsonsible for another. It's the continued high growth in the software sector keeps the overall growth figure for the creative industries high.


susi oneill said...

nicely summed up, Dave. I haven't made it through til the end yet, though the tome makes a good laptop riser... The Dr Who pictures definitely my highlight.
The problem with it all, I think, is objectivity, saying what "we" (i.e. creative industries creators/leeches) want to hear - the NESTA Entrepeneurship Education is interesting because there seems to be a conflicting factoid that actually creative ind. have decreased by 0.5% of overally economy in last 5 years, and design sector is down 40%.
I don't think this tome does anything to really address or help create opportunities to negate this. It says nothing new.
I hear Will Hutton is 'off Creative Industries' now and won't come out and play. Know how he feels...