Tuesday 26 September 2017

Bazalgette launches review of the UK's creative industries

Bazalgette launches review of the UK's creative industries Wikipedia

Sir Peter Bazalgette was recently invited by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport to conduct an independent review into the countrie's creative sector. That review has now been submitted and published, with "cautiously optimistic" being its general tone. Wisely, Bazalgette and the report's authors Boston Consulting Group have costed up a set of recommendations, and put them to the government as a "take it or leave it" offer.

Bazalgette wants to see his recommendations form part of the government's industrial strategy, which remains a work in progress. He sees the impact of them being a more diverse creative workforce; a more balanced workforce, between London and the rest of the UK; an extra 1m jobs; and a 3.9% annualised GVA.

None of these are easy to achieve in isolation. The creative industries are far too white and far too male and, although the public sector (for example, funding programmes) attempts to counter this, the private sector - the media, in particular - is way behind. The same goes for the London imbalance; both the public and private sectors will need to undergo seismic change in order to reduce their investment and activites in London and spread them elsewhere. And, as for the extra 1m jobs and GVA, while Bazalgette is making a point-in-time recommendation, the continued nightmare of Brexit and the ongoing UK-EU negotiations might completely destroy any hopes here. Or, it might not.

A summary of Bazalgette's recommendatoins is as follows:

  • Build non-London growth through a Creative Clusters fund (shouldn't Creative England be doing that already?)
  • Identify and invest in creative leadership (ditto - Clore Fellowship?)
  • Investigate as to whether the current low takeup of R&D tax credits can be improved
  • Increase Innovate UK funding to the creative sector
  • Improve IP management and protection, both at governmental and organisational level
  • Develop "speed dating" between investors and companies (what is this, 1998?)
  • Invest into the UK Games Fund

That's pretty much it. If none of these recommendations are particularly surprising to you, then that's perhaps the point. In a time of great economic, social and political turmoil, it simply isn't worth thinking radically only for that thinking never to be executed. Bazalgette has aimed to be pragmatic here, with the overall recommendation pretty much being "do what you do now, just do it better".

The recommendations regarding non-London investment and activity aren't hugely strong, either. A section on existing creative clusters refers to one of Brighton's advantages as "Proximity to London", which is rather unhelpful for the report. There really isn't much here which isn't already acknowledged or recommended; Birmingham, a city currently experiencing massive growth in the creative industries, isn't even mentioned (but then, neither is Oxford, perhaps the dullest city in the UK).

Otherwise, the report does help to expose the risk coming from other countries and regions, particularly the Far East, where specific industries within the wider creative industry, such as video game production, is increasing exponentially. If the UK is to remain a world leader in certain industries, it must also consider as to whether it just wants to be a leader in the Anglosphere.

The full report is here. We would welcome your own views on the report and, indeed, what your recommendations would be.

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