Creative industries unite behind the 'Year of Creativity'

Janet Hull, OBE and IPA director of marketing
Janet Hull, OBE and IPA director of marketing

The IPA Bellwether, out on the morning of 16 January, was a good omen. Confidence is up, marketing are budgets up. Optimism has returned to the market.

A further boost came in the form of the statistics heralded by Minister of State for Culture Media and Sport, Maria Miller, at the ‘Year of Creativity’ party, hosted by the Creative Industries Council industry Chair, Nicola Mendelsohn, at the IPA, the same evening. 

One in 12 jobs in the UK is now linked to the creative industries. They contribute over £70bn in gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy, well over 5% of the total - or, in plain English, a staggering £8m an hour - and are the fastest growing sector of the UK economy. Advertising and marketing are central to their success, and in many ways, provide the financial glue that binds them together. If it’s not Government, then its brands and advertising that help keep them in business.

Last night’s event was a celebration, but it was more than that. It had teeth and real purpose. It provided the opportunity to bring together the great and the good from all the different sectors; from advertising, architecture, arts and culture, craft, design, fashion, games and software, music, publishing, TV and film; and go public on a collective ambition to build on this momentum, to create more jobs, more inward investment and more exports globally. In the words of Nicola Mendelsohn, "We are a force for economic growth and it will only get better."

Industrial strategy

So what’s the plan? The Creative Industries Council is developing an industrial strategy. It will be the first of its kind for our sector. Other sectors like high-end manufacturing and construction have had one for a long time. Now it’s our turn, and it’s important, because it puts us on the map in terms of Government interest and support, and signifies a level of maturity which gets more recognition.

There are many strands to the strategy, and they may not, at first glance, all appear equally relevant to advertising and marketing; access to finance, IP, data, digital infrastructure, skills, export and inward investment.

When you look closer, however, you can begin to see how, in combination, they safeguard and secure the current and future prosperity of the sector as a whole; and it’s the diversity and scale of the sector which keeps it competitive on the global stage. Take for example, tax breaks and format rights for film, television and games production; they encourage production to stay in the UK, attract investment from overseas, and drive export growth, and, in so doing, keep our production services vibrant and our creative output world-class.

The industrial strategy is being worked on right now, and it will be out mid-year, if not before. There are some ‘big cheeses’ leading the charge: Caroline Norbury of Creative England, John McVay of PACT, Hasan Bakshi of Nesta, Jeremy Silver of the Technology Strategy Board, Tim Lefroy of the Advertising Association, Dinah Caine of Creative Skillset, and Tim Davie of BBC Worldwide.

Tim’s leading on export and inward investment, on the back of notable export successes like Top Gear and the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary series, and it ‘s great to see the commercial arm of the BBC helping to further the commercial creativity of the sector as a whole.

There are two particular initiatives in 2014 that Tim’s helping spearhead with UK Trade and Investment (UKTI). The first is the creation of a 100-strong creative industries taskforce to support what are called, in the jargon of Government,  ‘High Value Opportunities’ (HVO) – essentially they offer business development opportunities to creative businesses and agencies with overseas companies and organisations.

Grants available

MBA and Mother have signed up already, as have a raft of design and technology businesses. It costs nothing, but it does require support. The offer is now closed for the first round, but there will be others coming through. The second is the GREAT week’s series – an opportunity to join UKTI trade missions focused on creative industries, retail, luxury, food & drink in markets from Russia to Hong Kong, China, India, Japan and Mexico. There are grants available for participants.

But, perhaps, the foundation stone of the Year of Creativity initiative is a new website for the creative industries, which Minister Ed Vaizey launched with aplomb at the Year of Creativity party; and this is where the IPA comes in. We’ve led the project, with the support of a steering group of trade organisations from the different sectors, and government agencies, to create a one-stop portal to the whole industry www.thecreativeindustries.co.uk.

Take a look. It’s a showcase to the world of creative success stories, a central resource for facts and figures, a channel for news and views, a conduit to relevant organisations and people, including overseas trade officials for UKTI and FCO in 200 markets worldwide. It’s also a strategic asset. And as the industrial strategy for the creative industries unfolds, it will play an active role in promoting its core themes.

Find out more about the Great Weeks series at www.greatweeks.co.uk

Go to www.thecreativeindustries.co.uk to see how you can contribute stories to the new website

Janet Hull was honoured with an OBE for services to the creative industries in the 2014 New Years honours list

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