A Good Year for the Creative Industries

From a recent article in the House Magazine

Our creative industries have had a good year, with plenty of attention from policymakers, not least me and my Lib Dem colleagues.

At the grassroots level, entertainment licensing for small venues will see further deregulation for audiences of up to 500. A thoughtful CMS Select Committee report has proposed a regional rebalancing of arts funding.

In taxation, the games tax credit has been cleared by the EU, the new theatre production credit introduced and in the recent Autumn Statement a new tax credit for children’s television programming and orchestral performance were announced. Film tax relief has been made more flexible for visual and special effects, and animation and high-end drama tax credits have already led to significant UK investment.

New treatment of losses under peer-to- peer lending or crowd funding have also been announced which will make them even more viable as sources of finance in the sector.

This year the Creative Industries Council published CREATE UK, its strategy for the creative industries. As a result, a major programme of skills development and diversity projects under the Employer Ownership of Skills pilot has been put together under the leadership of Channel 4, Creative Skillset and Creative Access and co-funded by government and the private sector.

In the wake of the EBacc controversy, this year we have seen increasing advocacy in academia and industry of the virtues of STEAM versus STEM, and Progress 8 performance measures are now in the pipeline which will recognise this.

As regards infrastructure, the Autumn Statement pledged £141m towards the creation of a new cultural and creative quarter in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park by the V&A, Sadlers Wells, UCL and the University of the Arts which will be transformative. The Factory will be a major cultural asset for Manchester and the north-west.

Overseas the prospects look good too. This year a new film co-production treaty has been signed with the Chinese government along with a Global Digital Media and Entertainment Alliance. Tim Davie and the CIC have produced the UK Creative Industries International Strategy.

UKTI and the BPI’s Music Export Growth Scheme launched last year is already showing its worth.

IP is a vital building block for the creative industries. The Copyright Hub, designed to simplify and enhance copyright licensing under its new director Dominic Young, with the assistance of the Connected Digital Economy Catapult, is making great strides. The £3.5m the Government is contributing over three years to Creative Content UK – the industry IP awareness campaign – is also welcome.

But there is still much more to do to deliver on the promise that our creative industries present. How will we know that the creative industries are really embedded in the parties’ thinking in terms of their economic importance, the value of creative education and the impact on our culture? How many lines will be devoted to these issues in the parties’ forthcoming main manifestos?

How many ideas will be absorbed from some of the concrete proposals put forward by the CIC, NESTA, UKIE, PACT, UK Music, CBI, the Publishers Association and many others? Will the manifestos recognise the opportunities of the digital economy and the convergence with the tech sector?

Despite all the good news, we shouldn’t hold our breath.

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