4. The First Steps
In 2006 the Creative Economy Programme of the DCMS was launched to continue building on the creative industry policy work of previous administrations. According to the Secretary of State for Culture at this point the creative industry sector was beginning to rival the financial sector. They were growing at 5 per cent per year while making up 7.3 per cent of all of the UK’s economy. This was almost twice the rate compared to the rest of the economy.
A major initiative of the Creative Economy Programme was the commissioning of a study to better understand the balance between the cultural influence of the creative industries and their economic value.
Staying Ahead: the economic performance of the UK’s creative industries expanded on the original five pillars of the creative industries as described in the mapping documents to include “education, skills, diversity, networks, cultural investment and public institutions, access to finance, business skills, the intellectual property framework, access to market, regulation, competition and crucially the collection of evidence and data.”
The usefulness of the 2007 Work Foundation report is its simplification and descriptions of a sophisticated and growing sector while making clear the challenges it must address to continue adapting and innovating. This new breakdown of challenges, areas and sectors now provides a framework for those who remain unconvinced of the value of the creative economy.
The eight areas defined in the report which effect the performance of the creative industries provides policy planning, industry guidance and insight. According to the report the drivers of success in the creative age are (1) demand, (2) diversity, (3) a level playing field, (4) education and skills, (5) networks, (6) the public sector, (7) intellectual property and (8) building better business capacity. (Appendix 24) Importantly for policy planners the report states, “some of these drivers need to be addressed by government; others by the industries themselves,” and adds, “engineering the nature of the response is in all cases complex and frequently multi-layered.”
Not only did the report highlight the drivers of success and the new layered responses needed to build a thriving creative industry it also recognised the shared values which “enlarges cultural meaning and understanding.” The report endorses Professor David Throsby’s dimensions of expressive values which are: aesthetic, spiritual, social, historical, symbolic and authentic. These values create “new insights, delights and experiences; it adds to our knowledge, stimulates our emotions and enriches our lives.” (Appendix 25)
By further delineating the drivers of the creative industries and matching those areas with shared expressive values the report points the way forward for broader participation in the creative economy based on social and economic concerns. It does not say broader participation will be easy but it does offer areas for continued experimentation. The report does “throw up challenges” says the author in his opening foreword, “both for how government support for the creative economy is structured and operates at a number of levels, and for the industries themselves.”
The lesson from the report for individual businesses and agencies is to decide how best to balance the expressive value question of the creative industries with the business aspects of a competitive economy. While for policy planners the report emphasised the limited but important role of government. The sophistication of the industry was now recognised. The various avenues of participation for entrepreneurs, individuals, cultural institutions, finance and regulation were clarified. The original national policy put forward a vision of a creative economy the Work Foundation detailed a viable and growing creative movement. It included economic aspects, social concerns and highlighted the space and various platforms for more people to get involved. The industry had taken a big step forward since 1998.