This week the UK government launched its new industrial strategy green paper , and consultation. It states that the Creative Industries are one of the five priorities. This follows on a consultation process involving AHRC and Innovate into how to spend a £4b+ Challenge Fund. We urge everyone who is involved in creative work to take the time to contact people, and respond to these two important sources of funds and support for creatives in the UK.
In Four Solutions for the Creative Industries BCre8ive identified key areas for improvement.
We need to be more collaborative in our overall approach to the Creative Industries. This will involve re-thinking our national support structures and peer review systems within the creative environment, developing effective outreach strategies to create greater diversity, and taking risks on new platforms/global audiences. Pursuing such practices in existing companies and funding schemes, will shorten development time, and raise our overall success rate.
“Getting the right people and the right chemistry is more important than getting the right idea.” Ed Catmull
In this context, there is a need to recognise the importance of freelancers, and micro-companies, not only in promoting creativity, but also in improving our chances of success. Therefore, greater support for creative freelance training and a wider access to funded mentoring is key to growing the C.I. sector.
How can this be achieved?
There are four key infrastructure and innovative investment activities to ensuring we achieve collectively the best output. However, none of this will be possible if we do not start from where we are, and know what our goals are in planning a new future for creatives in the UK.
Over 40% of the Creative Sector is freelance, in addition the vast majority of companies have less than 10 employees. Therefore, our first task is to support these creative hubs in ways which enhance their ability to develop new works and take them to audiences without burdening them with top down structures.
The first is the provision of high end broadband across the country to ensure creatives can work anywhere – thus reducing the importance of London as the creative digital centre.. The second is to recognise we do not need physical hubs – anyone visiting in a popular, wifi-free coffee bar or public arts centre knows that creatives already use these as their bases all the time. However, we do need a vastly improved cross sector digital network providing low cost access to training, tools, and development support.
Thirdly we need seed investment to take projects from initial concept to market readiness, and fourth a new marketing strategy for freelancers and micro-companies to compete in the global web-based distribution space.
The first of these is currently rolling out under ofcom regulation. The sooner the better, with a reach, and realistic cost, into every part of the UK. One freelancer was quoted £4000+ on top of a government subsidy to install fast broadband to their office – in London!
The second requires new investment in a digital cross platform network, supported by major creatives, and incorporating creative mentors, online development support, university creative teams plus local and national cross sector co-ordination.
“Creativity is just connecting things. ” Steve Jobs
The third requires recognising ‘sweat capital’ in the creative sector R&D as much as it is within tech and science. Also supporting freelancers and micro companies to gain access to tax credits, and SEIS and EIS funds. In addition, the creation of an educational programme for investors into how effective creative sector investment can be, and how to support a portfolio approach.
Finally, investment in the setting up of a social media and web-based marketing and distribution network for freelancers and micro companies. A network which combines the benefits of platforms such as ‘Kickstarter’, with brand creation, fandom, digital content creation, and equity investment.
If we succeed in these areas we will ensure a more inclusive sector, with a national spread, with a global potential for GVA growth, and employment opportunities, which are less susceptible to automation in 21st century.
This is to say nothing of potentially 10,000s, if not 100,000s, happy creatives and millions of new audience members.