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Creative industries’ ‘key role’ in UK economy

March 19, 2014

A report analysing the vibrancy and diversity of the UK’s creative industries – music, film, television, advertising, the arts, and publishing – and the digital and telecommunications infrastructure that underpins it, has been welcomed by a range of industry players.

The report – written by Enders Analysis and Bain & Company, the global business consultancy – was launched at Creative UK, an event organised by Enders Analysis and held at the BT Centre.

Among the findings:

  • The creative industries are at the centre of the digital transformation of the UK economy thanks to consumers’ embrace of technology
  •  The number of creative businesses has grown by 17 per cent to 222,000 since 2010 (compared to a 3 per cent rise in the wider baser of 2.1m registered business), with countless more sole traders engaged in software, music and the live arts
  • Britain is the world’s leading exporter of television formats and headquarters to six of the 10 largest global production groups
  •  Britons have embraced e-commerce: average spend was £1,175 per head, almost twice as much as the US and more than three times the figure for Germany
  • The UK is a pioneer in digital advertising: in 2013, 36 per cent of UK advertising was online, twice as much as in the US, and far more than most leading nations
  • Government support for entrepreneurship is the cornerstone of the creative economy, and more can be done on commercial skills

Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, introduced the event by emphasising the key role of the sector in the UK economy. It accounts for 5.2 per cent of gross value added and 1.7 million jobs (directly), growing faster than the economy as a whole since 2010.

Claire Enders, founder and CEO of Enders Analysis, pointed to the UK’s rapid rate of business creation in recent years as a source of optimism, a testament to the UK’s tradition of entrepreneurship, and to the new opportunities of the digital age. Record levels of e-commerce in the UK are driving the digital transformation of retailing, advertising and media consumption. The UK leads Europe in the availability and adoption of ‘superfast’ broadband.

Dame Gail Rebuck, Chair of Penguin Random House UK, spoke of the talent of UK publishers in delivering wonderful stories to entertain, inspire and change people’s lives. This talent made the UK consumer book market worth £5 billion in 2012 and a major contributor of source material to the other creative industries. Ebooks are expanding consumer choice but for publishing and storytelling to continue to thrive, it is important that the Government continues to protect the value of copyright and invest in literacy.

Alex Mahon, CEO of Shine Group, said that British television is watched and loved around the world and that increased choice has seen the audience flock to quality. Britain is the number one exporter of television formats in the world – it is 13 times better than the US when adjusted for scale – and now the headquarters of six of the 10 largest global production groups. This great British story is enabled by a unique and complex eco-system of creative, public and private sectors, the safeguarding and maintenance of which is essential.

James Purnell, Director, Strategy and Digital at the BBC, focused on the vital role of the BBC in the UK’s creative economy. The corporation invests over £1 billion a year outside the BBC in the UK TV and radio sectors, and contributes to a competition for quality with ITV and others. The BBC also helps create markets in which others can thrive: its support of the Freeview platform brought multichannel TV to the mainstream, and the iPlayer encouraged home broadband use and online video viewing.

Josh Berger, President and Managing Director, Warner Bros. UK, Ireland and Spain, said it was time to reappraise the perception of the UK’s film industry and recognise it as a world-beating, global business. British cinema is enjoying a new golden age thanks in part to the significant inward investment, infrastructure and skills that the success of the Harry Potter franchise brought to the UK. British cinema is a significant economic driver and needs continued investment in talent and a robust legal framework if it is to continue to thrive.

Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and CEO of WPP, highlighted the pioneering nature of the UK’s advertising industry. The UK played a key role in shaping the modern communications business, developing the ‘science’ behind brand campaigns and setting the bar for creative excellence. The UK continues to be a magnet for talent and has produced many of today’s global leaders in digital and interactive marketing.

Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair of Arts Council England, emphasised how arts and culture lie at the heart of the UK’s creative industries. Despite funding challenges, digital represents a great opportunity for the arts sector. He highlighted the Arts Council’s creative media policy aiming to deepen the supply of digital content.

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