Minister of State for Digital and Culture, Matt Hancock, has praised the economy-boosting creative industries sector in the UK as he set out his vision for the future of the sector.
In his first speech to the creative industries at an event at the BFI Southbank since being appointed to the role, following Prime Minister Theresa May’s Government reshuffle, Hancock highlighted how the sector is outperforming most other parts of the UK economy, generating more than £84 billion (€100bn) a year, and employment in the sector growing at three times faster than the national average.
The Minister highlighted how the sector will be key to showing how open, welcoming and outward looking the UK is to the rest of the world and that the sector’s interests will be well represented in any Brexit negotiations. He also stressed the importance of creating a more diverse sector to work in – one that works for everyone not just the privileged few.
Speaking at the event organised by the Creative Industries Federation, a national membership organisation for the sector, he spoke about the growing links and opportunities between the digital and creative sectors, and how people are increasingly able to meld time-honoured craft with cutting edge technology.
“We are passionately committed to the success of our creative industries, not only because of the jobs you create and the opportunities you provide, but because of the lives you enrich, the horizons you broaden, the imaginary worlds you unlock for millions,” he said, addressing the challenges for the sector following the UK’s vote to leave the EU. “Yes, there will be challenges to overcome but we are committed to ensuring that as we prepare to leave the European Union we do so in a way that protects the British economy and ensures Britain remains an attractive destination for investment.”
“We’ve said we want to build an economy that works for everyone not just the privileged few,” he stated, turning his attention to diversity and access. “Your sector is potentially one of the greatest forces for openness and social mobility we have because talent knows no boundaries. No one should be excluded from any of your industries because of their accent, their gender, or their postcode… But access means more than just access to creative industry jobs. We also need to improve geographical access to arts, culture and creativity. It’s about diversity in all its forms: it’s about social mobility as well as gender, ethnicity, disability or sexual identity.”
Addressing the rise of digital, Hancock said the Government’s aim was to have not only the best content in the world, but also the best digital platforms on which to display it. “That means treating fast, reliable connectivity as the fourth utility, as essential to modern life as access to water or electricity. It means both digital and artistic skills getting the attention they deserve in education,” he declared. “It means a culture that is deeply supportive of enterprise, of creativity, of innovation. Where if anyone around the world wants to test an innovation – to try their cutting edge health practices on patients or literally road-test a driverless car, they look to the UK first. We are living through a period of profound innovation and the digital revolution has brought huge challenges.”