Meanwhile, the ongoing tight fiscal environment in the UK has created pressures on arts and culture funding as well as on public service broadcasting, and a need for cultural institutions to explore new financial models as well as more holistic ways of measuring the value of culture.
There are also deep-rooted disconnects between traditional industrial policy instruments and the creative industries which constrain the ability of government to support them. These include the area of R&D, where the definitions used by the tax authorities impose a narrow, technical understanding of research and experimental development as the ‘resolution of scientific and technological uncertainties’, excluding advances of knowledge embodied in art, content, or creative experiences.
The benefits to the UK from addressing such policy challenges go beyond the interests of the creative industries. The UK has led the world in promoting and measuring the ‘creative economy’ – that part of the economy where creative talent is deployed for commercial purposes – which includes, but is not restricted to, the creative industries. Research has shown that creative work more generally is more resilient to automation and that, partly as a result, creativity is requiredin occupations that are predicted to grow. Other studies find that firms which transact and partner with creative businesses tend to be more innovative (here and here). This points to the importance of ‘spillovers’ between creative industries and the wider creative economy that policymakers in the UK have yet to grasp.
The creative industries evidence base is also growing, but there are major gaps
As the UK repositions itself after Brexit, we must reconsider the nature of our competitive industrial strengths. How can we retain our reputation as a destination of choice for foreign direct investment, and how can we continue to attract skilled migrants? What are the future international trade priorities from the viewpoint of the creative industries? And what will the answers to these questions mean for the geography of the UK’s creative industries and how will this impact on regional inequality? Policymakers need research and evidence to inform the design of international policies, including trade, investment, migration and regulation – areas where sectoral context and understanding is crucial.
Mirroring the creative industries’ impressive growth figures, there has been growth in academic research on the creative industries. However, major gaps remain in the evidence base. For example, a study of impact case studies relating to the creative and cultural sector submitted as part of the 2014 REF (the system for assessing the quality of research in UK universities), revealed that only 15% reported impacts on economic growth. There is next to no academic research on the creative industries in essential areas like industrial organisation, productivity, R&D, international competitiveness, spillovers, content regulation, business models or risk finance. And while the UK is recognised as an international leader in producing economic statistics on the creative industries, there is now widespread awareness that the Standard Industrial Classification paints a partial and, in some cases, severely distorted picture of industrial reality.
Which is where the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre steps in
The Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC), funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, seeks to address these shortcomings in the evidence base. We want to bring about a step change in the quality and quantity of evidence used to inform decision-making with respect to the creative industries and policies intended to support them. The PEC’s work activities are organised through five overlapping workstrands, each led by an expert UK research centre, and coordinated through a Management Board, chaired by myself. In addition, we have a Policy Unit which is focused on connecting the research and evidence with policymaking.
Your Centre needs you
We won’t be able to research everything that matters, and we will therefore depend critically on the help of industry, policymakers and other researchers to help us identify priorities. We will keep our research agenda relevant, timely and inclusive. So whether you work in industry, finance, are a policymaker, a researcher or just someone who cares about the creative industries, please take a look at the PEC’s partnership models (Industry, Policymakers and Academia) and we see how you can get involved.
Bakhshi, H., Benedikt Frey, C. and Osborne, M. (2015) Creativity vs Robots: The Creative Economy and the Future of Employment, Nesta, available at:
Bakhshi, H., Hope, A., Livingstone, I. and Mateos-Garcia, J.Hope, A. (2011) Next Gen. Transforming the UK into the world’s leading talent hub for the video games and visual effects industries, Nesta, available at:
Oakley, K., Laurison, D., O’Brien, D. and Friedman, S. (2017) Cultural Capital: Arts Graduates, Spatial Inequality, and London’s Impact on Cultural Labour Markets, American Behavioural Scientist, 61(12), pp.1510-1531