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Northern England’s Creative Industries

High Street

The Creative Industries are already a driver of growth across the UK economy. Export-intensive and major employers, they also attract significant investment from overseas. Large and small clusters of creative businesses up and down the country are the engines behind this growth, which also provides additional benefits that accrue to other individuals, businesses, and places (otherwise known as spillovers). These benefits are not just economic but also cultural, intellectual, and social in nature.

There is a clear opportunity for the North of England to develop a cross-regional strategy to support the growth of the Creative Industries. Clusters of intense creative activity in the North are more geographically dispersed than those in the super-cluster that is London and the South East of England, which is dominated by the capital. As such, it would benefit from a coordinated plan which builds on existing strengths and maintains local specificities. Such a strategy would not be a zero-sum game: previous research by Nesta suggests that regional ‘rivals’ are more successful when they work together to grow their Creative Industries.

The opportunity is considerable. As a share of the local economy, the creative industries in the North currently contribute less than 3% to GVA. In London and the South-East, this sector share is closer to 10%. If the North were to grow its sector share even relatively modestly the grow benefits would be considerable. For example, if the sector share rose to around half levels in London and the South-East, this would be equivalent to a GVA boost of around £10 billion by 2030.

This background paper sets out how policymakers and industry could work together to realise this potential, via ‘creative corridors’.

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