Calling for a UK Centre for AI and the Creative Industries

An open letter to the Chancellor in support of our proposal that the UK establish a centre for AI and the Creative Industries, signed by creative and tech leaders.


Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP. Chancellor of the Exchequer
HM Treasury
1 Horse Guards Road
London SW1A 2HQ

cc: Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP and Caroline Dinenage MP

October 2020


Dear Chancellor, 

We are writing to endorse the establishment of a UK Centre for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Creative Industries in the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review. 

With the creative industries facing major challenges due to COVID-19 it is important that the UK Government complements the necessary support of the sector at this time with investment that helps unlock its long-term growth. A Centre for AI and the Creative Industries represents an opportunity to capitalise on the UK’s existing strengths in both AI and creative activity.

The UK has world leading creative industries, from film, to architecture, computer games, design, art, advertising and more. Prior to COVID-19 the sector was growing at more than twice the rate of the economy as a whole and employing more than two million people. The UK is also a global leader in AI research, behind only the US and China in its activity levels. It has the third highest levels of AI research globally and this ranking is maintained when AI research more specifically relevant for creative activity is examined as Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre work has shown.

AI is finding applications across the creative industries in film, fashion, design, games, art, music and other areas. Digitisation has meant that the raw materials of creative activity, imagery, shapes, text and sound can all be converted into data, opening the way for AI applications while recent AI breakthroughs such as Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) are expanding AI’s creative possibilities at the same time. Examples of the opportunities offered by AI to the sector can be seen in music and film streaming websites’ use of machine learning in their recommendations, in animation companies where AI is starting to automate the rendering of visual effects and in the use of GANs in the creative process in fashion and art.

Currently, there is insufficient recognition of this opportunity in existing policies and structures. The UK has separate sector deals for both AI and the creative industries, but there is no substantive policy recognition of the link between the two domains. For example, of the 75 UKRI Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) announced in 2019, the only centre focussed on the creative industries is the centre in Intelligent Games and Game Intelligence (IGGI). 

With a Comprehensive Spending Review planned in the coming weeks this Government has an opportunity to build on the UK’s complementary strengths by investing in a centre focussing on the application of AI across the creative industries. The centre would help bridge the gap between academic research and practical application. It would provide training and skill development in AI for the creative industries, a gateway for creative businesses wanting to develop AI tools, exposure for academic researchers to the technical issues of applying AI in creative settings and commercial development for AI creative start-ups. Conversely, the centre addresses the risk of the UK creative industries getting left behind in this key future technology as other countries around the world rapidly increase their investment in AI. We therefore endorse its establishment.

Yours Sincerely,

Alex Dromgoole, CEO, Bronze.ai

Andrew Melchior, Founder, 3rd Space Agency

Anna Lowe, Co-founder and Director of Partnerships, Smartify

Ben Terrett, CEO, Public Digital

Bruno Zamborlin, CEO, Hypersurfaces

Caroline Norbury MBE, Chief Executive, Creative England and Creative Industries Federation

Chris Michaels, Director of Digital, Communications and Technology, The National Gallery

Chris van der Kuyl, Chairman, 4J Studios

Professor Darren Cosker, Department of Computer Science, University of Bath

Graham Jack, CTO, Double Negative

Hasan Bakhshi MBE, Director, Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre 

Irina Albita and Maria Tanjala, Co-founders, Big Couch and FilmChain

Janet Hull OBE and Christine Losecaat MBE, Co-Producers, Createch

Jeremy Silver, CEO, Digital Catapult 

Sir John Sorrell CBE, Founder, The Sorrell Foundation

Kadine James, 3D and Creative Technology Lead, Hobs Studio 

Matt Jones, Principal Designer, Google AI 

Professor Mick Grierson, Creative Computing Institute, University of the Arts London

Nigel Carrington, Vice-Chancellor, University of the Arts London

Perry Nightingale, Senior Vice President, Creative AI, WPP 

Scott Wright, Head of Creative & Marketing, XL Records

Tom Adeyoola, Co-founder, Extend Ventures

Contact details

John Davies, Research Fellow Creative and Digital Economy, Nesta - John.Davies@nesta.org.uk

Eliza Easton, Head of Policy Unit, Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre - Eliza.Easton@nesta.org.uk

1 October 2020