Following the launch of Creative England last week, Chairman John Newbigin shares his vision for the new agency.
Why ‘Creative England’? Do we really need another organisation with that word ‘creative’ in the title? Yes, and with good reason. Creative talent, when it’s nurtured, networked and financed is the key driver of the twenty-first century economy. And there seems to be an abundance of it in England – the creative industries account for eight per cent of our national earnings and, perhaps more importantly at the moment, provide almost two million jobs. But we’re not nearly as smart as we could be about developing the skills and channeling the finance that can turn more of that talent into successful businesses.
That’s made worse by the fact that London hoovers up so much of the action, making it more difficult for talent elsewhere in the country to break through – which means people don’t get the chances, good ideas don’t fly, towns and cities lose energy and creative voices don’t get heard.
Creative England’s job is to re-balance that picture – so the name does make sense! Although we’ve only been going for a week or two, we have a huge advantage because we’re building on ten years work by a spread of Regional Screen Agencies. They were set up to help film and TV production in the regions but quickly realised that in the digital world, the dividing lines between different media becomes so blurred as to be almost meaningless and they evolved into organisations that helped creative people start small businesses – and helped small businesses grown into bigger ones.
Along the way they fed the whole British film and television industries with an astonishing flow of talent, stories, and locations. And by using small amounts of public funding they were able to leverage much larger amounts of money from other sources – helping yet more businesses to grow, whether their core expertise was film, television, games or an ever growing range of interactive media products and services.
Creative England’s job will be to pull together all that experience from different parts of the country, giving it more focus and a higher profile
The Regional Screen Agencies were also set up in the belief that just as there is untapped creative talent around the country, there’s unmet hunger from audiences who don’t get access to the wealth of stories and ideas that are being generated by filmmakers around the world, or here in England for that matter. So part of their job was to introduce more people to a wider range of films and filmmakers and that, too, is going to be part of what we do at Creative England, working with film societies and independent cinemas and, of course, exploring the opportunities that are now being made possible by digital distribution and screening.
One of the buzz words of the digital world is ‘networks’ and that’s really what Creative England is all about – helping to connect the wealth of talent and ideas that we know is out there with the money, skills, and markets they need to grow and prosper. Our job is to join up the dots in towns and cities outside London, helping to make sure that creative England is exactly that!
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