DCMS blog

Britain’s creative industries really do lead the world. Don’t they?

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Ed Vaizey MP

Ed Vaizey was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries in May 2010 and promoted to Minister of State for Culture and Digital Industries in 2014.

I’m used, as a Minister, to talking about the massive economic contribution that our creative industries make to the UK economy. So it’s important that we know in as much detail as possible what is actually happening on the ground.

‘Creative industries’ don’t actually get their own section in the Office of National Statistics ‘Blue Book’, which lists all the economic outputs of the UK. So, over the years, DCMS has identified the data that shows us the economic impact of the creative industries. In fact, it’s probably not exaggerating to say we lead the world in the methodology for measuring the creative industries.
In 1998, DCMS published its ground-breaking Creative industries mapping document, which attempted to define and measure the creative industries for the first time. Since then, our approach has been replicated internationally, and we have adapted this measurement over time.
Huge and rapid changes in the use of technology and digital media in the creative industries means that it’s time to take a full review of our classifications. So, I asked that a specialist technical working group of the Creative Industries Council be set up to discuss our classification with partners and industry.
Working with NESTA, Creative Skillset and Creative and Cultural Skills, we have taken a systematic approach to reviewing the current DCMS classification.
designer at work
This approach uses the idea of “creative intensity,” which is a well-established approach in the field. This starts by looking at exactly what people are doing in their jobs, and from this, identifying creative occupations (using, alongside professional judgment, NESTA’s set of five criteria for assessing creative occupations).
We then look across all industries, and those which have a substantial proportion of people doing creative jobs – those industries which have a high “creative intensity” – are proposed to be classified and measured as creative industries.

Consistent approach

We want to focus on where that creative activity happens, and to take a fair and consistent approach across all sectors. That’s why we are proposing to drop a couple of areas that used retail sales as a measure (the sale of arts and antiques for example). Digital tools are now utterly embedded in the creative process, so we want to introduce some areas of IT that are used creatively. And, of course, we want to retain the creative activities that will always drive the industry, including the contribution musicians, artists and designers make.
We’re putting our proposals out for consultation. We want to hear from trade associations, industry, public sector bodies, academics; literally all interested parties, so we can take their expertise to create a result that really reflects our world-leading creative industries.
We recognise that there are always limitations in what we can measure and are open to suggestions on how to overcome them: that’s why we’re consulting now. If there is a better way to measure your sector, which can be applied consistently across all the creative industries please do let us know.
Just as our creative sector leads the world, we want to continue to lead the field in the way we measure it. These industries focus on innovation and are absolutely vital for UK growth, and I want to make sure the way we’re measuring their contribution does them justice.

Have your say

So I’d really encourage all who have an interest to contribute to our consultation – or if you just want to point us in the right direction to other evidence, tweet @DCMS using #CreativeMeasures. And, as with any debate with our feisty and sparkling creative sector, I know it’ll be a lively one.

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