Spotlight on creatives

Mar 08, 2018


The UK is famous for its creative industries, from advertising to design, music to architecture - and much else besides. But how much do we really know about the contribution these sectors make to the economy and business communities around the country?

To find out, Nesta, the innovation foundation, has teamed up with the Creative Industries Council, to shine a spotlight on these creative sectors, with its Creative Nation survey. Here are some of the standout findings…

  • Powering ahead: The creative industries are no strangers to growth, expanding twice as fast as the UK average between 2011 and 2016. And contrary to popular belief, they aren’t all based in London and the South East, with creative hotspots to be found right across the country.
  • They stick together: Creative clusters are like magnets, with creative companies more likely to be concentrated in a few locations than firms in other sectors. More than half (53 per cent) of employment and 44 per cent of businesses are found in the top five creative locations.
  • They’re small but mighty: Despite being more productive - for their size - than other sectors, creative businesses are held back by their comparatively small size. This means they can’t make as bigger dent on overall productivity as larger businesses.
  • Neighbourly collaboration: There’s also evidence that if one location is strong in a particular creative industry, this rubs off on its neighbours, suggesting more collaboration could boost this even further.
  • Creative characteristics: Creative clusters aren’t all the same, with their own individual characteristics. Different creative breeds include: incipient clusters, creative conurbations, creative districts, creative challengers and creative capitals.
  • Infectious creativity: AI analysis suggests that creativity is catching, with non-creative companies becoming more creative when based in creativity clusters.  
  • Sharing creative knowledge:  Creative industries are also increasingly partnering with universities around the country, supported by a boost in funding from Research Councils UK and Innovate UK.
  • Creative connections: And finally, as any Brew member or lovely newsletter reader will know, professionals in the creative sector love getting together, with 1,700 creative meet-ups across the UK, involving over 180,000 individuals. 

There’s little doubt that the creative industries make a huge contribution to the UK economy and those around them. But, to really fulfil their potential, creative businesses could be setting their sights even higher. By scaling their operations, their positive influence will become even greater, and they’ll make their presence felt on overall productivity levels too. UK Government, take note!

For more details of the survey and implications check out the full results here.