Niggling about the CBI Report on the Creative Industries

2011 is going to be a year to remember, one way or another – how the business environment has changed!  Even companies who pride themselves on their adaptability are finding it tough to keep up – it feels like we are being hit from every angle.  I recently had to write about the challenges facing micro and SMEs, both as start ups and as established businesses.  Of course, I mentioned the obvious things – access to finance, access to skills, getting the balance between creating and selling etc, but in the end I think the biggest challenge these days is sheer bloody courage.  As I say in my Creative Entrepreneur masterclass, the successful creative entrepreneur operates out of belief in success rather than fear of failure and it’s true, but if ever there was a time for testing your faith, this is it!  But we all soldier on – customers are changing the way they do things, money is tight everywhere, market places are converging and then disbanding, and unpredictability is the order of the day.   But, with creativity at our core, the creative sector is better placed than most to ride these waves –  so long as we actually use that creativity in this context!

The CBI have recently produced a set of reports on the Creative Industries and they make  interesting reading – yes, really!  Of course, I have some niggles:  the age old question of what constitutes the creative sector – there is a distinct leaning towards  music, publishing, video games, film, design and fashion, focusing on the digital at the expense of the rest.  Idiotic, really – there are virtually no subsectors of creative industries for which digital is not important, and frankly almost none where the digital offer is being fully exploited – although that’s another story!  I seem to have been arguing since even before the RDAs were set up that you cannot pick and choose between digital and traditional  – if you don’t invest in one, you won’t get the others: storytellers, scriptwriters and composers are critical to the success of electronic games;  musicians have to know how to upload and exploit their work themselves; properly thought out marketing campaigns, previously too expensive for sole traders and micro businesses to take seriously, are now so financially accessible that any artist or creative business not fully exploiting social media is being a fool to  herself………the list goes on.

The core point is that creative people, irrespective of which sub sector they nominally belong to, are people who use ‘individual creativity, skills and talent to create potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property’ [DCMS].  The chances are that they are all likely at some stage to want to use their creativity to work across boundaries, collaborating, experimenting, and converging on projects and then moving on.  Thus, pretending that only some are really important is a nonsense.  Even if you look at the subsectors that appear to make most contribution to GDP, the fact remains that they are nurtured, inspired, informed, and underpinned by creative practice in other subsectors.  The Govt invented hybrid that is “The Creative Industries” only gathered any traction at all by pulling together the results from a myriad of subsectors, not just the high earning ones.

And, by the way, I can’t help thinking  that it is most peculiar that Skillset, the skills council that is responsible for film, video, games and so on, claims (and is allowed to claim) to be the sector for the Creative Industries.   They’ve done a great job for their sectors, but what about performing and visual arts, design, music – all critical elements of the creative industries?  CCSkills, the skills council for these industries, needs to be stronger in claiming its territory and one can only hope that, with Paul Latham of Live Nation as their new Chair, their profile and influence  will significantly increase.  It would surely be foolish to ignore the knowledge and experience of someone like Paul – have you met these Live Nation guys?!

More later………..

Anamaria Wills   Anamaria@cida.org

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