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How Big? That Big!

A few surprises and some good sense in a new report on growing the cultural and creative industries. The picture it paints is recognisable:
“The majority of enterprises in the creative industries are micro businesses (95%) – businesses that employ fewer than 10 people.”
“With an average number of 3.3 employees, many creative enterprises consist of a core team with freelancers contracted to provide specific skills, services, and products where needed.”
“Creative enterprises were most likely to attribute their turnover growth to:
* Focusing on brand and profile (44%)
* Building a larger client/customer base (44%)”.

The report directly addresses Brexit, recommending a review of how European Structural Funds have benefited the sector so that its domestic replacement is properly scoped. The recommendation for continued involvement in EU sectoral programmes (Creative Europe, Erasmus+, H2020) will also need a significant financial commitment for UK organisations to ‘pay their way’. Hopefully the delivery will be through the devolved Parliaments who have the policy frameworks and delivery mechanisms, but the money comes from the money returned to UK Government by the EU.

Tackling the UK’s infamous centralist politics and institutions will also be important. EU funding played a key role in tackling sectoral London-centrism and the hoarding of investment in the South East of England, so many of us will be hoping to see some commitment to maintaining this decentralising approach.

The report’s recommendations about creative subjects in education is welcome given the dire impact of their elimination in the curriculum, particularly acute in England. This will also address the increasing concern over middle class domination of parts fo the sector. I would also have liked to see some reference to libraries, access to knowledge exchange and non-formal education, both as part of the sector, and as contributing to growth and opportunity.

What surprised me were the survey results concerning growth:
“-81% of creative enterprises aim to grow, according to their own measures of growth, over the next three years. -19% of creative enterprises do not intend to grow further.
Previous Drew Wylie research in this terrain has found quite a prevalent ambivalence about growth in many creative micro-businesses and SMEs. The operators were nervous about taking on business responsibilities when their raison d’être was creative production. This difference in finding is partially because ‘the Fed’ have usefully come up with a more sophisticated take on what constitutes growth. But may also reflect increasing ambition. The report can be found here: https://www.creativeindustriesfederation.com/…/Creative%20I…

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