Booming creative sector ‘on hold’ while Brown reshuffles

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport deferred the publication of its Green Paper on the creative economy this week, just days before Prime Minister Gordon Brown appoints his first Cabinet.

The move, apparently prompted by the looming Whitehall reshuffle, leaves the creative industries still waiting for a set of collective policy recommendations from the Creative Economy Programme.

Speaking at the launch of a report on the sector by The Work Foundation called Staying Ahead: The Economic Performance of the UK’s Creative Industries, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said this report is ‘a key part of our work towards publishing a Green Paper on the creative industries later this year, and we will consider its findings carefully’.

Minister for Creative Industries Shaun Woodward joked about ‘the phantom Green Paper’, but told Design Week that many of its would-be recommendations were included in the WF study. ‘What’s in this document has really been taken on board by Gordon Brown,’ he added.

The 280-page WF report provides the latest analysis of the sector’s economic framework. It accounts for 7.3 per cent of GDP, which, for the first time, means it is comparable in size to financial services.

WF chief executive Will Hutton (pictured) urged the creative industries to form a common front behind the report. However, he was also clear that his aim of brokering a common position on the Creative Economy Programme between four Government departments had not been achievable in the allotted time.

Despite speculation, the Government’s future framework for overseeing design will only be known after Brown completes his reshuffle.

If the Department of Trade and Industry is broken up, as reports suggest, then the Design Council will find itself with a new paymaster. Last week, Nesta called on the Prime Minister to give responsibility for innovation policy to a ‘putative’ ministry of economic competitiveness – one potential ‘home’ for the DC. Other possible overseers include the DCMS and the Department for Education and Skills.

DC chief executive David Kester says, ‘Hutton’s analysis of the creative industries for the DCMS provides a valuable and informed foundation for a Creative Economy Green Paper and complements the findings of the Cox Review. It signals that Government is aware of, and keen to harness, the power of creativity and demonstrates that these industries are essential to UK competitiveness.’

• The creative industries are as important to the UK’s GDP as the financial services sector
• UK has the largest creative sector in the world, relative to GDP
• UK employs 1.8 million people in the creative industries
• The sector comprises design, music, film, fashion, architecture, advertising, TV and radio, publishing, performing arts, crafts, arts and antiques, software, gaming
• The Departments for Culture, Media and Sport; Trade and Industry; and Education and Skills, as well as the Treasury, were consulted

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