Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Lucy Frazer highlighted the creative industries as a “key growth sector for the UK economy” at the opening of the Creative UK’s three-day Creative Coalition Festival 2023 yesterday evening.
Since her appointment to the role in February, Frazer said she has come to see the creative community as “the workforce powering our country” and outlined how the government intends to make the sector a priority in the coming months.
Investment in research and development
Citing the £116 billion the creative industries contribute to the UK economy every year, Frazer said it is in the government’s interest to invest in them, which she claims is already happening on a large scale. During her speech last night, she announced that the government plans to put another £2.5 million towards research and development in the creative industries in different regions across the UK “to get the sector firing on all cylinders”.
According to Frazer, the government has already spent £17 million on boosting creative investment in six regions across England and over £100 million in funding from UK Research and Innovation, to help position the UK as “world leaders in virtual production” and to “support smaller businesses to experiment and innovate”.
Creating jobs outside of London
One of Frazer’s key focuses moving forward will be “places and people”, she says. Noting that today over half of jobs in the creative industries are in London and the South East, she said it is “just not good enough”.
Recognising creativity as one of the “strongest industries”, Frazer says that she plans to “drive growth in every corner of the UK” so that the whole country can “feel its benefits”. More specifically, she mentions boosting “natural clusters” and “hotspots” that have formed outside of London and the South East, such as Leamington Spa which has become “one of the video game capitals of the UK” and Belfast she describes as “a hub for film and TV production”.
Frazer suggests building homes and train stations in these hotspots as one solution, adding that she is also interested in how the government can provide businesses in these areas with “even more opportunities to innovate, to access investment and to export the best of British creativity abroad”.
Publishing a “Sector Vision”
Investigating how the tax system can better support the creative economy is another point on Frazer’s agenda, as she thinks this would trigger people nationwide to “start and expand their own creative businesses”.
Frazer explained that she will clearly set out how she plans to deliver her proposals in the soon to be published Creative Industries Sector Vision, on which the Creative Industries Council gave input.
Once published, Frazer said that it will “kickstart a whole new round of engagement” and define how the government and the industry will continue to work together on “a range of issues affecting creative businesses”.
She added that it will also seek to provide a framework to aid collaboration with the new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology on research and development and to foster a partnership with the Department for Education to help build “a highly skilled and innovative workforce”.
The Sector Vision is due to be published within the next few months.
New government departments
In early February during a mini reshuffle, new government departments were created, which saw digital dropped form the culture secretary’s portfolio. Frazer believes that the changes “have left [her] department […] in a strong position” as it means that she can now focus on the sectors “at the heart of our portfolio, particularly the creative industries”.
Frazer said: “The creative industries enrich our lives in every sense of the word. When they thrive, the country thrives and, while I’m new to DCMS, as a minister in other departments, I’ve seen just how much the arts can affect lives.
“I am going to bring that experience to bear in this role, to push the creative industries to a new level of growth in the coming years.”