New design centres for animation and fashion

This Friday will finally see the Department for Culture, Media and Sport publish its plans for the Creative Economy Programme, the initiative launched in March 2006 to advance the UK’s creative sector.

It is anticipated that the CEP document will announce a number of new and refreshed initiatives for design and the creative industries.

Among them are expected to be the creation of an educational animation centre in the South West of England, backed by Aardman Animations and the South West Regional Development Agency.

Other plans being considered include a Couture Academy founded by Jasper Conran, and a National Skills Academy for the music and theatre industries to be based in Thurrock, which would manage a Government-backed programme of apprenticeships for the performing arts. Early proposals for a design skills academy have been replaced by the UK Design Skills Alliance, proposed by the Design Council and Creative & Cultural Skills.

The CEP strategy document is expected to embellish plans for a much-anticipated annual Creative Capital conference, billed as the Davos of the world’s creative industries. It is anticipated that this will take place in London later this year.

Plans to expand the Creative Partnerships programme run by Arts Council England will include new input from the Design Council to help with the placement of creative practitioners in schools. Details of new funding opportunities are also likely to emerge on Friday, with the implementation of a new enterprise capital fund for the creative sector being a preferred option. The task of launching the pared-down ‘strategy document’ seems set to fall to Andy Burnham, the newly anointed Culture Secretary, despite having been set in motion by Tessa Jowell two years ago, before being passed on to James Purnell, Burnham’s predecessor.

Not only has it been much delayed and reclassified from a Green Paper, but versions of the strategy document appear to have leaked all across Whitehall, prompting last week’s lambasting in The Times by shadow culture secretary Ed Valzey, and a flurry of discussion on-line.

Whether the CEP will finally establish an ‘industry framework’ and a ‘policy position’ for the creative industries, as called for by Jowell at its launch in 2006, remains to be seen.


• An Aardman-backed animation centre for the South West
• A Couture Academy backed by Jasper Conran
• A National Skills Academy for the music and theatre industries
• Design to benefit from a Skills Alliance rather than an academy
• Design Council to take a hand in placing creatives in schools
• No plans for the national design centre proposed in the Cox review

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