Support for the creative economy

Written evidence submitted by Creative & Cultural Skills [SCE 038]

1. Creative & Cultural Skills is an independent charity supporting the skills and training needs of the UK’s creative and cultural industries. We lead the campaign for fair access to the creative and cultural industries, and have created over 1,800 Creative Apprenticeships in the UK since 2008. We deliver through our Skills Academy, a growing network employers and training providers who are committed to the provision of high quality, industry-relevant creative education and training, apprenticeships and careers advice. We are licensed as a Sector Skills Council by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. For further information, please visit

The Creative Economy: An Overview

2. The UK has the largest cultural economy in Europe [1] , and the creative and cultural industries represent one of our economy’s greatest success stories. Across the UK the industries employ over 800,000 people and contribute just over £26 billion Gross Value Added (GVA) per annum. [2] Between 2004 and 2010, the GVA generated by the creative and cultural industries increased by 11%, a figure almost double that of the UK economy as a whole [3] . The performing arts, music and visual arts sectors offer particular success stories, growing by 21%, 17% and 8% respectively since 2009. As these figures suggest, no discussion of economic competitiveness should overlook the lessons the sector, with its progressive approach to intellectual property creation, innovation and collaboration, can offer.

3. Although the industry has proven resilient over the past few years, it has not been unaffected by economic downturn. Our most recent data shows that although employment has risen by approximately 4,000 workers since 2009, productivity has declined by 8% in the same period [4] . This decline has been felt most particularly in the cultural heritage and literature sectors, where annual GVA contribution has fallen by 18% and 19% respectively [5] .

4. The mixed fortunes of the creative and cultural industries in the past few years offer both cause for enthusiasm and cause for concern. To remain competitive on a global scale, the UK’s creative and cultural industries must begin to think strategically about their skills needs, making sure they continue to develop and attract the skills and talent they need to thrive. In the discussion which follows, Creative & Cultural Skills will set out the key measures through which we believe Government can best support businesses and make sure that creative talent is nurtured both throughout the education system and in the workplace. We will also discuss the role played by Creative & Cultural Skills in addressing these same issues.

How best to develop the legacy from the Olympics and Paralympics of the display of UK talent in the creative industries

5. The Olympics gave cultural venues and ventures across the UK the opportunity to display a wealth of creative talent and innovation. Not only did the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics and Paralympics showcase world-class dance, theatre and music to great success, they are also testimony to the value of sustained investment in backstage operations, including venue design, lighting and technical theatre.

6. With the remarkable growth of the live music and performing arts sectors over the past decade, the continued development of backstage roles is of paramount importance. The creative sectors which have witnessed the most growth in the past few years are those which provide live entertainment and experiences, rather than tangible ‘products’. For example, live music is one of the largest sectors of the music industry: it comprises 35% of all employment in the industry and generates £800.8 million GVA per annum [6] . One of the key ways in which we can develop the legacy of the Olympics is to invest in high-quality, industry-endorsed training which equips people with the backstage skills which are in such high demand across the creative industries.

7. Creative & Cultural Skills are committed to improving the skills of the backstage and offstage workforce through the development of a large-scale technical training and rehearsal centre we have built in Purfleet, Essex. Designed and specified by industry experts, The Backstage Centre forms part of a major regeneration project in the Thames Gateway, and facilitates practical and extended training and rehearsals in a bespoke environment. It is a large-scale space for hire for the music and theatre industry, providing the capacity to rehearse, install, develop and train. It offers a unique meeting point for technicians, producers, creative teams and learners of all ages at every stage of their careers, and will play a key role in developing the technical skills and expertise needed to support the fast-growing music and theatre industries, to enable them to achieve their economic potential [7] . The Backstage Centre allows young learners can have the chance to experience real-time training with some of the world’s best bands and theatre companies in a large-scale industry-standard venue.

Barriers to growth in the creative industries including difficulties in accessing private finance and lack of cross-government support

8. In the 2010 Plan for Growth, the Government named the "digital and creative industries" as one of six priority growth sectors with the potential to drive economic recovery in the coming years, and outlined their ambition for the UK to become a world leader in the creative and cultural industries [8] . However, there are still significant challenges to be overcome in order to ensure that our creative and cultural industries are in the best possible position to succeed in an increasingly competitive international marketplace.

Small Businesses

9. At present, the creative and cultural industries face a number of pressing skills shortages [9] . Despite this fact, the industry is an area of the economy where formal investment in training has been difficult to implement, a problem which largely relates to the prevalence of small and micro-businesses. Ninety-four percent of businesses in the sector have fewer than ten staff [10] , and the vast majority of businesses (94%) have neither an internal training budget nor any record of accessing external training funding (89%) [11] . This is in large part due to the atypical businesses structure and patterns of employment particular to the sector, which can act as barriers to the successful implementation of long-term strategic planning. Small businesses have less time and money to train staff, and portfolio working, seasonal productions and contract-based work make it difficult to offer anything more than ad hoc, on the job training. Consequently, few businesses in the sector pre-empt future human resources requirements by planning staff development, instead choosing to access training only as and when the need arises.

10. Whilst these various issues represent substantial barriers, concerns about the short-term difficulties of training or taking on an apprentice lead employers to overlook the competitive benefits that accrue to their business in the long-term when they invest in staff development.

11. Creative & Cultural Skills work to help businesses overcome these barriers through our National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural. Our Skills Academy is a growing membership network of over 230 theatre and live music employers and 20 Founder Colleges from across England. In June 2012, we announced the extension of this highly successful model into the jewellery, design and cultural heritage sectors, and have since extended our Skills Academy into Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Creative & Cultural Skills also work to facilitate dialogue between this network and government at both a local and national level, offering businesses invaluable leverage when it comes to influencing decisions that will impact upon their training and development capabilities.

12. The National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural supports businesses with their training needs in a number of ways. We providing an Apprenticeship Training Service (ATS) – and Apprenticeship Training Association, which helps employers through each stage of the recruitment process. The ATS can employ apprentices directly on behalf of employer, allowing apprentices to split their time between several businesses. This arrangement reduces red tape for businesses, offers assurance that an apprentice will continue to be paid even if the employer can no longer complete the training period, and allows small businesses to take on apprentices part-time, reducing the time they must apportion to training each week.

13. We also develop new qualifications and apprenticeship frameworks in partnership with employers in industries where specific vocational training was not previously available, host an annual conference which brings together members from across the industry, and promote training and CPD for businesses, much of which occurs at a localised level between individual founder colleges and businesses.


14. Creating dedicated training plans and delivering on them is a strategic business decision which can entail a significant outlay of funding. However, evidence published by the DCMS and BIS suggests that creative businesses find it harder than other SMEs to access finance for long-term investment [12] . Growing businesses through the development of the workforce can, in some instances, prove difficult because of a lack of cash flow.

Cross Government Co-operation

15. Although the creative and cultural industries come under the purview of the DCMS, decisions made both by the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills affect the industry in significant ways. A notable example would be the recent introduction of the E-Bacc, as well as other changes to the curriculum currently under discussion at the DfE.

16. Although BIS have identified the creative industries as a key growth industry and promote the development of apprenticeships and other vocational routes, there has been no move to safeguard the future of creative education in schools. This lack of strategic co-ordination between departments is liable to have a negative impact on the development of a skilled creative workforce in the future

Ways to establish a strong skills base to support the creative economy, including the role of further and higher education


17. Skills are the "global currency" of 21st century economies [13] , and recent research from the UKCES suggests that the next decade will see a significant growth in demand for skilled workers [14] . Despite the fact that almost 60% of the creative and cultural workforce are educated to degree level [15] , the industry continues to face considerable skills gaps and shortages, suggesting that students are not necessarily being directed towards the educational courses which provide them with the most marketable and industry-relevant skills.

18. Meanwhile, due to the over-supply of graduates in the creative and cultural industries, many graduates find themselves under-employed in jobs that do not necessarily require graduate qualifications. These issues place considerable pressure on the industry to nurture people who possess the right skills, and prepare them for an ever-evolving landscape of work. Creating a high quality education system which allows for clear progression routes will prove integral to this process.

Primary and Secondary Schools

19. Sustained investment in creative education should underpin any government strategy to support the long-term growth of the creative and cultural industries. Despite the fact that the foundations for the next generation of talented, highly skilled creative and cultural innovators are laid at school, there is widespread concern in the industry that schools are failing to provide high quality creative education.

20. Investment in high quality creative education is likely to be further hampered by the introduction of the new English Baccalaureate at Key Stage 4, as resources are increasingly channelled away from creative subjects towards those five ‘core’ subjects which contribute towards performance measures for schools. On-going emphasis on core subjects may also serve to reinforce the idea that the creative subjects are less valuable or rigorous than other subjects in the timetable. Recently published Government statistics would seem to confirm this concern: more than a quarter (27%) of schools have withdrawn courses for the 2012/13 academic year due to the introduction of the EBacc, in addition to the 45% who withdrew classes prior to the 2011/12 academic year. Creative subjects have fared particularly poorly: the most commonly withdrawn subjects are drama and performing arts, which have been dropped in nearly a quarter of schools where a subject had been withdrawn (23%), followed by art (17%) and design technology (14%) [16] .

21. To ensure that the creative and cultural industries are supplied with the workforce they need to grow in the future, the Government must continue to support creative education in schools. The intrinsic value of creative subjects to all pupils – and hence, all areas of the economy - should also receive greater recognition. On this basis we recommend that the Government commit to providing world-class creative education in schools, and work to ensure that creative subjects receive recognition alongside more traditional academic subjects.

Progression Routes

22. People seeking to enter the creative and cultural industries often suffer from a lack of knowledge and awareness about the roles which exist and the skills needed to succeed within them. The existence of careers in ‘behind the scenes’ roles-such as lighting technicians or set and costume designers in the performing arts sector-are rarely apparent to young people considering their career options.

23. For those who do wish to work in the sector, unpaid internships and volunteering are often required to gain a foot in the door, which excludes people who lack independent financial means. This contributes to a lack of diversity in the workforce, with a negative impact on competitiveness. If the creative sector is to meet its economic potential, then talented and hardworking individuals from all backgrounds must be able to enter and progress, with the principle of fair access underpinning employment.

24. Creative & Cultural Skills work to address these issues through our Creative Choices programme, which provides online access to information, advice and guidance- including links to jobs and training opportunities for anyone working, or aspiring to work, in the creative and cultural industries. This is complemented by a series of career events which aims to reach 17,000 young people in 2012-13 alone.

25. We have also published a guide called ‘Internships in the Arts-a Guide for Arts Organisations’ in partnership with the Arts Council England. Our guidelines highlight the need for fair and transparent recruitment processes, appropriate management, support and assessment, fair pay, skills development, and formal or informal training where appropriate.


26. Working with employers and local education providers, Creative & Cultural Skills have pioneered the Creative Apprenticeships programme, opening up progression routes to the most talented individuals, regardless of background. From a standing start of zero in 2008, more than 1,800 learners are currently undertaking, or have completed, a Creative Apprenticeship at levels 2 and 3. We developed the first apprenticeship frameworks in technical theatre, costume and wardrobe, community arts, jewellery, live events management and music business, and we continue to develop new specialist qualifications where they are needed by industry.

27. The Creative Apprenticeship programme makes a significant social and economic return on investment: each cohort of 200 Creative Apprentices makes a long-term economic contribution of over £2.4 million, and the next five cohorts of learners are forecast to have an impact in excess of £16 million [17] . As apprenticeships are comparatively new to the sector, it is also significant that they primarily create ‘new’ positions within an organisation, rather than providing training for someone already within the workforce.

28. Looking to the future, apprenticeships in the creative and cultural sector should aim to deliver the higher level skills needed across the industry. Most of the growth in apprenticeship starts in the sector over the last two years has been among advanced apprenticeships, whose numbers have nearly trebled since 2008/09, and apprenticeships at Levels 4, 5 and 6 are in high demand. At present, many Creative Apprentices progress to university upon completion of their apprenticeship, suggesting that there is a demand for these higher level qualifications amongst learners as well as employers [18] .

Higher Education

29. Figures published by UCAS indicate a 16.4% decline in applications to Creative Arts and Design courses between 2011 and 2012 [19] . It is likely that uptake has been adversely affected by the introduction of student fees in 2011. This decline is worrying the emphasis other countries with growing creative industries place on investment in higher education. For example, a recent report from the Design Commission has highlighted the speed at which the design industries of China, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Brazil and Russia are growing [20] . Many of these countries recognise the strong correlation between design and innovation, and invest heavily in creative education - in China, design is the now the third most popular university subject, after English and Computer Science, and the country produces over 300,000 design graduates per year [21] . To remain competitive on a global scale, higher education in creative subjects should not be neglected.

30. Creative & Cultural Skills also support the recommendations set out in the Wilson Review of Business-University Collaboration [22] . We particularly support the call for more high-quality internships and work experience placements, as these placements not only furnish people with a good understanding of available careers and progression routes, they can also provide learners with the business and entrepreneurial skills so often perceived to be lacking in university leavers. These skills are invaluable in sectors such as the creative and cultural industries, which tend to suffer from a lack of applicants with the appropriate business and administrative capabilities needed to drive competitiveness. Although universities do provide some entrepreneurial education, they have been slower to provide the support for the creative sector they more readily supply to businesses in technological or scientific sectors.

The extent to which taxation supports the growth of the creative economy, including whether it would be desirable to extend the tax reliefs targeted at certain sectors in the 2012 budget

31. Creative & Cultural Skills supports the recent announcement by the Government of a series of tax reliefs for the film, animation and television sectors. Since its introduction in 2007, the film tax credit has supported £5 billion of investment into almost 600 British films [23] . We believe that there is a strong case to be made for the extension of tax credits and other forms of fiscal support for the wider creative and cultural sectors, particularly those sectors such as the live music and theatre sectors which are experiencing rapid growth and have enormous export potential but which cannot necessarily access the appropriate financial and skills infrastructure to sustain this growth in the long term.

The importance of ‘clusters’ and ‘hubs’ in facilitating innovation and growth in the creative sector

32. Creative & Cultural Skills invest heavily in partnership working, and aim to facilitate collaboration between industry stakeholders wherever possible. Particularly in an industry dominated by small businesses, partnership working is the key means by which employers can hope to access information, guidance and other forms of support.

33. The success of our National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural should be seen as an example of a model which can create lasting changes in businesses behaviour and investment. In addition to the initiatives discussed above such as the Apprenticeship Training Association, we have helped establish a number of Group Training Associations. Group Training Associations or ‘GTAs’ are employer-led hubs where a group of local employers take responsibility for training in partnership with a Skills Academy college. This model benefits small employers who may find it difficult to provide training for an apprentice without support. For example, Creative & Cultural Skills have brokered a contract for Artswork in Southampton with North Hertfordshire College. Artswork run the training programme and provide apprenticeship support for ten apprentices, which is far more cost-effective than the college providing day-release training from its base in Stevenage. Because of its Skills Academy status North Hertfordshire College can support the programme through the Skills Academy more cost-effectively than a local college with no links to the creative industries.

34. Our Backstage Centre offers a further example of a creative ‘hub’ which facilitates innovation in the creative sector. The Backstage Centre is part of High House Production Park, a unique new concept that brings a number of creative industries together on one site in Purfleet in the Thames Gateway. It is adjacent to the state-of-the-art Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop for the Royal Opera House, a space hosting approximately 30 designers, painters, carpenters, metal and fibreglass workers and apprentices, all working on scenery for over 40 annual opera and ballet productions at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Plans are also in place to create a number of studios for creative practitioners and businesses linked to the wider work of the hub.

The work of the Creative Industries Council and other public bodies responsible for supporting the sector

35. As a member of the Creative Industries Council, Creative & Cultural Skills play an active role in representing the views and interests of the creative and cultural sector to government. The Heseltine Review has indicated that there is need for greater interaction between government and industry: however, we believe that for this forum to work effectively, representation on the Council must be closer aligned with the make-up of the sector. At present, the Council is dominated by large, multi-national companies which are unrepresentative of a sector where 94% of businesses have ten or fewer staff. In an industry as diverse as the creative and cultural sector, it is also important that individual sectors receive adequate representation. The Council’s definition of ‘creative industries’ is extremely broad, with the result that large sectors such as design are represented by only one voice (The Design Council). On this basis, we propose that the Council would be in a better position to support the needs of the sector if its remit were more focused and SME representation were improved.

November 2012

[1] UKCES, Sector Skills Insights: Digital and Creative, (2012)

[2] Creative & Cultural Skills, Impa ct and Footprint 2012/13 (2012)

[3] Creative & Cultural Skills, Creative and Cultural Industry: Occupational, Skills and Productivity Forecasting, (2011)

[4] Creative & Cultural Skills, Impact and Footprint 2012/13, (2012)

[5] Ibid

[6] Creative & Cultural Skills, Impact and Footprint 2012/13, (2012)

[7] See,

[8] BIS, The Plan for Growth, (2011)

[9] Creative & Cultural Skills, Creative and Cultural Industries Workforce Survey, (2009)

[10] Creative & Cultural Skills, Impact and Footprint 2012/13, (2012)

[11] Creative & Cultural Skills, Creative and Cultural Industries Workforce Survey, (2009)

[12] BIS, Access to Finance for Creative Businesses, (2011)

[13] OECD, Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Lives: A Strategic Appr oach to Skills Policies, (2012)

[14] UKCES, Working Futures 2010 – 2020 (2012)

[15] Creative & Cultural Skills, Impact and Footprint 2012/13, (2012)

[16] Department for Education, Effects of the English Baccalaureate, (2012)

[17] Creative & Cultural Skills, Assessing the Return on Investment, Evaluation and Impact of Creative Apprenticeships (2011)

[18] Creative & Cultural Skills, Assessing the Return on Investment, Evaluation and Impact of Creative Apprenticeships (2011)


[20] The Design Commission, Restarting Britain: Design Education and Growth, (2012)

[21] Ibid

[22] Sir Tim Wilson, Review of Business–University Collaboration, (2012)

[23] HM Treasury, Consultation on Creative Sector Tax Reliefs, (2012)

Prepared 17th November 2012