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In the end, though, our ability to deliver all this rests on our commitment to invest in our creative and technological talent. It seems absolutely self-evident to me that without that commitment, which has to be a judicious mix of public and private investment, we cannot be among the winners in this new economy.

I am absolutely persuaded that, as we enter the era of the digital economy, our creative industries have the potential to be world leaders in many respects. I do not have time today to touch on the contribution that our games sector, designers and musicians make to that economy both at home and abroad. But we have the creative talent. We have the creative and cultural assets. All we really now need in order to deliver our potential is the vision, ambition and energy that demonstrate our commitment to these creative industries as being the real standard-bearers for our national prosperity in the 21st century. I very much hope that today’s debate will reinforce the fact that all sides of your Lordships’ House recognise the opportunity and the fact that it is there for the taking.

12.45 pm

Lord Rowe-Beddoe: My Lords, I declare a non-pecuniary interest as chairman of the Wales Millennium Centre and president of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. I join in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Bragg, for securing this debate.

We have heard persuasive arguments. The sector is vital, not just for the wealth that it creates, but for its contribution to the social and intellectual well-being of our country. It was my intention to expand upon such matters on a national canvas, until I had the fortune—good or otherwise—to pick up yesterday this excellent document which was thoughtfully placed in our Library. I refer to the 2007 report published by UK Trade and Investment entitled Creative Industries UK.

As I scanned its helpful pages, I realised how London-centric the messages were. The word “Cardiff” is mentioned once, “Wales” twice, “Scotland” once and “Edinburgh” thrice. In the section on useful contacts, there is no Arts Council of Wales or Wales creative industries’ Hub, although Scottish Screen does get an entry. I could go on, and the Minister may wince as I return to themes that I have already used in your Lordships’ House in connection with the funding of the Olympics and its negative financial impact on arts funding and the unsatisfactory Cultural Olympiad programme which is unfolding; unsatisfactory because,

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despite government statements to the contrary, it is again largely centred on London organisations. Where is the legacy promised to the United Kingdom?

The former Prime Minister stated in 2007 that, years before he came to government, he said that he would,

I, like many others, am still waiting for this to happen.

After a false start, Liverpool achieved much in artistic, social and economic terms by successfully completing its year as European City of Culture—so much so that the Government then suggested at the beginning of this year that they would support an initiative to have a British city of culture annually. Since the initial publicity there has been silence. I remind the Government that those UK cities which reached the shortlist for 2008 each spent at least £1 million. The question I have raised with the DCMS is that, rather than start a whole new contest in these economic times, why not just nominate the cities that were shortlisted, put them in alphabetical order and, if they accept it, just get on with it? Perhaps the Minister would care to comment.

As Wales has been left off the UK Trade and Investment cultural map, I fear that I must compensate for this omission. For some time, the creative industries in Wales have been identified as a key driver of our business growth. The sector employs 21,000 people—just over 4 per cent of the UK creative industry's workforce—contributing more than £900 million GVA to the UK economy. By 2014, the industry is expected to grow by another 5,000 jobs. By 2011, the BBC will have moved more of its drama production to Cardiff, adding to the growing stable of network drama produced in the city, including the award-winning “Doctor Who”, “Torchwood” and “Gavin and Stacey”.

One of Dylan Thomas’s more memorable lines is:

“Praise the Lord, for we are a musical nation”.

As I speak, the Welsh capital is preparing for the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2009 and the Wales Millennium Centre is literally buzzing with rehearsals for competing singers from 25 countries for the hugely prestigious title, won in the past by many now globally famous stars. The event will attract audiences from all over the world. Nowhere is performance better showcased than at the Wales Millennium Centre with its 1,900-seat lyric theatre, studio theatre, state-of-the-art recital hall, dance house and one of the UK's largest free performance programmes. The centre is home to eight creative organisations: Welsh National Opera; BBC National Orchestra of Wales; Academy; Hijinx Theatre and Touch Trust, two artistic companies working with people with learning disabilities and severe learning disabilities; Ty Cerdd, the amateur music federation; Diversions, the national dance company; and Urdd Gobaith Cymru.

Last week the centre hosted the Urdd National Eisteddfod—the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, may have referred to that—one of Europe's largest youth cultural festivals, attended by 100,000 over six days. The centre is a creative factory, a true furnace of creativity, with

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almost 1,000 people employed under one roof. Noble Lords may agree that this is a significant workforce even by large-scale manufacturing standards. Since opening in 2004, the centre has been visited by nearly six million people, making it the number one tourist attraction in Wales and one of the top 10 cultural attractions outside London. This figure is far in excess of the original predictions of key stakeholders, including the Welsh Assembly Government.

We have seen unprecedented growth in recent years in the arts, securing the UK's position as a world centre, if not the world centre. The sector has also held up well—as it has done in the past—against recession. Last month, for example, we sold £l million worth of advance tickets for our Christmas presentation, Cameron Mackintosh's “Les Miserables”,touring for the first time in 15 years.

As we have frequently heard, the Government seek to grow our way out of recession. I firmly believe that the seeds of investment need to be spread on this most fertile ground—the creative industries. The impact on the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds is now well known.

Returning for a moment to UK Trade and Investment—an organisation for which I have a lot of respect and with which I have had a great deal to do in the past—earlier this year a YouGov survey conducted among a panel of business leaders cited the provision of arts and culture as being a critical determinant in investment location decisions, even more important—this may be hard to believe—than a favourable tax regime. There is no doubt that the Wales Millennium Centre has become a symbol for what is innovative and attractive about Cardiff and Wales, and for the devolved Administration it is a symbol of national identity.

Lastly, Wales is a centre of excellence in creativity, with our higher education institutions punching well above their weight in producing some of the UK's leading talent in music, drama and film. I hope that I have contributed to noble Lords’ understanding.

12.53 pm

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall: My Lords, I, too, thank my noble friend Lord Bragg for introducing this debate at a very timely moment. His remarks cheered me up. In a dark time it is wonderful to hear such enthusiasm. I agree most profoundly with what he said about the contribution of the arts and culture to—as he put it—feeding the inner life. If only we could talk about this with less embarrassment, not in this House, of course, but elsewhere.

I should declare a variety of interests—the term “creative industries” draws together a variety of enterprise which includes the live performing arts, where I spent most of my professional life and where I retain connections through membership of several boards, including that of the Roundhouse in north London, the National Opera Studio and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Today, however, I want to talk about two aspects of the creative economy with which I have no personal association, except to the extent that my son started in one of them and now works in the other. The first is television drama—that was briefly mentioned by my noble friend Lord Bragg—and the second is the fashion

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industry, about which I thought I might be alone in making observations. However, I reckoned without the excellent contribution of the noble Baroness, Lady Young.

I am privileged to be a member of your Lordships’ Select Committee on Communications. I am sorry not to be able to take part in the debate later today on the committee's report on public service broadcasting because many of the issues raised in the report have a direct bearing on matters under discussion in this debate. In particular, it draws attention to the current gaps in public service provision and asks some searching questions about how those gaps are to be filled, both in terms of funding and content. My own principal anxiety centres on the future of high-quality drama for television. For the purposes of this debate, I use the term “high-quality” to refer to the kind of work exemplified by, for example, Granada's work in the 1980s such as “Jewel in the Crown” and “Brideshead Revisited”, and more recently by productions such as Channel 4’s recent “Red Riding” or “The Devil's Whore”, and some of the best of the BBC's output such as “Life on Mars” and “Cranford”.

I recently embarked on a programme of acquisitions for my own DVD library in order to get together as many of the television drama series that I remembered enjoying over the past 25 years, have another look at them and see whether they stood up to scrutiny. So in the past few months I have watched “Brideshead Revisited”, many adaptations of various Dickens novels and of novels by Trollope, Thomas Hardy and George Eliot, two series based on John Le Carre's Smiley novels, “The Edge of Darkness”, a brilliant original drama commissioned by the BBC—now something of a cult piece—in which the late and in my view very much lamented Bob Peck gave one of his finest performances, and a lot else besides. Your Lordships may think that I have too much time on my hands. But the fact is that I am not embarrassed to share this aspect of my leisure activity with the House because this little research project focused my mind not on recalling a supposed golden age when there was always something good on telly—although a lot of this work is very good—but on wondering whether in 25 years’ time my children will have a similarly impressive volume and range of television drama to remember in their dotage. For the danger in which we stand now is that the cost of making this sort of home-grown work is so high, particularly when compared with the relatively low cost of buying in product from the USA, that television companies are able to do less and less of it and almost invariably need co-production money to do it at all.

We have heard about the crisis facing the independent television companies. ITV has already told us that drama is one of the areas it will cut back. Channel 4's drama output, once one of its great glories, is also likely to decline as the company struggles to find a sustainable way forward. The BBC, although still in the forefront of producing UK drama, is under increasing pressure to share its resources with others, and we must wonder what impact this will have on how it fulfils its commitment to drama in the future. Why does this matter—in particular, why does it matter to the economy? Why should we not leave things to the market and content ourselves largely with a diet of

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imported drama, mostly from Hollywood? In thinking about this I am indebted to Professor Peter Grant of the Law Faculty at Toronto University. In the illuminating evidence he recently gave to the Communications Committee, he noted the need for Governments and regulators to maintain and enhance their involvement with locally produced drama to avoid a decline in what Ofcom and others accept is the most popular genre of programming on television.

Professor Grant says:

“People appreciate having their own stories told and their own experience reflected on the small screen”.

He goes on to point out that there is a clear economic justification for government support, noting the importance of creative clusters to economic strategy. He says:

“Creative clusters are essentially groupings of the creative personnel in cities and regions who are able to produce quality cultural products of all types ... Drama is the one category that uses all of the creative energies and all of your creative forces together. It is the highest cost within programming but it is also the most ambitious and if you have a structure in the country that supports local drama it is a major contribution to the development of these creative clusters. There have been studies ... in many countries ... about the importance now of creative clusters to the economic well-being of a nation”.

The UK is rich in the talented people who form these clusters, and their skills are sought after worldwide, as a number of speakers have said. Furthermore, what they create is popular and highly valued by audiences both at home and abroad. Will my noble friend say when he replies in what way the Government intend to encourage broadcasters and programme makers to maintain their commitment to UK television drama? Will they, for example, consider the introduction of levies, as was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald, and as has been done in other European countries, to provide an additional source of funds for this vital work?

Finally, I shall have a brief word about fashion. I love fashion; it is perhaps another indication of my fundamentally frivolous nature, but it is not just because I like nice clothes. I am intrigued by the way the fashion industry represents the bringing together of often radical design ideas with strong commercial imperatives. It is an industry that is highly consumer-focused and depends on innovation—some might say on novelty—making it highly dynamic and highly globalised, for example in relation to the sourcing of textiles, as has already been pointed out by the noble Baroness, Lady Young. As she also said, it has not always been at the forefront of ethical thinking about trade, but now, in a world faced with huge social, economic and environmental challenges, some practitioners are beginning to develop systems to address the negative impacts of current practices and push the huge creative energy within the industry towards imagining—I use the word advisedly—a future based on collaborative models of sustainability and ethical practice. For example, the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, set up in 2008, at the London College of Fashion is already working with big fashion retail businesses to take some of these ideas forward, looking to develop skills and technologies as well as design talent, to create, as it says,



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I will be interested to hear how my noble friend responds to the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Young, about government support for the sustainable fashion initiatives already under way.

In these dark times, and despite all the difficulties, the creative industries in this country provide us with something to feel good about. There is so much to be proud of, and so much to lose if we fail to understand the significance of what these industries contribute. I hope that the Government will continue to do everything possible to support and encourage them.

1.01 pm

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I am extremely grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bragg, for introducing the debate, and particularly for—on a slightly different tack from the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh—emphasising the creative industries’ economic significance to Britain. That is particularly important in the context of what I might call the post-financial-crash world, although I am tempted as an aside to comment that I suspect that the trouble there was a trifle too much creativity. The point about the creative industries’ talent and creativity is that it does not come from nowhere; it needs to be nurtured, appreciated and rewarded. In my few remarks, I would like to say a little about, first, failure, which we have not talked about yet; secondly, the past; thirdly, leadership; and fourthly, education.

The older I get, the more I am staggered by the number of bad paintings in the world. An awful lot of them were thought to be good at the point at which they were created. If you go into a bookshop, it is unbelievable how many bad books are on the shelves; if you go into the basement of a second-hand bookshop, it is even worse. You have to realise that, for the people who created them all, they were important intellectual projects. However, to have a successful creative economy—rather like having an effective programme of scientific research, a point made recently in an article that I read by the noble Lord, Lord Rees of Ludlow—it is necessary to understand failure. Society must know how to handle it and deal with its financial implications. I remember talking long ago to Sir Sydney Samuelson about film, and I said, “Can you predict which film will be a success?”. He said, “No, but I can tell from a group of 10 which film will become successful; nine of them will flop”. The problem is rather like something that I was saying to the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, yesterday about the Treasury’s approach to the previous regime about film finance; it appeared to be too successful—in other words, it involved too much money—and somehow it had not produced, in its view, enough good films. However, to have a successful creative economy, there has to be failure and an understanding that that is inevitable.

For there to be a continuing pool of talent, it must be continuously replenished from the younger generation. The characteristic of the younger generation, in every generation, is that it rejects history. The world did not start in 1997, 1979 or 1879; it is always a case of one generation reacting against and moving on from the

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previous one. The pendulum swings backwards and forwards. One of the essential preconditions of a thriving creative sector of the economy is a thriving education sector, which has to understand history and the context in which we are living. Yet do we as a society properly fund and support what I might call the framework for that sort of education to take place? The Victoria and Albert, to name but one such institution, was established as much as anything else as a resource for students. That is true of many of the great provincial museums round this country. We do not fund them properly. We are a country that seems to have gone to war in Iraq without really thinking twice about its cost. If you take the longer view, which is more important to our country in the future? Do we have our cost-benefit analysis properly worked out?

Another important contextual aspect, on which nobody has yet touched, is the influence of old buildings and landscape on every member of society. That is probably the way in which we are touched by what has gone before in a bigger and wider sense than almost any other, yet how does society operate? The state seems to put hurdles and barriers in front of people who want to improve and maintain things. I always suspect that neglect and lack of maintenance has done far more to destroy our cultural architectural heritage than the Luftwaffe ever did. Again we come back to the question of whether those who take the decisions fully balance the benefits and costs represented by a world where the creative economy is becoming important.

As I said, much of what is created is not very good. The market sorts some of it out, but not all of it. I often wonder whether those involved in cultural leadership necessarily give enough support and credit to those who understand, and who can point out to the rest of us who follow, what is good. Some of us may have been to see the pictures that the British Council bought that are on show in the Whitechapel art gallery. It is an extraordinary testament to the ability of the original purchasing team to see what it acquired then. The noble Lord, Lord Bragg, will know that Carlisle—my home city, and very close to where he comes from—had the most enlightened policy of art acquisition between the wars and after the Second World War; Carlisle city gallery has a remarkable collection. That policy was made by those in political authority acting on the judgment and expertise of those who knew what they were doing, and not simply being swayed by a kind of—if I can be rather crude about it—debased populism.

I have touched on what is crucial for the future: that we have an education system to develop the talent that will enable us as a nation to derive the economic benefits that the creative industries are capable of providing for us. That education system must be rigorous and properly founded. I suspect that the chances of it turning out, certainly at degree-show level, material that the Members of this House might appreciate and enjoy at first blush are pretty remote. Indeed, I suspect that something would be wrong were it to do so. However, the danger that faces the country is that, if the system of education is organised on a kind of tick-in-the-box measurement output basis, we will stifle the creativity that will be so important economically for the future. Again, how is the cost-benefit analysis working in this area?



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For me, the key to understanding creativity lies in one’s analysis of what “Culture” is all about. Too much now in this country, the “C” in “DCMS” has become synonymous simply with what people do in their spare time; that is not as it should be at all. In this country—it is a characteristic that seems to go back many years—I fear that we do not really care much about this. We, particularly the English, pride ourselves on having common sense and our feet on the ground. As a result, we do not give proper credit to the economic significance of these areas of human endeavour. It was summed up to me succinctly some years ago when I went as our country’s representative to the informal Culture Council in Bologna. There was I, and my Italian counterpart was Walter Veltroni, then Deputy Prime Minister. While I do not think that Italy is a very good political comparator, I suspect, perhaps at least in this little regard, that it may have got it a bit more right than we did.

The problem is that those in the public sector who view these things cannot evaluate what the cultural and creative sector contributes to our country—not in aesthetic, artistic or spiritual terms, which are important anyway, but in hard economic terms. In the post-industrial world into which we are moving, that will become increasingly important. It is important that this issue is revisited in a hard-nosed way to make sure that the bean counters and the accountants, in putting together our “national plan”, have this issue clear in their heads. The underlying problem is that culture, like politics, is something that we in this country want on the cheap. And look where that has got us—we seem to know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

1.10 pm

Lord Watson of Invergowrie: My Lords, I recently came across the following quote:

“The stuff that creates new insights, delights and experiences, that stirs our senses and enriches our lives, is also the stuff that is propelling a larger slice of our economic output. How we create the architecture that will incubate rather than stunt creative industry growth is a major policy question”.

Those are the wise words of Will Hutton, the chief executive of the Work Foundation. This debate is an important contribution to creating that architecture and I congratulate my noble friend Lord Bragg on bringing it about.

Defining the sector is not always straightforward, but it should include everything from advertising to architecture, music and film to design and publishing, fashion and computer games to TV and DVD; and we should not overlook the fact either that it also includes the sciences, because what on earth are scientists if they are not creative? But that, of course, is a subject more appropriate for the debate that will follow this one.


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