From the Margins to the Mainstream - Government unveils new action plan for the creative industries

22 February 2008



  • 5,000 apprenticeships to help people from all backgrounds make the most of their creative skills
  • An independent review to investigate the path to next generation broadband
  • The World Creative Business Conference – an annual event bringing together world leaders in the creative and financial sectors
  • Steps to protect intellectual property, including a commitment to take action on illegal file sharing by 2009, if industry fails to reach a voluntary solution.

The first ever comprehensive plan for Government support for the creative industries is published today, marking their shift from the margins to the mainstream of economic and policy thinking.

The strategy, ‘Creative Britain: New Talents for the New Economy’ makes 26 key commitments for Government and industry across every stage of the creative process. It is designed to turn talent into jobs and help creative businesses thrive in the international market.  It recognises the growing success story that is Britain’s creative economy and seeks to provide the industries with an unrivalled pool of talent to draw on, and the same formal, structured support associated with other industries.

Publishing the action plan today, Culture Secretary Andy Burnham said:

“Making a career out of your passion and a business from your ideas – that’s what we want to help Britain achieve.


“So now is the time to recognise the growing success story that is Britain’s creative economy and build on it. The creative industries must move from the margins to the mainstream of economic and policy thinking, as we look to create the jobs of the future.

“Our vision is of a Britain in 10 years time where the local economies in our biggest cities are driven by creativity. That’s why we need a clear action plan for both Government and industry to keep our competitive advantage. We want to take raw talent, nurture it, and give people the best possible chance of building a successful business.”

The starting point of the comprehensive strategy is unlocking creative talent, helping it flourish and turning it into jobs. Routes into the creative industries for people of all backgrounds will be developed. New commitments announced today include:

  • securing 5,000 apprenticeships across the creative industries by 2013. BBC at mediacity:uk, Tate Liverpool, Universal Music Group and Monkeydevil Design are among the first to sign up to offer high quality training 

  • working with the industries’ most successful creators, including Aardman Animations, EMI, and the Royal Opera House to develop five new ‘centres of excellence’ in creative skills

  • exploring the creation of a 14 – 25 Academic Hub for the creative industries, which will bring schools and art colleges and universities together


Minister for Intellectual Property, Baroness Morgan of Drefelin said:

“The Government is committed to doing all it can to equip individuals from all walks of life with the skills they need to realise their creative ambitions, and to promote creative collaboration between employers, community groups and education and training providers.

“In working towards 5,000 creative apprenticeships, we will offer an invaluable opportunity for people to make a real contribution to the vitality and continued success of the sector.  These apprenticeships, designed by employers, will help companies extend and improve the pool of talent at their disposal.  
“The Government is committed to safeguarding the intellectual property rights of those who make a living from their creativity, ensuring the long-term economic viability of our creative enterprises." 

A comprehensive package of measures to support business has also been developed following extensive consultation with the industries. Their priorities included greater protection for intellectual property, and help for creative businesses to access finance and grow.

Commenting on the independent review into next generation broadband, Business and Competitiveness Minister Shriti Vadera said:

"The way we will do business, access many government services, as well as information and entertainment will change beyond recognition over our lifetime and these new technologies will push the boundaries of today’s communications infrastructure.

“We must be ready to respond to future technological developments which will place unprecedented challenges for our communications networks over the coming decade.

“That is why we need to look ahead into the future now. We need to prepare the way for the UK to adopt groundbreaking new technologies to ensure that we do not get left behind – competitively or technologically.

“High speed broadband is also vital for the growth of Britain’s creative industries, which already contribute some £60 billion to the UK economy. We must continue to encourage expansion of the sector by providing the right kind of advice and support, such as through the Business Link network and Enterprise Capital Funds.”

Networks of ‘regional beacons’ will be established across the country to help creative industries make the most of business support available. Fund managers will be encouraged to bid for Enterprise Capital Funds, and Arts Council England will provide venture capital to small creative enterprises. Their support will be directed at projects that combine artistic excellence with commercial potential.


The Government supports current discussions between internet service providers and rights holders for action on illegal file sharing and our strong preference remains for a voluntary solution.  However, to date no voluntary agreement has been reached, and we will shortly consult on options for a statutory solution, with a view to implementing legislation by April 2009. This consultation is in parallel with the voluntary discussions and we will stop the statutory “clock” if and when a voluntary solution is reached. At the same time, we will work to promote a greater understanding of the value of intellectual property and step up enforcement action starting with a pilot ‘Fake Free London’ campaign.

We need to give our creative industries a powerful global presence and the opportunity to compare themselves with the very best in the world. The centrepiece of this will be the World Creative Business Conference, a new annual international event which we hope will become the equivalent of Davos for the creative industries.

The dynamic strategy contains 26 firm commitments for Government and industry to help creative professionals and businesses thrive at every stage of the process. The action plan is designed to evolve and respond to developments in this fast moving sector. The high level of consultation with industry that has been central to the creative economy programme will continue, with joint Government and industry working groups ensuring that the commitments are implemented. An interactive website will be set up as a mechanism through which the programme can evolve, and provide a forum for ongoing engagement.


Notes to editors

  1. ‘‘Creative Britain: New Talents for the New Economy" is published today by the Departments for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) and Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS).
  2. By 2013 we expect that the creative industries will provide up to 5,000 formal apprenticeships a year. As a major signal of the Government’s intent, we have challenged creative industries to provide these opportunities across the country and already have commitments from All Out Productions, Bluecoat, BBC at mediacity:uk, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Centini, Everyman and Playhouse Theatres, FACT, ITV Granada, LOCOG, Monkeydevil Design, Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, Liverpool Biennial, National Museums Liverpool, National Trust, NCSoft, Objective North, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Royal Opera House, Royal Shakespeare Company, Sage Gateshead, Tate Liverpool, UK Unsigned, Unity Theatre and Universal Music Group.


Comments from the creative industries:

Wayne Hemingway MBE, HemingwayDesign:

“Until recently the creative industries were seen as a bit of a Cinderella part of the economy, but things have now changed, as they should.  We’re second only to the service sector in our contribution to the economy and its good news that the Government now recognises our importance.  British design and creative community is known throughout the world for its unique approach, so it’s really important that we encourage our young talent to join the industry and carry it on into the future.”

Professor Jimmy Choo OBE:

"Having worked in London for over 20 years, it is good to see that the Creative Economy Programme will support and develop this vibrant industry even further to maximise the potential for British fashion in the international arena."

Feargal Sharkey, Chief Executive, British Music Rights:

“The Creative Economy Programme is an incredibly important initiative and it is uplifting to see government take the important role of the creator so seriously. For many, music sits at the heart of the UK's identity, cutting through barriers of class and nationality, and this country's reputation for producing fantastic, cutting-edge songwriters, composers and performers is second to none. More than that, our artists are fuelling the new digital economy not only of today, but of tomorrow - and it is time we all stood up and recognised the social, cultural and economic impact of their work. “

Moray MacLennan, Chairman Europe, M&C Saatchi and IPA President:

"The new DCMS strategy document is an important event which will mark the moment when government acknowledged that 'Creative Britain' will provide our future competitive edge. It's up to us as practitioners to seize the opportunity to be the creative hub for the world. The IPA is fully supportive of this programme and keen to play its part in bringing it to fruition.


Dr Frances Corner, Head of College, London College of Fashion:

“It is very positive to see how the Strategy Paper outlines a number of clear measures to underpin the work of the Creative Economy Programme in securing the future for the UK creative and cultural industries. From the fashion perspective I welcome in particular a number of initiatives. These include underpinning the showcasing work of London Fashion Week, which is so critical in bringing British fashion design talent to the world and meeting the very real  needs of the UK  fashion industry for high quality sample production through the establishment of a high fashion production hub. Both of these will be significant developments in helping to position the uniquely creative UK fashion sector in what is an increasingly competitive global industry.”

Ivan Dunleavy, Chief Executive, Pinewood Shepperton plc:

“We welcome the Government’s increasing focus on the cultural and economic contribution of the creative industries and Britain's role as a creative hub."

David Kester, Chief Executive UK Design Council:

“The brilliant thing about publishing a strategy for the creative economy is that it recognises how hugely important creativity is to national success.  We can sometimes take for granted that we live in an open society which allows creativity to flourish in our young people and across many diverse professions, such as design, film and music.  The creative industries are the engine room of a modern economy built on ideas and knowledge.  There couldn’t be a better era to invest in some targeted measures that will protect their development in the long term”


Key Facts About the UK Creative Industries

Economic Estimates

  • The Creative Industries accounted for £60 billion, or 7.3per cent of Gross Value Added (GVA) in 2005.
  • The Creative Industries grew by an average of 6per cent per annum between 1997 and 2005, which is twice as fast as the rest of the economy.
  • In 2006, creative employment totalled 1.9 million jobs. This comprised just over 1.1 million jobs in the Creative Industries and almost 800,000 further creative jobs within businesses outside these industries.
  • Total creative employment increased from 1.6m in 1997 to 1.9m in 2006, an average growth rate of 2per cent per annum, compared to 1per cent for the whole of the economy over this period.
  • Exports of services by the Creative Industries totalled £14.6 billion in 2005, which equates to 4.5per cent of all goods and services exported.

Industry Structure

  • The largest 200 creative industry firms account for 50per cent of total turnover, though concentration ratios vary considerably by sector.
  • Foreign owned firms account for 20per cent of employment and 28per cent of turnover.

Productivity Drivers

  • Creative industry firms are highly innovative, with 78per cent of firms classed as “innovation active”. Creative industry firms are also more likely than the average firm to use “wider innovation” and innovative products account for a greater share of their turnover.
  • The creative industries workforce is highly qualified with 49per cent of employees having at least a degree level qualification, compared to an economy wide average of 31per cent.

Growth Analysis

  • Between 1995 and 2005 start-up companies accounted for 48per cent of turnover growth, most of which occurred in their first year. Creative industry companies appear to grow slowly in the years after they start-up.
  • Software and computer games comprise the biggest sector and contribute most to growth, accounting for over 50per cent of turnover growth between 1995 and 2005.

International Comparisons

International comparisons of the creative industries are very difficult but most studies put the UK at or near the top. In 2006 the OECD found that the creative industries accounted for a greater share of GDP in the UK than in Canada, the USA, Australia or France.

  • the creative industries have grown from 5.5per cent in 1997 to 7.3per cent by the latest estimates (which are for 2005 - due to a time lag for all industry statistics.  It's also worth noting is that much of this growth occurred in the late 1990s and early 00s - in more recent years it's been broadly level).
  • a good comparator-sector is construction which was 6per cent by latest estimates 
  • the importance of the creative industries and their potentially increasing importance for the future could be illustrated by reference to their growth rates (6per cent pa on average, twice that of the whole economy) and the UK being 'at the vanguard of the world's creative industries'.  For example, most studies rank the UK at or near the top of the creative industries' share of the economy, for instance the OECD put the UK's above USA, Canada, France and Australia in a 2006 study.

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