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Don't forget the cultural economy

Razia Iqbal | 15:03 UK time, Monday, 15 June 2009

Could the creative industries provide innovative models which will make this sector not just resilient in the current economic climate, but allow it to flourish?

There are economists who think this is happening already. Recent research from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta) suggests that the cultural sector will grow by 4% between 2009 and 2013 - double the estimate for the rest of the economy.

fta.gif There are parts of this sector which are clearly feeling the effects of the recession, such as architecture and advertising. But others, like the video games industry, are burgeoning. There is a skills shortage, however, which means companies such as RealTime Worlds, in Dundee, run by Dave Jones (he created the original Grand Theft Auto), are having to look abroad for employees. Yet the currently available University courses on video games technology are over-subscribed. Surely, this is an area where the government should be looking to invest?

I've been talking to Lord Puttnam about this and he is a passionate advocate of investing in the creative industries. He thinks they are where young people want to work and argues that the government dismisses their potential at its peril. This goes to the heart of an argument that historically presents the arts community as whingeing luvvies. In fact, the reality is that the creative industries will by 2013 employ 1.3 million people and the wealth generated by these industries could reach £85 billion. It is the economic case for the arts that those in the creative industries need to make.

filset.gif The National Campaign For The Arts has launched its arts manifesto today which includes a section on the economy: "To maximise the sector's potential, governments should commit to investment over a longer funding cycle of five years, more in line with established business planning". That's one thing, but the creative industries also need to make a case for funding connected with private investment. If the state funding diminishes, so will private sponsorship, so it's in the interests of the state to maintain investment.

The UK is uniquely good at creativity and innovation. Even in difficult times, institutions such as the National Theatre are innovating. Their NT Live project, which will project Racine's Phedre with Helen Mirren, live into 70 cinema screens around the UK, creates a new model to increase audiences.

For many bold enough to say so, the creative industries can be part of the solution to get the economy out of recession.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    When reality is so bleak, we turn to fantasy. I don't believe an economy has every turned around on entertainment, but revolutions have certainly been instigated by the arts. That is why the rich fund the arts to make sure the ideas for change do not attack the fundementals of their wealth and are presented with a civil tone. Prudent investment. Individuals from the financial industries, flush with cash from the retirement accounts of working folks, would like to give back to the community. Noblesse Oblige.

  • Comment number 2.

    It seems like a wonderful initiative and NT should be applauded for their efforts. But it's misleading to label it as a "new model" given the success of the Met Opera simulcasts...

 

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