The Independent – ‘Chancellor should invest in Britain’s thriving creative industries, says think tank’
Creative industries have received renewed attention from policy makers and the public as the UK looks to improve its sluggish economic performance. Focus from many of the broadsheets such as the article selected above point to the potential for job creation and economic growth. That is excellent, however the newspapers and policy makers are failing to see the bigger picture. There are very good non-economic reasons to invest in Britain’s creative industries. I will set out those reasons below.
The creative economy provides inspiration for many young people. Without educational games, TV programs and access to the Arts younger people would have a much less holistic education. A great example of this is the admission by Norman Foster that he played with Lego (e.g. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/11/give-girls-lego-to-build-careers). Lego inspires children and adults to build and be creative. The creative industry that devised Lego has itself produced a whole new creative class. As a nation we should place greater importance on encouraging creative industries to engage with young people so as to inspire a future generation of creative minds.
Furthermore Huber et al (1992) found that arts and cultural industries created self-confidence in communities, which improves prospects for growth. The very presence of creative industries has a positive effect on the surrounding economy.
Craft can also play an important social role within communities. Charities such as Kinder ART (http://www.kinderart.com/contests/) help disabled children; teenagers and adults find satisfaction through arts and craft. Former US president Jimmy Carter said that a democracy must be judged by how it treats the weakest and most helpless citizens. If you agree with Carter’s vision for society then you must agree that social enterprise within the arts and craft sphere offers the opportunity to achieve this vision.
It is disappointing that in recent years there have been cuts to the Arts Council England (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-20664137). Research by DiNoto and Merk (1993) showed that non-profit art organisations in the US contributed significantly to the economy. The study showed that the influx of tourists and ability to sell complimentary products meant that art projects led to a significant multiplier effect of 1.7.
This post aims to demonstrate there is more to the creative economy than simply economics. There is the potential to bring communities together, to educate, to share and to express emotions through arts, craft and other creative industries. The article in the Independent places so much emphasis on the exciting technological digital segments of the creative economy and less on the traditional arts and craft. To that extent the journalism has mirrored government policy that has been narrow and orientated around economic goals rather than wider holistic goals of improving our society. Policy makers must look to reshape the current policy set out by the CBI so as to include more varied stakeholders and recognise the significant holistic benefits the creative industries bring to the UK as a whole.
DiNoto, M. J., & Merk, L. H. (1993). Small economy estimates of the impact of the arts. Journal of Cultural Economics, 17(2), 41-53.
Huber, M., Williams, A., Shaw, G. (1992). Culture and economic policy: a survey of the role of local authorities. WP5. Tourism Research Group, Depeartment of Geogrpahy, University of Exeter, Exeter.