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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

UK's Creative Industries - Economics

Yesterday the UK Government's Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) published the 2015 update of the UK's creative industries' contribution to the economy. The headline is, drumroll please, "the sector is growing at almost twice the rate of the wider UK economy - generating £9.6 million per hour." [The creative industries include: advertising and marketing; architecture; crafts; design (product, graphic and fashion); film, TV, video, radio and photography; IT, software and computer services; publishing; museums, galleries and libraries; and music, performing and visual arts.]

Cat Piano 1883, by La Nature 
Why does this matter? Money talks. The creative industries and IP are heavily linked. It was not that long ago that the 'creative industries' were referred to as the 'copyright industries.'  Policy discussions on copyright or design always consider the creative industries. The more the an industry contributes to the economy, the more power that industry has in policy discussions, and the more sway lobbyists have with politicians.

IPKat readers know to look a gift statistic in the mouth. The DCMS press release places a lot of emphasis on upcoming blockbusters in film, music, tv, publishing and video games <Merpel would like to borrow DCMS's blockbuster-predicting crystal ball>.  However, looking under the lid shows that 43.5% of value of the creative industries comes from the IT, software and computer services sector. There is no doubt that software is a creative sector, but the cultural and media-focus of the press releases skims over the dominance of IT. Something to keep in mind when discussing copyright.

A bit of history and some numbers

In 2001, after some wrangling, the UK government agreed a definition of the creative industries.  In 2014, they agreed a methodology to specifically developed to estimate the economic contribution of the creative industries. This methodology starts by identifying occupations considered creative and calculating the 'creative intensity' for all industries.  All industries with a minimum of 6,000 jobs and a 'creative intensity' of more than 30% are then classified as creative industries. The corresponding data from the government's Annual Business Survey (a business census) is then used to estimate the size of the sector.
Wain Cat

This approach to measuring an industry is unusual. Industries are typically measured relying on the Standard Industrial Classifications (SIC) system. However, SIC fails to capture the breadth of the creative industries, as creative occupations are scattered across different fields. For example, the fashion industry falls under design services, but argues its economic contribution should include fashion stores, which are classified under retail services. Hence the development of a creative-industries-specific methodology.

The music sector is arguably so poorly served by both of these methodologies, that the 2016 update notes, "the industry and occupation codes do not allow the contribution of music to be satisfactorily identified as a separate category." In yesterday's update, music is combined with performing and visual arts, which together contribute £5.4M. Unusually, the government's DCMS and the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK governmental statistics body, are working with industry group UK Music to separately measure the music industry. The result, Measuring Music, suggests the industry contributed £4.1 billion to the UK economy in 2014.

It is hard to measure the creative industries, but the numbers are important. According to Minister for Culture Ed Vaizey, the UK creative industries are, "worth a staggering £84 billion a year."  Staggering indeed.

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