Credit: Geishaboy 500/Flickr

Britain's creative industries could be generating £100bn by 2018

From Downton Abbey to Grand Theft Auto, Britain's creative types mean business.

by Jack Torrance
Last Updated: 03 Jul 2015

It’s easy to deride the creative industries as a bit fluffy compared to more traditional industries like retail, manufacturing and trades. Society is full of commentators lining up to decry those who chose to study and pursue careers in arts, media and entertainment and despair at the relative long-term decline of the country’s heavy manufacturing sector. But figures continue to show the creative industry is generating substantial wealth for Britain.

Despite being hit with a 5.8% slump in turnover in 2009 thanks to the financial crisis, the sector has bounced back and grew 13% to £141bn in the three years to 2012. Its gross value added (GVA) – a more accurate reflection of its contribution to the economy, which excludes the cost of buying in goods and services – has grown alongside this, and reached £61.1bn in 2012, equivalent to 4.8% of the whole economy’s GVA.

Research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, compiled for the University of Falmouth, project the sector’s GVA will grow by 7% annually and reach more than £100bn by 2018. It expects employment to grow 3.1% each year over the same period, meaning the creation of 150,000 new jobs.

‘The UK creative industries are well established and admired on a global stage. With market leading talent blazing the trail for the creative industries in the UK, now is an exciting time to be in the sector,’ Professor Anne Carlisle, vice-chancellor & chief executive of Falmouth University, said. 

Released last year, Grand Theft Auto V is a controversial videogame developed by Rockstar North, the Edinburgh-based subsidiary of America’s Rockstar Games. It went on to become the fastest-selling entertainment product in history, generating worldwide sales of $1bn (£640m) of global sales in just three days.

And computer programming, a broad category, is by far the most successful area of the creative industries. Its turnover in 2012 was £50bn, up from £44bn in 2009. Film, TV and music is the second largest category, turning over £28bn in 2012, up from £22bn in three years ago. Unfortunately for MT, publishing is stagnant at around £19bn – the same level as 2009.

‘Our gaming and motion picture industry in particular is world class – with Grand Theft Auto V and Downtown Abbey being well known examples - and the UK economy must continue to capitalise on this lead,’ Carlisle said.

British culture is popular in a lot of countries, with the likes of Harry Potter, Doctor Who and One Direction (if you consider them culture...) having become global brands. The report found creative industry exports rose 17% in 2010 to £23.4m and a further 5% in 2011 to £25bn – 5% of all exports.

The coalition is keen to take advantage of this potential and has invested in programmes such as UKTI’s Music Exports Growth Scheme to try and maximise British creative success overseas. Mind you, it will take a lot of One Direction album sales for the Government to meet its target of £1tn in UK exports by 2020.

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