Under the influence
They get a lot of attention, but why don’t the creative industries have the influence that they deserve?
When a newsreader interviews a representative of the London business community, it is almost never from the creative industries. Equally, when a politician talks to business leaders, they rarely choose the creative sector to talk to (one of the few exceptions might be Martin Sorrell from advertising giant WPP).
The big business is not creative
But the creative industries are a major player in London. Around 12 per cent of all London workers – 550,000 people – are creatively employed in the city. But even proportionately they do not have the same political influence as other sectors, such as finance (970,000 jobs) .
In London, big business rules, and not much big business is creative. The largest companies in London (by value) are HSBC, JP Morgan Chase, Pfizer, BP and Citigroup. None are in the creative sector. And as an indicator of the size of these companies, HSBC is worth over 100 time the value of WPP, the largest of the advertising conglomerates. In fact, the creative sector is overwhelmingly small - around 94% of companies have fewer than 10 staff.
So to aggregate these opinions, much of the creative sectors joins trade bodies like PACT, the BPI or UKScreen. These are all important, effective organisations, but their membership is just not large enough to give them the clout that they need. Rather than a Creative Industries trade body, we have about 50, all representing small sections of the industry. They may give better representation, but they have less clout. And many, artists in particular, cluster together in collectives to represent themselves (as for Creekside Artists, seen above).
Another concern is that trade bodies, and big creative sector companies, have chosen the wrong battles. Much of the lobbying for the creative sector has been focused on issues such as IP, tackling digital piracy, etc, which can make them look out of touch and mean they waste their effort.
And my final factor, the creative industries don’t have influence because they’re complicated. As a sector it is difficult for politicians to meet the demands of a large advertising conglomerate on the one hand, compared to a small antique shop on the other. In contrast, there are only big steel mills and vast steel mills. The diversity and variety of the creative industries ecosystem is one of the sector’s strengths, but it is also one of its weaknesses.
- David Chipperfield – great art doesn´t need government subsidies
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