UK creative industries booming

Creative industries booming across the UK, according to new report

Business news: the creative industries are growing faster than any other business sector in most of the UK according to new data, with 47 "creative clusters" now scattered across the country – including "less 'hip'" areas like Slough and Chester.

While London is still responsible for 40 per cent of all creative industry jobs and a third of creative businesses, smaller clusters are thriving across the country, according to The Geography of Creativity in the UK report.

"While it is well known that the creative industries are engines of growth in cities like London, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh and Cardiff, their importance in other parts of the UK is less widely appreciated," says the report, which includes a map of the country's 47 "creative clusters".

"The map confirms that creative clusters have a dominant presence in London and the south east (which together comprise around a third of clusters identified). But just over one-fifth of clusters are found in the north of England, and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all feature too."

UK creative industries booming
Map showing the creative clusters identified by Nesta's report in the UK – click for larger image

The findings – based on data collected prior to the EU Referendum – show that the number of creative businesses is growing faster than other sectors in most areas of the UK.

"Between 2007 and 2014 more than nine in 10 of the 228 metropolitan areas, or travel-to-work-area geographies, that make up the UK experienced faster growth in the number of creative businesses than in the whole business population," says the report.

"Over two-thirds of these areas saw faster growth in creative industries employment than in overall employment too."

Although the biggest clusters are found in major cities, smaller areas dotted around the country are also becoming increasingly significant.

UK creative industries booming
An analysis of business activity from 2014 showed that creative employment and businesses were concentrated in London and the south east – click for larger image

Almost 13 per cent of business in High Wycombe are classed as creative businesses, and 10 per cent in Cheltenham. Other examples include Harrogate, Slough, Guildford, Chester, Peterborough, Middlesborough, and Penzance.

"These clusters – specialising in a smaller number of creative sub-sectors with a high technology component – may be less 'hip' than creative cities like Brighton, Liverpool and Glasgow, but our research suggests they make significant economic contributions," says the report.

"In particular, they are associated with larger-sized creative businesses, and potentially higher levels of business productivity."

The report compares data from 2007 and 2014, combining information from the National Office of Statistics and other sources on the number of creative businesses, supply of university graduates and research, and analysis of networking activity harvested from online platforms to create a heat map of creative hotspots around the country.

UK creative industries booming
A graph from Nesta's report demonstrating the rapid expansion in the number of businesses in architecture and design – click for larger image

Design, software and digital businesses had the highest rates of growth. But most creative sectors have a smaller average firm size – down to 3.3 workers in 2014 from just under four in 2007.

Architecture firms in particular are on average 10 per cent smaller than in 2007, while the number of firms grew by over 20 per cent.

The findings come in the wake of government statistics that showed the creative industries were responsible for generating £8.8 million an hour.

But the results of the recent EU Referendum have raised concerns about the future of the creative industries in London and the rest of the UK.

"It is too early to predict the impact that Brexit will have on the creative industries," said Juan Mateos Garcia, head of innovation mapping at Nesta and one of the authors of the report.

UK creative industries booming
This graph produced as part of Nesta's report shows the growth of various sub-sectors within the creative industries across various metrics between 2007 and 2014 – click for larger image

"Among our recommendations for their future success in the report is maintaining their strong global reach and influence," he told Dezeen.

Last week, Dezeen held a Brexit design summit with key figures from across design and architecture, who described the shock and worry in their offices after the referendum.

Nesta, which describes itself as "an innovation charity with a mission to help people and organisations bring great ideas to life", teamed up with Creative England – an organisation that helps fund creative businesses as well as offering mentorship and advocacy – to produce the report.

"This report clearly shows the power of the creative industries to drive jobs and prosperity - not only in London and the south east, but in communities across the UK," said Caroline Norbury, chief executive of Creative England.

"It is more crucial now than perhaps ever before, that we work together to make sure our creative industries are equipped to play their part in driving a strong economy and maintaining our position as a world leader in an increasingly competitive global marketplace."