Creative Industries Sector Deal
The long awaited Creative Industries Sector Deal was launched today on a wet, dark Wednesday morning just before the Easter Recess.
Policy leads, government officials and industry experts came together through a marathon of round tables, meetings and conference calls over the last 12 months. If nothing else, it demonstrated how collaborative and collegiate the Creative Industries can be. And after reading the deal last night, it was heartening to see games and interactive entertainment getting such a strong mention, including of course our fantastic Digital Schoolhouse programme powered by PlayStation UK.
Challenged by Government to come up with something “new” we individually and collectively put forward and refined the same issues and recommendations we have been lobbying on for as long as I can remember. More public funding for cultural content, suring up the talent pipeline, greater support for international trade and protecting IP, the life-blood of the creative industries. Our task made all the more difficult by that unrelated and vague issue called Brexit (although we were assured that Brexit had nothing to do with the Industrial Strategy).
In November, Chancellor Hammond launched his 2017 Autumn Budget. It contained new money for the games sector in the form of an extension to the hugely successful UK Games fund along with additional wins for R&D, Computer Science and Maths education and there was additional investment announced for the creative industries through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ICSF) in the form of £79m. These were hard fought for by the sector and the result of tireless work by my colleagues getting our case up the political agenda. The deal announced today is largely a packaging of these prior wins therefore. There are few surprises and there is very little in terms of “new”. However, it does set everything neatly together. It provides a focus for us and it challenges the sector itself to do its own bit.
I have long argued against an over-reliance on public funding hand-outs. The games and interactive entertainment sector is currently thriving despite minimal public intervention. Whilst we will continue to make the case for new investment to promote trade and to inspire cultural, risky, innovative and non-commercial content, essentially what we really need from Government is a stable regulatory environment, certainty over issues like market access and labour supply (cough, Brexit) and the support and commitment that today’s sector deal signifies.
Today’s announcement carries with it the hopes and expectations of one of the fastest growing, most vibrant and innovative sectors in the economy. It rightly puts our sector’s case for investment in the centre of industrial policy. The deal contains commitments to action for both Government and industry across all of the priority areas we identified so we should welcome this as a positive initial step.
The UK games and interactive entertainment industry is a critical part of the UK’s cultural and creative story and this Sector Deal is a solid foundation to build on to ensure our future growth. The emphasis on investing in diverse 21st century skills and careers, the focus on local cluster growth and the acknowledgment that our future cultural and economic productivity has much to gain from grasping the opportunity that emerging technologies such as AI, AR and VR offer is hugely promising. We look forward to working on behalf of the sector to ensure these foundations enable our industries to thrive