Written evidence submitted by the Creative Industries Federation (LRS0016)


Following COVID-19, the creative industries will be integral to the UK’s social and economic regeneration. As well as being a significant contributor to job creation and economic growth in all parts of the UK, the sector is a vanguard for the future of work and industry - resistant to automation, built on innovation and with a high number of agile and entrepreneurial freelancers and small businesses. The sector has been central to the UK’s soft power, instrumental in bringing communities together, in driving tourism and exports, and fundamental to the nation’s mental health.


Talent and growth potential is everywhere, but opportunity is not. This challenge has now been exacerbated by the pandemic, so this submission highlights the heightened importance of strategically supporting and investing in both organisations and people across all nations and regions of the UK.


The creative industries have an integral role to play in achieving cultural and economic regeneration that is consistent with the ideals of the levelling up agenda. To enable this transformation, we need long-term systemic change in policy design and delivery - one that recognises the unique characteristics of future industries like ours. For this purpose, we have recommended that government appoint a Chief Design Adviser to implement such change across Whitehall. In the meantime, there are opportunities through the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review and domestic alternatives to European Union funding, such as the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) and a Creative Europe replacement, which we outline in this submission.



        The creative industries contributed £111.7bn in GVA to the economy at the latest estimate which is larger than the aerospace, automotive, life sciences and oil and gas sectors combined.

        Almost 1 in 8 UK businesses are creative businesses and the sector is creating jobs at three times the UK average with an expected one million more jobs by 2030. The rate of job growth in the sector is high across the regions of the UK and beyond London and the South-East.

        Before the pandemic, the creative industries were growing at five times the rate of the UK economy as a whole and in all parts of the UK, growing by almost 60% in Scotland and 35% in the West Midlands between 2010 and 2017 (GVA).

        34% of creative workers are freelancers and in some sub-sectors the figure is much higher, such as 50% in film and video production.

        95% of creative enterprises are micro businesses with no or limited HR support or financial headroom.

        Creative businesses represent over 5% of the UK economy and are responsible for more than 10%, or £27 billion, of the UK’s annual service exports.



The Role of the Creative Industries in Levelling Up the UK

The sector has a strong presence across the UK, generating growth in jobs and economic value throughout the regions and nations. DCMS’ latest figures indicate that between 2010 and 2017, the sector’s GVA grew by almost 60% in Scotland and 35% in the West Midlands. Jobs in the sector grew by 21% in Northern Ireland between 2016 and 2019 and by 30% in the North East in the same period. Highly successful ‘clusters’, such as the video games industry in Leamington Spa, Guildford and Newcastle-Upon-Tyne fuel local growth, and cultural organisations and events - and the supply chain they work with - attract significant tourism and revenue. Edinburgh Fringe Festival has delivered an estimated £1bn to the UK economy every year it’s been running.


The sector’s contribution to places also reaches beyond the economic. It plays a significant role in mental health, in bringing people together, strengthening communities and supporting the most vulnerable, which came to light in particular in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. In Northern Ireland, Arts Care has enabled visual artists to create spaces for creative expression and harnessed freelance musicians to deliver therapeutic sessions online for hospital staff. In Denbighshire in Wales, Lost in Art is a regular visual arts community group, supporting people living with dementia through weekly creative activities. These have now been transitioned online with materials being mailed to participants and weekly tutorials filmed for participants to engage with and then share their thoughts with each other via social media. Participatory, socially engaged practices such as these projects are integral to the recovery of communities and the most vulnerable post-pandemic.[1]


Tailored Interventions - Learning from the financial crisis

The UK will be best placed to recover equitably from the pandemic with a booming creative sector, but to enable this, we need to ensure that we learn the lessons from government’s response to the 2008 financial crisis.


New research by Cambridge Econometrics, released by the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre and Creative England, reveals that prior to the last recession, the creative industries were growing in all parts of the country - urban and rural - but under economic duress, those burgeoning clusters shrunk, and concentration focused back on London and satellite clusters in the South East.[2] A significant opportunity for job-creation and growth in all parts of the UK was lost. This is supported by research published in June by Creative England and Nesta, which tracked the GVA and employment growth of the creative sector from 1991-2018 in all of England’s Local Enterprise Partnerships, showing that after the 2008/2009 recession, London’s creative sector proved much more resilient. Leaving recovery to the market will entail a major setback in the levelling up agenda: UK-wide, tailored and local interventions across both investment and talent are needed to ensure opportunity and wealth is spread more evenly given the extent of the challenge that the creative industries are facing.





The Impact of COVID-19 on the UK’s creative industries[3]


        Prior to the outbreak, the UK’s creative industries were set to contribute £122bn in GVA to the UK economy and reach employment levels of 2.15 million by the end of 2020.

        Instead, the sector’s GVA is estimated to reduce by £29bn (26%) in 2020 compared to pre-pandemic levels. This is twice as worse as the predicted 12.8% drop across the UK economy.

        409,000 jobs (including self-employed workers) are expected to be lost by the end of 2020 - a drop of 19%. This is the lowest level of employment in the sector since 2013.

        122,000 permanent workers are expected to be made redundant by the end of the year.

        The impact on employment will be twice as worse for freelancers with 287,000 contracts estimated to be terminated by the end of 2020.

        Of all UK nations and regions, Scotland is expected to suffer the worst GVA impact on its creative industries, with a drop of 39% by the end of the year.

        The West Midlands is anticipating the highest relative loss of employment in the sector - a 43% loss representing 51,000 jobs.

        London is projected to have the worst overall impact - losing 110,900 creative jobs (16%) and seeing a £14.8 billion (25%) drop in creative industries GVA.


Investment and Business Support


To maximise the creative industries’ ability to contribute toward the UK’s social, cultural and economic regeneration, investment and business support must be shaped to account for the sector’s unique characteristics. The creative industries are a diverse and interdependent ecosystem made up of majority micro-businesses (95%), cultural organisations and institutions, and a significant number of freelance workers (one-third of the sector’s workforce). They are highly innovative, entrepreneurial and agile, with an intangible asset base - an archetype of future industries and the future of work.


These unique characteristics present unique challenges when it comes to accessing business support and finance. For example, 72% of businesses in the creative sector are currently under capitalised and 62% believe a lack of finance has restricted their growth in the past.[4] That failure is primarily because mainstream financiers perceive the sector to be risky. Creative businesses’ primary asset is their intangible, intellectual property, so they lack the hard assets to secure a loan. In addition, creative products and services are highly innovative, often ‘hits’ based and rarely demand led (a game or film as examples) so investors without a detailed knowledge of the sector struggle to predict the market response. Creative businesses therefore rely disproportionately on informal finance (friends, family and credit cards) to support early stage business growth, which intensifies inequality and exacerbates the lack of market intelligence.


Strategic and ambitious public investments in culture and the arts alongside tailored interventions to support creative businesses have been far more effective than more generic offerings, driving local growth and opening up opportunities to those who would not otherwise have it. Such programmes and investment must be continued and upscaled; established programmes further tailored to the needs of the creative sector; and gaps in available and in-demand finance plugged.


Case Study: Creative England Investment Programme

Creative England has used £20m of public subsidy to leverage over £80m in private sector investment to invest in early-stage creative businesses and start-ups across the country. A typical example of a start-up they invested in is a video feedback analysis company called Living Lens in Liverpool. Living Lens were initially supported with £100,000 of investment and when Creative England sold their stake, the business was sold for £20 million.


Creative England’s Investment Programme, from its start in 2012 up to now, has created almost 2000 FTE jobs with nearly half of these being in places where economic exclusion is particularly acute. The survival rate of businesses has been strong, with 83% of those supported during 2012-2017 still trading after 3 years, compared to the business national average of 60%. Within this investment period, 1145 FTE jobs were created that lasted the full five years and had median earnings which at £24,000 were above national average salaries at the time. 45% of these roles were created in areas with the highest job need, more than twice that of creative businesses nationally.


The success of the Programme leveraged £82 million in private investment (nearly five times the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) money it received) and convinced Triodos Bank to partner with Creative England on a £24m venture loan fund. The repayments from Creative England’s loan programme provided the capital that leveraged the majority of the capital sum from Triodos, generating even greater returns on investment for taxpayers.


UK Shared Prosperity Fund

European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) have been a transformative funding source for the creative sector, fuelling the development of place shaping infrastructure and economic growth, focusing on areas with the greatest need and advancing levelling up across the UK.


        Analysis carried out by the UK’s Arts Councils found EU funding contributed more than £400 million to 1915 projects supporting the arts, museums, and creative industries in England, Wales and Scotland between 2006 and 2017.[5],[6]


        Historic England and Historic Environment Scotland found heritage related projects in England and Scotland received over £480 million in EU funding between 2007 and 2016.[7]


        The British Film Institute found that the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) contributed £79.6 million to the screen sector alone between 2007 and 2017.[8]


To unleash the sector’s potential to revive our towns and cities, build community spirit and help level up growth, we must make sure the sector has streamlined access to the UK’s ESIF successor: The UK Shared Prosperity Fund.


Examples of the significant impact that has been generated by the creative industries through ESIF funding so far can be seen in the Appendix at the end of this paper. We highlight the work of the Merseyside Music Development Agency in providing specialist business support with one of their projects, Creative Advantage (facilitating various creative sector development initiatives including high-growth grants, consultancy services, workshops and even trade missions) creating 240 jobs and safeguarding a further 200 - this was equivalent to £12m of turnover being safeguarded and £25m turnover created.


Another highly effective ESIF supported intervention was Skills for the Digital Economy in Wales which provided a range of training opportunities to the creative sector based in West Wales and the Valleys. Over 975 employees and freelance workers received training in roles ranging from producing and directing to business and finance and app creation.


The replacement of European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) with the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) offers the opportunity to redesign investment and business support to better accommodate the sector’s needs, catalysing the growth of strong regional creative clusters across all regions of the country.


Facilitating smart, regional investment offers a chance to accelerate economic recovery from the pandemic, and level up the country by increasing the opportunities for creative entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into commercial success, wherever they are located. From sector consultation and direct delivery experience, we have identified eight key recommendations to ensure the UK Shared Prosperity Fund works with the creative sector, supporting further local growth and delivering even more effective use of public money:


1. Give financially equal, but simpler, access to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund for the creative sector.

The five guiding funding priorities of the current European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) are not a simple fit for the creative sector. They also make it difficult to quantify easily the amount of funding the sector has received. However, research demonstrates that despite difficulties in access, the funding secured has been significant. The sector has huge potential to contribute even more to levelling up regional growth, supporting place development and enabling cultural engagement. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund should be designed to enable creative organisations clear access routes to this vital funding stream.   


2. Devolved decision making informed by centralised, specialist support

Creative clusters in the UK take very different shapes. There is no one-size-fits-all for creative clusters and local context matters.[9] So we strongly support bottom-up, place-based decision making that can build on local strengths and target local needs. But in our experience many bodies who are keen to support creative industry development often lack the detailed knowledge needed to connect with creative businesses and design interventions that meet their needs e.g. an intangible IP asset base and 47% freelance workforce. 


There is no widely available mechanism to capture and share lessons learnt from past projects to feed into future design. There is limited coordination of ESIF projects across a region which can lead to duplication, with several business support schemes working to tackle the same issues in one area. There is also limited guidance to support project managers in project planning and implementation. Significant resources are wasted by continuously reinventing the wheel and opportunities to innovate, learn and raise universal delivery standards are lost. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund should match devolved decision making with an enabling, centralised resource that supports the design and implementation of projects and sets out what good looks like in terms of creative industries growth and support.     


3. Wider representation in local decision-making bodies

The creative industries are dominated by small and micro businesses: 95% of businesses have fewer than 10 employees, 89% fewer than 5. Frequently, local areas may have a strong and growing proportion of creative businesses but none with enough capacity to take part in local forums like LEPs. This means the creative sector can miss out on development opportunities because they do not have access to the decision-making process. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund must support wider representation in local decision-making bodies.


4. More flexible match requirements

The requirement to match fund ERDF has been instrumental in bringing together a range of partners and unlocking a greater pool of resources. But as the majority of ERDF projects have a minimum funding threshold of £1 million, to wholly own a project, organisations must contribute £500,000 in match. This means only very large organisations like local authorities or universities can bid and acts as a deterrent for private sector partners in the creative industries which has fewer large scale, regionally based businesses. 


Match-funded programmes of business support are often geared to deliver generic business support programmes to cater for the widest possible business audience. However, research shows that creative businesses do not access generic provision and look instead for programmes tailored to their needs and business models. This means they aren’t accessing the business support they need to grow. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund should develop a more nuanced approach to match funding so it doesn’t act as a barrier to access for micro businesses or block specialist provision. 


5. Retain a long-term intervention

The seven-year ESIF funding cycles enable the design and delivery of long-term interventions that create real change within places and communities. This should be retained in the UK Shared Prosperity Fund .


6. Flexibility in programme design

The ERDF is prescriptive in its programme design, demanding a rigid structure that is inflexible to the differing needs of different types of businesses. The arbitrary 12 hours of business support means that project managers can’t offer focused interventions that could be more useful to time-poor freelancers or microbusinesses. Alternatively, they have to stop supporting a business at a critical time because they aren’t resourced to continue. A key output of current ERDF programmes is full time (36 hours per week) job creation which can be harder for project focused creative industry businesses to achieve which also generate time limited freelance work alongside full time, permanent employment.  


If an element of a live project isn’t working, the process required to change it is complicated and slow. This is a particular barrier in the innovative creative industries, where the market opportunities can change quickly. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund should allow far greater flexibility in programme design so it is more agile and responsive to the needs of businesses of differing size and sectors.     


7. Simplified, tech enabled reporting to focus resources on frontline delivery

Thorough monitoring and evaluation are critical to ensure the appropriate use of public funds. But the systems used in ERDF contain duplication, rely on paper-based systems, use technology that isn’t fit for purpose and push the administrative burden through the system to project recipients. Isles of Scilly businesses spend an average of £200 on flights to Cornwall to meet project partners to complete the necessary paperwork. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund should streamline processes and make better use of technology to support both project delivery and reporting.


8. More efficient processes to allow more diverse delivery partners

The design and practical implementation of ESIF prevents many smaller organisations from delivering projects. Lengthy delays in reimbursing payments prevents the participation of smaller delivery partners who don’t have the reserves to carry up-front payments while they wait more than 12 months to be reimbursed. Only large organisations can afford to operate in this way. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund should adopt best practice in terms of contracting and payment, to allow smaller, more diverse providers to apply.


Creative Europe

Domestic alternatives to other EU funding sources that have been key to the growth of the sector across the UK will also be vital.


Creative Europe is a €1.46 billion European Union programme that has helped tens of thousands of professionals and organisations in film, TV, games, publishing, music, heritage and the performing and visual arts. It has not only been a huge contributor to the UK independent film sector, but an integral part of the success of the UK's £111.7bn creative industries, providing vital access to finance, markets, skills development and employment. The benefits of Creative Europe have been seen across the UK and the programme has had a significant impact in contributing to levelling up. The programme has funded 1766 projects in total across every part of the UK with approximately two-thirds of all funding going outside London[10]. This investment has both stimulated growth and funded projects which have delivered extensive jobs and commercial returns to local economies. 


An example of a project that has made a considerable difference to levelling up is the award winning drama Hinterland, filmed entirely in Aberystwyth, West Wales, which is estimated to have brought in £700,000 to the local area. The production company, Fiction Factory, estimate that through the contribution of tourism and the multiplier effect, the economy in the area has seen a further £2 million worth of investment due to the show. Given the producers were unable to raise the finance to start production for two and a half years prior to receiving Creative Europe funding, the programme has been a vital intervention to enabling these local benefits to take place.


Creative Europe has also provided regional benefits beyond film production, such as through funding the SPECTRA festival in Aberdeen in 2017 which was part of the ENLIGHT project. ENLIGHT supported artists to learn new skills in partnership with technical and scientific professionals and involved creating large works for international audiences. SPECTRA 2017 is thought to have generated more than £685,000 in new output to Aberdeen while boosting the economic contribution from local residents generating more than £314,000.[11]


Creative Europe has been instrumental in maintaining the international artistic collaborations that keep our creative industries world-leading, enhance our lives at home and grow the UK’s soft power abroad. We must put in place as soon as possible an equivalent to Creative Europe funding to ensure that we continue to prosper as a global leader in creativity and enable all UK regions to benefit.


Tax Reliefs

Creative industries tax reliefs have been highly effective in driving inward investment in all parts of the UK and enabling the UK's creative content and services to become both world-renowned and highly profitable. In a time when high growth is needed quickly, it is vital that the incentive they provide is maintained and extended to encompass more of the creative industries.


Existing tax reliefs in the screen sector have made a significant difference in boosting both production investment as well as the contribution of the sector to the economy and to job creation. Since the introduction of film tax relief in 2007, UK production spend on film has increased to a new high of £1.72 billion in 2016 (the most recent year for which full figures are available), with an overall growth rate between 2013-2016 of 47%. When looking across film, High End TV (HETV) and animation together, this growth figure increases to 63%.


Screen sector production supported by tax reliefs produced a total of 137,340 FTE jobs in 2016 and delivered a total of £7.91 billion in GVA. Again for those tax-relief sectors where trend data is available (film, HETV, and animation), there has been significant combined growth from 2013-2016, a 62% increase in jobs created and a 73% increase in GVA.[12]


It is important in maintaining existing reliefs that we also look at how their operation can be amended to suit the new ways in which people are working, given physical distancing requirements. For example, Orchestra and Theatre Tax Reliefs could be amended to allow for digital performances and those performances with less than 12 performers to be claimed for. Similarly, Museum and Galleries Tax Relief could be expanded to allow for claims for digital exhibitions. As we look to re-shape the way in which our economy operates incentivising investment in the creative industries will help drive long-term growth and resilience.


Additional tax reliefs would support the successful results of those already in place and could be created in high-growth areas such as music, publishing, audio production and fashion where the UK is world-leading. Policies are currently being developed by the music sector to create a tax relief in line with that provided to the screen sector to maintain the UK’s position as one of the few net exporters of music in the world. The global market is set to grow from USD 22bn to USD 45bn by 2030 and the UK should act now to claim as large as possible a share of that growth driven by the adoption of streaming. Moreover, with the right incentive and an already-established professional sector, the UK is in a good position to become one of the major global centres of audio production.


Similarly strong growth can be seen in the fashion sector, which has experienced 11% year on year growth to reach over £32bn in GVA. The pandemic has highlighted demand for on-shoring, which will reduce climate change and increase UK made manufacturing and can be encouraged through tax relief incentives. Policies are also being considered for a tax relief for UK publishing. UK publishing was set to be worth £10bn by 2030, but the impact of COVID-19 has impacted this projection. The aim of a tax relief for UK SME publishers would be to incentivise the production of British creative works, which drive export sales and UK soft power around the globe.


R&D Investment

Investment in R&D will provide a key means by which the creative industries can maintain their pattern of high growth and job creation while ensuring that these benefits are spread fairly across the country. Given the spread of the creative sector in all parts of the UK, investing in R&D will mean investing in the regeneration and success of every community. It would drive innovation at a time when it is needed most, ensuring our world-leading sector remains at the cutting edge and unlocking its potential to tackle local challenges such as the regeneration of our high streets alongside global challenges linked to sustainability and tackling climate change.


Existing R&D schemes have been highly successful in advancing innovation in the creative industries and generating economic benefits across the UK. UKRI investment in research and innovation has immense societal impact. Creative Clusters and Audience of the Future are two of the world’s largest R&D programmes for the creative industries, harnessing new digital and immersive technologies to create new markets, services and products across fashion, film, gaming, museums and theatre. Creative Clusters has provided an unprecedented £80 million to innovative creative projects across the UK while the £33m Audience of the Future challenge fund will bring together creative businesses, researchers and technology experts to create striking new experiences that will captivate the public’s imagination. More ambitious R&D investment into the creative industries is now needed to build on the success of these programmes and ensure places across the UK retain and strengthen their innovation. Investment in R&D should also be linked to building, retaining and protecting Intellectual Property assets.


In addition to R&D funding, R&D tax credits could play a significant role in driving inward investment into the UK via the creative industries. Research by the consultancy OMB for DCMS suggested that there are “high levels of research and development (R&D) among creative industries firms, with 55% of all creative industries firms having conducted R&D in the last year”. This is much higher than other sectors of the economy with UK Investment survey data showing that just 16% of all UK businesses had invested in internal R&D. However, under the government’s existing R&D framework for the purposes of tax credits, based on a narrow use of the OECD Frascati definition, only 14% of creative businesses qualify compared to the 55% who would qualify under a broader definition[13] that would encompass the creative industries.[14]


It is vital therefore that we look to achieve a targeted expansion of R&D tax credits to encompass much more of the creative industries and protect levels of innovation investment at a time when firms would otherwise struggle to afford it. As an initial point of urgent intervention to support a strong recovery, a one-year broadening of the tax credit definition could be considered. This could then be evaluated for retention over a longer period based on its effectiveness.




To ensure that we spread growth and opportunity throughout the UK, we need to invest in people as much as we do organisations. Cultivating and attracting the next generation of diverse creative talent and ensuring our sector’s significant freelance workforce is better supported are among our sector’s top priorities.


As we head into the upcoming unemployment crisis, with young people and those from the lowest socio-economic backgrounds and most deprived parts of the country likely to be the worst affected, we need to establish new ways of generating opportunities for the full diversity of individuals whose talent will lead us to economic success and social prosperity. Creativity and creative skills will be crucial to the recovery of not only our sector but the economy at large. The opportunity to learn creative skills must therefore be guaranteed for all. This means prioritising and resourcing creative education and training at all levels to ensure access to the greatest diversity of individuals, regardless of background or location.


We need to accompany this by proactively connecting young people, graduates and trainees with employers and mentors across the creative industries, with a particular focus on those who do not have these links. For those still in school, we need to build on the successful Creative Careers Programme which last year reached 113,000 young people in 1500 schools, connecting them with more than a thousand employers so they could make informed choices about how to embark on a career in the creative sector.


We also need to reimagine the apprenticeship system, recognising that in the creative sector a 12 month apprenticeship contract with a single employer may not be realistic but could be accommodated by adopting a modular system to skills development and a consortium approach to delivery. We strongly support the Creative Industries Council’s proposals on the Apprenticeship Levy and the practice of those in the devolved administrations, allowing greater flexibility in the pooling of levy funds and enabling the existing apprenticeship levy to be part of a broader skills levy.


This support needs to extend to our freelance community, who play a vital role in future industries like ours and whose entrepreneurialism, agility and propensity to innovate will be key assets as the UK looks to recover and grow. The pandemic has brought to light just how vulnerable this part of our workforce is because they do not receive the same level of support as PAYE workers. The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme is estimated to have excluded 3 million self-employed workers across the economy as a whole[15] with many of these being personal service company directors, PAYE freelancers and the newly self-employed in the creative sector. Securing fairness in the benefits and social security for self-employed workers, and incentivising entrepreneurs to start their own portfolio and business, is crucial.


Finally, our domestic success is underpinned by the international talent we attract. People, places and organisations across the UK rely on such talent to secure their world-leading status, drive tourism and fuel innovation. The UK’s immigration system has often presented barriers to ensure we make the most of these opportunities, and our exit from the European Union will present further challenges, particularly for Britain’s small businesses and the temporary movement of artists, performers and those touring to deliver high-value services. It is important that the UK’s new immigration system is tailored to the unique nature of the creative sector, and recognises the widespread growth that global talent brings.




ESIF Case Studies - Impact of ESIF Funding on the Creative Industries


Merseyside Music Development Agency, Liverpool


The Market Failure:


Prior to the introduction of the Agency’s programmes with support from ERDF:


  1. Public sector business support (e.g. Business Link) was too generic for the creative sector, lacking sufficient specialist knowledge to add significant value and failing to understand the specific needs and nature of the sector.
  2. Private sector advice, including consultancy IP lawyers, sector-specialist accountants and consultants, was seen as value-adding but very expensive. This was particularly the case for start-up creative microbusinesses but also for Merseyside businesses more broadly given regional economic inequalities.
  3. A lack of access to information of sources of business support and grants presented a barrier to businesses taking up the few opportunities available.


Project Overview:


The Agency initially provided business support services to the music sector from 2003-2005 and built from the success of this to launch programmes for the wider creative industries under the heading Creativebias.


Creativebias’ “Move on Up” provided assistance to creative entrepreneurs at pre-start and start-up stages through advice and mentoring, highlighting key information, start-up grants, training and workshops, networking sessions and access to IT facilities. Running concurrently with “Move on Up” from 2005-2008 was “Creative Advantage” which facilitated various creative sector development initiatives including high-growth grants, consultancy services, workshops and even trade missions.


The end of Creativebias was followed by Amplifi from 2007-2008 which was a creative enterprise programme for 14-25 year olds. Amplifi offered work experience placements, the opportunity to participate in creative projects (such as fashion shows, magazine and video production), as well as access to IT training and resources.


Key Performance Indicators:


Employment and Turnover - Effect of the Programme on Businesses Engaged


Creativebias “Move on Up” resulted in 170 new business start-ups while Creative Advantage created 240 jobs and safeguarded a further 200 - this was equivalent to £12m of turnover being safeguarded and £25m turnover created.


Amplifi resulted in 175 young people receiving qualifications and/or entering into employment.


Additionality - External Investment Leveraged


“Move on Up” was delivered by MMDA, as part of a wider Merseyside-wide cross-sector ERDF & ESF business start-up programme with multiple providers (each contracted separately by Government Office North West). While £0.5m was supplied through ERDF and ESF, this was matched by a further £0.5m from the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Department for Trade & Industry, and the North-West Development Agency.


“Creative Advantage” was a Partnership programme led by Liverpool City Council (Merseyside ACME) in partnership with Creative Partnerships, MMDA (t/a Creativebias) and Knowsley MBC. The overall budget for the programme through all partners was £2-3m with MMDA contributing £850k, of which £330k was ERDF funding.


Amplifi” was part of a Merseyside-wide cross-sector ESF programme and was able to leverage £260k in voluntary/private sector cash contributions and in-kind matched funding on top of £130k of ERDF funding.


Quotes and Endorsement from Participants 


Chris Meehan, CEO, Centric Music:


“Really simply, we had a business model that was unique and disruptive in the music publishing space. We couldn’t attract seed investors as it was a little bit early stage with no proof of concept and we didn’t have the resources (I was still in university) to launch on our own. Technology was a big part and I was able to get a match from a software development firm (their founder became my co-founder) and we received a £15k start up grant and some mentoring from MMDA to build a proof of concept version of our first platform.


We now employ over 75 people with head office in Liverpool, offices in London, Hamburg, Palma, New York and Los Angeles. We represent over 1.4m songs from over 220,000 songwriters in 150 countries and will turnover approx. £24m in 2020. We’ve invested over £2m in the software platform that we started building with a £15k grant and it’s industry leading in the music publishing sector. Along the way we’ve won numerous awards, had worldwide number one singles and albums.”


Skills for the Digital Economy, Wales


The Market Failure:


Wales has seen the number of people classed as ‘internet non-users’ halved from over 20% from 2012-2018. However, Wales still has the lowest proportion of its population equipped with ‘Basic Digital Skills’ compared to Scotland and NI and regions of England. Wales also has the highest proportion of those with zero basic digital skills, with one in five (19%). With digital skills lacking in the wider population and having an increasing role in meeting the demands of the workplace and economy, funding for training is vital to embed digital expertise within businesses and their communities.


Project Overview:


Skills for the Digital Economy provided a range of training opportunities to the creative sector based in West Wales and the Valleys. The programme, which ran from 2011 to 2015, was part-funded by the European Social Fund via the Welsh Government with additional funding support from the Welsh language broadcaster S4C and the trade association for Welsh TV producers, Teledwyr Annibynnol Cymru (TAC). The total programme budget amounted to £4.2m, with £2.6m of that made up of ESF.


Key Performance Indicators:


Engagement - Individuals Reached


Over 975 employees and freelance workers received training in roles ranging from producing and directing, business and finance, and app creation.


Turnover - Effect of the Programme on Businesses Engaged


The cumulative turnover that could be attributed to the initiative by 2020 would be £9.3m.




The Creative Industries Federation is the independent body which represents, champions and supports the UK’s creators and creative industries. Its membership includes small and large businesses, charitable organisations, education providers, freelancers, trade and sector support bodies from across the sector and throughout the UK.


August 2020


[1] Responding to COVID-19: Sharing stories from creative professionals across the UK, Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance, 2020

[2] The importance of a UK-wide recovery plan for the creative industries, Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance, 2020

[3] Report: The Projected Economic Impact of COVID-19 on the UK Creative Industries, Creative Industries Federation, 2020

[4] Access to Finance, BRDC/CIC, 2018

[5] Figures aggregated from ‘Assessing European Union’s contribution to the arts, museums and creative industries 2007-2016 in England, Wales, and Scotland. Analysis carried out by Euclid on behalf of the Arts Council England, Wales and Northern Ireland and Creative Scotland in 2017

[6] £230million of this EU funding went directly to ESIF projects, £224 million of this to ERDF and ESF projects

[7] The European Union’s contribution to Scotland’s historic environment 2007-2016 Euclid on behalf of Historic England and The European Union’s contribution to Scotland’s Historic Environment 2007-2016

[8] Mapping Study of EU funding in UK screen sectors 2007-17 - BFI, 2018

[9] The Geography of Creativity in the UK, Nesta, 2016

[10] Mapping Study of EU Funding of the UK Screen Sectors 2007-2017, A Report for the British Film Institute, March 2018

[11] The Impact of Creative Europe in the UK, Drew Whylie Projects with the support of Creative Europe Desk UK, 2018

[12] Screen Business: How screen sector tax reliefs power economic growth across the UK. Summary Report, British Film Institute, 2018.

[13] R&D in Creative Industries Survey, Research Report, OMB Research for DCMS, 2020

[14] Defining R&D for the Creative Industries, Hasan Bakshi and Elizabeth Lomas, 2017

[15] Three Million Excluded - The Breakdown, Excluded UK, 2020