Last Thursday, Progress and Campaign TV staged a joint event in Westminster on the creative industries. The event followed the publication of the government's long-awaited strategy paper on the creative economy.
There was opening presentation by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Andy Burnham and a response statement the chair of the UK Film Council, Stewart Till. The editor-in-chief of Media Guardian, Janine Gibson, chaired the event.
Here are some of the main points that came out of the meeting:
Andy Burnham argued that the strategy paper showed that the creative industries were now being taken seriously in government for their role in regeneration and economic growth. This was also reflected in recent favourable spending settlements for DCMS.
Another change over Labour's decade in power was that the place of broadcasting - certainly its preeminence among the creative industries - was now much more uncertain in the digital age.
Burnham also argued that although the digital age - internet 2.0, MP3s - had thrown open the creative and editorial process in music, TV, writing, film, the creative industries themselves were still to large extent dominated by a metropolitan, often Oxbridge-educated elite. The challenge was two-fold: how to reward those young artists release their wares via these new media; and how to give people from non-traditional backgrounds access to working in the creative industries.
Stewart Till paid tribute to the late Anthony Minghella, who he said 'set the standards for the creative industries to follow'.
Britain was beginning to wake up to the power of the creative industries, in a way that Hollywood had done fifty years ago. The British film industry had grown at 6-7% per year in recent years, far ahead of the economy as a whole.
The present government had been a friend of the creative industries. The former secretary of state, Chris Smith, 'got it', as did his film minister, Tom Clarke. The recent strategy paper was full of 'smart ideas', especially regarding training and education, IP, and other pressing digital copyright issues.
Some questions coming out of the debate:
How will the creative industries give better access (eg to people from the regions) by improving and formalising access to internships and channeling more revenues towards formal training?
How will the government encourage the creative industries in the regions (eg like the BBC's Salford media village)?
Will the government compel internet service providers to crack down on illegal downloads - if so, how?