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14 August 2012

Why Vince should be in charge of our creative industries

Responsibiliy for the creative industries should be transferred to the business department.

By Richard Morris

Having spent two weeks glued to the Olympics, I am as anxious as the next Brit that we don’t lose the impetus and continue the fabulous development of sport in Britain. But the last two weeks have demonstrated another area at which we beat the world hands down – one that will need just as much attention as our sporting endeavours if we are to continue our world beating performance.

The closing ceremony was a paean to Britain’s second largest industrial sector – the creative industries. We celebrated music, the performing arts, fashion, architecture, and design, all of which we are world leaders in. Add in film and video – who will ever forget Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony – and TV and radio – the BBC has had praise heaped on it from around the world – and you understand that both ceremonies are a demonstration of why the creative industries will be key to any economic recovery. Indeed, this is recognised at the highest levels of government – Vince Cable made a speech stating as much just a few weeks ago:

We should be proud of how our creative industries have meshed with technology and engineering to produce products that Britain and the rest of the world wants to buy. British designers from Brunel and Burners-Lee to James Dyson and Vivienne Westwood have been admired around the world for generations. They have all contributed, not only to Britain’s reputation as an innovative nation, but also to our economic growth.

Yet strangely, the creative industries do not fall under the purview of Dr. Cable. Because they are managed, not by the Department of Business, but…by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

And this seems a touch anachronistic. I am sure the minister with direct responsibility for the sector, Ed Vaizey, is doing a fine job. But the decision to put responsibility for an industry worth around 6% of GDP and employing more than two million people in the UK under DCMS control does smack of politicians having it marked down as, well, a touch fluffy.

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Well, it’s not. It’s world leading, profitable, attracting business from the all the fastest developing economies in the world (who recognise our pre eminent skills in this area) and vital to the recovery. Shouldn’t it be treated as such and given a home in the Department of Business, Skills and Innovation? After all, – Business, Skills, Innovation – it seems to tick all those boxes.

Richard Morris blogs at A View From Ham Common, which was named Best New Blog at the 2011 Liberal Democrat Conference.

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