“We don’t need a reset, we need a re-think” – CEO blog

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July 17, 2020

Words by Angelica Bomford

Our CEO, Caroline Norbury on the launch of our Creative Coalition’s Plan to Reimagine.

With the announcement of an unprecedented £1.57 billion support fund for our arts, heritage and cultural sectors on 5th July, many in the creative industries breathed a long-awaited sigh of relief. Back in April, the Creative Industries Federation had launched the #OurWorldWithout campaign, with an open letter signed by over 400 leading creative voices including Nick Cave, Anish Kapoor, PJ Harvey, Kate Moss, Stephen Fry and Grayson Perry, drawing the public’s attention to what our world might look like without culture. By June, we had seen theatres announcing redundancies, events cancelled and major cultural institutions in deep trouble. Not to mention the impact on local cultural organisations, many of which play a vital role in communities across the length and breadth of the UK.  ‘Our world without culture’ was coming worryingly close to becoming a reality. We worked with Oxford Economics to project the financial impact of the pandemic on the creative sector. They forecast that over 400,000 creative jobs could be lost and over £70 billion lost in creative industries revenue. The government’s £1.57 billion support package has been hugely welcomed – but it is by no means a fix.

As we emerge from lockdown, parts of our sector can now begin the slow return to ‘business as usual’.  However, what has become more and more apparent is that ‘business as usual’ just isn’t working, and hasn’t been for a long time.  What the pandemic has exposed is that the very things that make the creative sector so profitable—our flexibility as mainly small businesses, our agility, the high level of commitment from so many self-employed people, and the key role we play in entertainment and the arts – have become the very things that have left us so vulnerable in times of crisis.   

We don’t need a reset, we need a rethink. Which is why we convened hundreds of our Federation members from across the country throughout June to do what creative practitioners do best: imagine. To imagine a world where creativity is placed at the heart of our culture, at the heart of our regeneration and the heart of our education system; a world where great ideas can be transformed into new realities; a world where the UK leads the globe in innovation and creativity, and in which creators are supported and valued as intrinsic parts of this process. A world which supports the key components of creativity: people, ideas and money.

The result is Creative Coalition: A Plan to Reimagine, a publication detailing our collective vision for a creative future, covering everything from creative education; to apprenticeships and training; to support for entrepreneurs and freelancers; to protection for ideas; to research and development; to a national strategy for creative investment. All with one main goal: to build a better future for everyone.

This Plan is just the beginning. We now need to come together like never before. We need to work collectively and in partnership with one another; we need to make common cause with those who want to regenerate our high streets; help our health service to become more resilient by playing our part to improve wellbeing and mental health; and educate our young people so they grow up intellectually curious, able to solve complex problems through creative thinking.  In doing so, our industry needs to reach out across the country and join up better with those from other industries, with educational institutions, and with government at a national and local level, to turn these ideas into practical solutions.

We are the industries of the future. We are resistant to automation: we employ people, not machines. We embrace technology. We have shown we can create jobs based on new global market opportunities, not the past. We are an archetype of the future of work and industry. We drive innovation and we drive change. We can see how to do things differently – and we can create a fairer,  more sustainable society in the process.  It is time for creativity to be placed at the heart of our regeneration – and at the heart of our country. We’ve reimagined our future, now it is time to create it. 

Download Creative Coalition: A Plan to Reimagine here.

Find out more about how to join us as a Creative Industries Federation member here.

Caroline Norbury MBE

CEO, Creative Industries Federation