The creative industry in a Conservative England
Our membership of EU was a great thing for the British creative industry especially as we were lucky enough to be among the millions of people that benefited from EU funding for our work. Whether we like it or not, the conservatives are now a majority government and with their tag line ‘Get Brexit done’ tattooed on the mind of the nation, the future certainly will be, well, interesting. But we like to keep our friends close and our enemies closer so we’ve been studying the Conservative manifesto to see what the nation has let ourselves in for, but also to see how their plans for the future will affect us and the creative industry as a whole.
Unsurprisingly the creative industry doesn’t seem to be a huge priority for the Conservatives in the next five years, which is reflected in the manifesto by only mentioning creativity a few times. But one of the most important mentions of creativity is on page 13;
‘We will invest in arts, music and sport. Over the last nine years we have made real improvements in maths, English and science, and given more children access to a rich academic curriculum. We retain our commitment to the core subjects and also want young people to learn creative skills and widen their horizons, so we will offer an ‘arts premium’ to secondary schools to fund enriching activities for all pupils.’
This is, of course, a good thing. A push towards creativity in the youth today could lead to some incredibly talented artists, animators and creators of the future.
The Creative Industries Federation commented on this part of the manifesto by saying ‘The inclusion of the Arts Premium for secondary schools to ensure all young people have the opportunity to learn creative skills and broaden their experiences is vital. However, for this to have the best possible impact we urge that it must be accompanied by putting creative subjects back at the heart of the curriculum.’ In addition, it is a well-documented fact that studying the arts and drama, in particular, are conducive for creating more rounded emotionally intelligent youngsters... so that’s something to look forward to.
Here at Giggle, we’re part of the 95% of creative industries that are micro-businesses so any changes to business laws and regulations could and will massively affect us and the rest of the industry. On page 32 the manifesto focuses on the world of small businesses and startups. They state:
‘We will cut the burden of tax on business by reducing business rates. This will be done via a fundamental review of the system, as well as extending the discount to grassroots music venues, small cinemas and pubs’ they then go on to say ‘We will increase the Employment Allowance for small businesses- a tax cut for half a million small firms.’
Tax cuts are big winners at the polls even though cutting taxes can only be done if we all accept less investment elsewhere. It remains to be seen who will bare the cost of this micro windfall which on the surface appears to be more about winning votes than any real economic policy. Lets' see if it manifest(o)s itself in the real world. (sorry about the Dad joke from Jon - it was a vain attempt to cheer everyone up!).
There also seems to be a strong focus on education in the manifesto that could help small businesses thrive:
‘we will create a new National Skills Fund worth £3 billion over the next Parliament. This fund will provide matching funding for individuals and SMEs for high-quality education and training.’
This may go some way to help bridge the skills gap that has opened up in the industry but it may take a long time to filter through to companies like us as a lot of infrastructures has to be related to implementing any training programs.
One of the ways that we survive as an SME is by using freelancers, so it is important to us that the Conservative Government support those who choose to be self-employed. More than one-third of people working in the creative industries are freelancers, so any changes would have a huge effect on the creative industry as a whole. The manifesto states that they:
‘will launch a review to explore how we can better support the self-employed. That includes improving their access to finance and credit (not least mortgages), making the tax system easier to navigate, and examining how better broadband can boost home-working.’
This will undoubtedly come as music to the ears of thousands of freelancers, although the last part does feel like a response to someone else’s manifesto.
It’s not a lot for an industry sector that underpins the cultural identity of the nation. But now that we know what to expect, we can and need to use this information to hold the Government accountable over the next 5 years.