Government unveils new strategy

LONDON — The U.K. government launched an action plan Friday to boost creative industries in the country with the publication of a report from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Dubbed “New Talents for the New Economy,” the report outlined 26 key government and industry commitments to help nurture Blighty’s creative talents.

It marks the government’s first ever comprehensive plan to support the creative industries.

Chief among the proposed steps are securing 5,000 apprenticeships across the creative industries by 2013. The BBC, Universal Music Group and ITV Granada are among those who have already committed to the scheme.

Other plans set out include developing five new “centers of excellence” with the participation of the likes of Aardman Animations, EMI and the Royal Opera House, as well as exploring the creation of up to 25 Academic Hubs, which will bring together schools, art colleges and universities.

Initiatives also include the establishment of the World Creative Business Conference, a new international confab with the stated intention of becoming a Davos for creative industries, as well as an independent review of next generation broadband.

The government also pledged to introduce legislation tackling illegal file sharing by 2009 if Internet service providers and rights holders proved unable to agree on a voluntary solution to the problem.

The action plan is backed with £70.5 million ($138.7 million) in government coin and the full commitment of all government departments, although the exact breakdown of all the spending was not included in the report.

Some $49.2 million will be spent over three years piloting the “Find Your Talent” program around the country, which will ensure children and young people receive five hours of culture a week.

A new $984,000 pilot scheme to provide young musicians in deprived areas with opportunities to practice and perform live has also been set.

The U.K. Film Council, working with the Arts Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, will help develop “mixed media centers” in cultural venues across the country while bids for Enterprise Capital Funds will be encouraged to increase the flow of investment into the sector.

According to the report, Blighty’s creative industries — including film, TV, radio, music and fashion — contributed $118 billion in 2005 to the British economy, accounting for 7.3% of its total gross domestic product.

The creative sector grew at twice the rate — 6% — per year as the rest of the economy between 1997-2005.

In 2006, creative employment totaled 1.9 million jobs (1.1 million in the creative industries, 800,000 further creative jobs within businesses outside these industries).

“Our vision is of a Britain in 10 years time where the local economies in our biggest cities are driven by creativity,” said culture secretary Andy Burnham. “That’s why we need a clear action plan for both government and industry to keep our competitive advantage. We want to take raw talent, nurture it, and give people the best possible chance of building a successful business.”

Writing in the report’s foreword, British preem Gordon Brown added, “In the global marketplace, our capacity to break new ground will be crucial to our future prosperity, and we need to act now to make Britain’s creative industries accessible to an even wider pool of talent and to support our creative economy to enable it to grow.”

So far industry support for the measures appears to be in abundant supply.

“We welcome the government’s increasing focus on the cultural and economic contribution of the creative industries and Britain’s role as a creative hub,” said Pinewood Shepperton CEO Ivan Dunleavy.

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