Centre of Excellence for Policy and Evidence in the Creative Industries

Lead Research Organisation: Nesta
Department Name: Policy and Research


The UK's creative industries are a national economic strength. Since the turn of the decade, employment, exports and output growth has easily outstripped that in the rest of the economy. Yet, behind this rapid growth lies structural challenges and business uncertainties. And while there has also been rapid growth in academic research on the creative industries, major gaps remain in the evidence base.

The PEC will seek to address these and bring about a step change in the quality and quantity of evidence used to inform decision-making with respect to the creative industries. We propose to organise the PEC's work activities in five overlapping workstrands, each led by an expert UK research centre, and coordinated through a Management Board, chaired by Nesta. We indicate our current thinking on priorities below, however in the first year of the PEC's operation we will consult extensively with industry and policymakers on research questions and beyond that keep the PEC's research agenda relevant and inclusive through ongoing engagement and a mixture of commissioning research activities.

In workstrand 1 Creative Clusters, led by the Science Policy Research Unit at Sussex University, we want to map and visualise the UK's creative clusters by mining official, open and online data sources, and plugging data gaps using a survey instrument based on that used in the AHRC-funded Brighton Fuse and Creative Fuse North East studies. We will investigate local spillovers between creative and other industries, and conduct foresight activities that will engage industry and policymakers on future opportunities and challenges.

In workstrand 2 Skills, Talent and Diversity, led by The Work Foundation, we will track the evolving employment needs of the creative industries. The supply of talent to the creative industries has failed to keep pace with demand - a challenge exacerbated by a lack of diversity. Further, technological, consumer and global trends are driving a shift in production methods and commercial models, creating the need for 'fused' creative, digital and entrepreneurial skills. The PEC will explore how industry, policymakers and educators should respond.

In workstrand3 Intellectual Property, Business Models, Access to Finance and Content Regulation, led by CREATe at Glasgow University, we want to develop digital and open data tools that consolidate the evidence on the effects of IP rights on creative production and consumption, changes in business models, and the emerging data economy. We will undertake research on the challenges for the production, distribution and international exploitation of UK AV content in the context of evolving technologies, globalisation and Brexit. We will also research barriers to finance in the creative industries and how policies should address these.

In workstrand4 Arts, Culture and Public Service Broadcasting, led by the School of Journalism, Media and Culture at Cardiff University, we want to focus on the opportunities and risks for value creation in creative industries arising from public investment in cultural institutions and public service broadcasters. A priority will be to analyse the challenges arising from the use of digital technologies in the arts, entertainment and news (including platform expansion, data analytics and personalisation, and experimentation), and what policymakers, regulators and funders can do to support the creation of value.

In workstrand 5 Creative Industries and International Competitiveness, led by Newcastle University Business School, we will deliver a better understanding of the UK's creative industries in the international economy, including how FDI, immigration and trade influences the spatial distribution of the creative industries. We also propose to improve our understanding of the consequences of Brexit for the creative industries and to inform international trade and investment policies to promote their interests going forward.

Planned Impact

The principal beneficiaries of the PEC will be the UK's creative industries, who will benefit both directly from research and insight that addresses industry challenges and indirectly from policies that are grounded in a more robust evidence base.

The PEC comes at a time when the UK's creative industries face critical questions about their economic future. They will benefit from the PEC in a number of ways. First, through a programme of timely research, data and evidence gathering that addresses their most important questions, and that is communicated in ways that industry can relate to. Second, from evidence-based recommendations in all relevant policy areas that the PEC will energetically communicate to policymakers. Third, through our proposed Research Partnership and Research Co-commissioning engagement models, the PEC will help to build research capacity in industry organisations too, an essential part of the AHRC's ambition to "foster an R&D infrastructure for the creative industries" (p2, Creative Industries Clusters Programme Scope).

We believe that the industry letters of support we have included only scratch the surface: organisations who have indicated their strong interest in partnering with the PEC and co-commissioning research in particular, but who are not yet able to quantify their commitments, include Arts Council England, Creative Scotland and the British Council. The Creative Industries Federation, an important member of our consortium, will play a key role in growing the PEC's industrial partnerships, though the local business networks of all of the universities in our consortium, which span the whole of the UK, will play an equally important role.

The PEC's beneficiaries will also include UK (and other) policymakers, who will benefit from the PEC's evidence-based policy ideas and recommendations, as well as having access to the same research and data sets that will be made available to industry. The PEC will also signpost to creative industry policymakers the excellent resources on policy evaluation that are becoming available to policymakers more generally e.g. Nesta's Alliance for Useful Evidence, the Innovation and Growth Lab and the What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth (where co-investigator, Dr Nathan, is Deputy Director), and it will publish additional guidance where there is a need for something specific to the creative industries.

Other beneficiaries will include the wider community of academic researchers. The PEC will be built on a dynamic, multidisciplinary, open and inclusive network, connecting researchers with policymakers, practitioners and other researchers committed to knowledge exchange. Therefore, as well as benefiting from commissioning of external research activities, academics will through the PEC have opportunities to form new research collaborations, access data and develop their research skills is new areas. The PEC will prioritise early career researchers in its skills development activities and will also reach out to the Doctoral Training Partnerships that are based in universities in the consortium.

The AHRC's Creative Clusters R&D Partnerships will also benefit from the PEC's work in areas, like cluster development, intellectual property and R&D, and from the PEC's cross-cutting activities, like market and technology foresight, as well as the open data that the PEC will publish. For its part, the PEC will actively look to make use of, and integrate into its wider programme of activities, the research conducted by the R&D Partnerships.

One of the consortium's distinctive strengths is its nationwide reach: this will ensure that creative businesses and policymakers at local, metropolitan, regional and national levels throughout the UK will benefit. We believe strongly that good policy advice depends critically on having local expertise given the diverse forms of policymaking and governance that exist in the UK's nations and regions.


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