It has been a very busy time for bloggers, commentators and experts across the Creative Industries over the past few weeks. In fact, it has been a fascinating time to see some of the industry’s most considered voices fly the flag for what the Creative Industries actually ‘are’!
No sooner had ‘that’ speech from Maria Miller leaked that it provoked a lot of passionate and insightful follow up (handily rounded up by BOP here) that the DCMS definition of the Creative Industries is open to change.
…. And the definition may no longer include Crafts!
The DCMS started a consultation paper, unexcitingly (but still importantly) called Classifying and Measuring the Creative Industries.
The paper states: “We recognise that high-end craft occupations contain a creative element, but the view is that in the main, these roles are more concerned with the manufacturing process, rather than the creative process,” says the paper.
Arts and antiques will also be dropped from the list of recognised creative industries, while other categories will be merged into “broad creative industry groups”.
The report also goes onto acknowledge the increasingly important role of IT, software and digital software.
Before I go on, it has been announced as a consultation! So, in the spirit of a consultation, the decisions are not yet set in stone! So it means we can have our say … allegedly!
The government is entitled to reflect the developing nature of what the creative industries encompass. For those reasons, I’m not about to the belittle the integration and important role of digital into the definition, that is providing that we are also strictly adhering to the CI definition being about ownership of the IP (etc, etc,).
Yet I think the proposed removal of crafts raises quite fundamental questions about the definition, what it is to be a creative and the nature of IP in all of this? However you describe people working in crafts, whether designer makers and craftspeople, they are creative. I, like many of them, take real issue with the ‘manufacturing’ tag, which simply does not apply to so many makers out there who don’t manufacture or mass produce goods!
In light of Maria Miller’s speech, it is quite easy to arrive at a conclusion that the Crafts definition is not being removed from the CI definition, for anything other than re-aligning of the definition to justify the Creative Industries in terms of GVA and other financial measurements!
Indeed, the redefinition is focussed upon measuring the contribution to the economy of creative industries (e.g. employment, occupations, skills and of course GVA). Which ones do you think apply to the proposed removal of crafts?
The Creative Industries has always been a broad church! Some sub-sectors are more successful than others, and indeed within the crafts, this is very much the case!
Admittedly, many thousands of craftspeople turn over very small amounts of income making data collection difficult (see the Craft Council’s Craft in an Age of Change report). At the same time, I have worked alongside and with a number of phenomenal craftsmakers and designer makers who are amongst the most active, successful and well respected creatives that I know!
So, what would removing Crafts from the CI definition say about the 88,000 people in the crafts who contribute to the Creative economy? Like the arts, and to paraphrase Maria Miller, the crafts are being forced to “hammer home its economic value” and as Julia Bennett freely admits, “what doesn’t get counted, doesn’t count!”
It is little wonder that we should all totally support Graham Hitchin’s rallying cry for the high-profile experts (i.e. who have measured the Creative Industries and get it!) to get round the table and have a serious dialogue!
As a final passing comment, as many questions are being asked about how this definition works, we need to consider that many of us operative in portfolio careers, and thus we fit across multiple sectors, and not just sub-sectors within the arts and creative industries! Our broad creative (and in turn economic) impact extends far beyond the measures that DCMS uses. Check out, in particular, to Clare Hodgson‘s excellent piece on flexible working as a starter for 10.