Policy Development

Policy Environment

The UK Policy environment

For more than a decade, the UK’s creative and cultural industries have held a significant place on both regional and national political agendas. At times, however, this has been hotly debated - whether it’s determining consensuses on their structural definitions and stakeholders, or the different kinds of contributions they make to the wider economy. Indisputably, however, the creative industries are growing in importance and visibility in both urban and rural landscapes, with clear linkages to employment, education and the wider socio-economic arena. From the inception of the first Creative Industries Task force in 1997 and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s publication of the Creative Industries Mapping Document the following year, it has become increasingly clear that the creative industries are not only driving innovation and impacting our lives as consumers and citizens, but becoming essential to the infrastructure of our societies.

The UK has the largest creative sector of the European Union.  In terms of GDP, it is the largest in the world, and, in absolute terms, is the most successful exporter of cultural goods and services in the world, ahead of even the US.  The UK government has taken a lead role in developing the creative economy agenda, with extensive mapping exercises in 1998 and 2001 as well as further policy strategies and interventions in subsequent years.

The UK’s definition of the creative industries - ‘those industries that are based on individual creativity, skill and talent with the potential to create wealth and jobs through developing intellectual property’ - includes thirteen sectors: advertising, architecture, the art and antiques market, crafts, design, designer fashion, film, interactive leisure software (ie. video games), music, the performing arts, publishing, software, and television and radio. Because it was the first definition offered by a government, this original UK definition has been widely adopted by other countries, with sectors adapted based on local commercial and cultural importance.

In “The Creative Economy: An Introductory Guide”, John Newbigin identifies key conditions of growth which will help to facilitate the interplay between creativity, arts, culture, economics and technology.

Indeed, at the heart of the creative economy, there needs to be:

  • An effective system for managing intellectual property rights, along with access to culture and information for all citizens.
  • Digital infrastructure with high sped broadband capacity and universal reach.
  • Sufficient capital to be raised for creative ventures to grow.
  • Public procurement in the open market.
  • A rich, varied and distinctive cultural environment (e.g. cafes, bars, clubs, open public spaces, diverse education facilities).


Established in 2010, with an ambition to have Scotland be recognized as one of the world’s most creative nations, Creative Scotland is the new representative body for the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland; Investing in Scotland's Creative Future sets out the organisation’s vision. Two of their flagship partnerships are with the Edinburgh International Festival and the Edinburgh International Film Festival, generating £261m in additional tourism revenue for Scotland in 2010!


Skillset Cymru has devised an ambitious programme of funding for training schemes designed to benefit the Welsh Creative Media Industries in 2011. The Welsh Assembly Government, the Arts Council of Wales, and Arts & Business (A&B) Cymru have also created an investment programme called CultureStep to increase private sector support for the arts in Wales.

Northern Ireland

Skillset has recently conducted an analysis of demand for skills in the creative media industries and fashion and textiles sectors across Northern Ireland, showing significant increases in creative media employment. The growth of digital communications and global supply networks presents major opportunities for strong to medium term growth across the sector.



In 2007, the European Commission released an Agenda for Culture, founded on common sets of objectives around cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue, culture as a catalyst for creativity, and culture as a key component in international relations.

Perceiving these in the vein of support for the creative industries, the EU acknowledges how social and technological innovation, along with cross-border mobility in the cultural sector, can stimulate growth and jobs in the framework of the Lisbon Strategy.

As a party to the UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection and the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, the EU is also committed to developing a new and more active cultural role for Europe in international relations, and to integrating a cultural dimension into Europe’s dealings with partner countries and regions.

Unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries:

Recently, the EU Commission gathered views on various issues impacting the cultural and creative industries in Europe, including business environments, a common European space for culture, capacity building, skills development, and promotion of European culture and its creators on the world stage.

The resulting Green Paper has been helping ensure that EU programmes and policies involving cultural and creative industries are fit for purpose. It emphasizes that Europe is characterized by a digital economy where intangible assets, creativity and innovation have gained greater economic significance, and highlights the Commission's intention to create a single market for online content and services, a balanced regulatory framework governing the management of intellectual property rights, measures to facilitate cross-border online content services, the fostering of multi-territorial licences, adequate protection and remuneration for right holders, and active support for the digitisation of Europe's rich cultural heritage.

The Entrepreneurial Dimension of the Cultural and Creative:

Another recently released EU Commission report, The Entrepreneurial Dimension of the Cultural and Creative, provides a better understanding of the operations and needs of companies working in the Creative and Cultural Industries, especially small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The study also pulls out key determinants for strengthening entrepreneurship, such as access to finance, the lessening of market barriers, intellectual property rights, education and training, innovation, and collaborative processes.



The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has been a key player in introducing the topic of the ‘creative economy’ into the world economic and development agendas.

Its work aims to:

  • Promote the creative economy as a new source of growth.
  • Provide a platform for intergovernmental debates and consensus-building, and support government initiatives for concerted public policies and inter-ministerial action. (e.g. The United Nations Multi-Agency Informal Group on Creative Industries)
  • Liaise with governments, institutions, artists, creators, academia and civil society to strengthen the creative economy in developing countries.

Creative Economy Report 2008

Creative Economy Report 2010


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) believes that the creative industries’ international dimension gives them a determining role in terms of the future of cultural diversity, freedom of expression, and economic development. UNESCO oversees several initiatives supporting structures and practitioners in crafts, design, literature, digital media and intellectual property. Its Creative Cities Network connects cities who want to share experiences, ideas and best practices for nurturing their own creative economy.


WIPO, as a specialized agency of the UN, has an overarching objective of developing balanced and accessible intellectual property systems which contribute to economic development by rewarding creativity and stimulating innovation. It works through the mandate of its members states and in collaboration with other international organizations. As the demand for laws and standards increases rapidly, WIPO is in the process of responding to evolving external environments and urgent challenges in both developed and developing world contexts. Their free publications library is a great resource for promoting better understanding of intellectual property and its correlations to economic development.


The Commonwealth Foundation galvanises support among Commonwealth governments and civil society groups to promote healthy homegrown cultural crafts, trades and industries. Believing that sound cultural policy enables both the arts to flourish and creative industries to stimulate economic and social development, its objective is to influence government policies and regulatory practices in shaping the environments in which writers, poets, visual artists, filmmakers and other cultural practitioners are able to develop, create and perform. The foundation lends its support to initiatives that expand arenas and operating environments for cultural practitioners by influencing policy makers and the public at local, national and international levels.


Beyond the UK, many other countries have also implemented cultural policies, or are beginning to now, including those specifically geared towards developing creative industries for economic growth.

Although too many to list here, some key international organizations involved in these frameworks are


The International Federation of Arts Councils and Cultural Agents (IFACCA)

Creative Industries Development Agency (CIDA)


The European Commission

The European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC)


The Arterial Network

The Observatory for Cultural Policy in Africa


IberoAmerican IP Observatory