Economy: Creative Industries
Lord Howarth of Newport (Labour)
My Lords, the creative industries are indeed precious, and we must nurture them. A balance-of-payments deficit on manufactures of £60 billion a year takes a lot of offsetting. Even after exporting Tracey Emin to Venice, we shall still not be paying our way.
Creative industries are a mixed bag in terms of economic performance. While the growth in gross value-added of software, computer games and electronic publishing over a sustained period has been 11 per cent a year, the growth in GVA of designer fashion has been zero. If a skull, even a diamond-encrusted skull with a £50 million price tag, is to be emblematic of our economy as well as of our culture, then whispers of immortality may be deceptive. At all events, we need to be very good indeed at the creative industries, not least because they are growing fast in this country and in others—faster, even, in some other countries than they are here.
What should the Government do? They should improve education for creativity. This is not easy; our educational tradition has been good at developing the rational and analytic faculties but much less effective in developing the imaginative and synthetic abilities. But if we can improve, through education for creativity, the self-confidence of young people, their motivation and their capacity to communicate along with their self-discipline and capacity for self-criticism, the benefits across the whole range of learning and the development of young people will be immense.
The Government should energetically implement all the very sensible recommendations of the Roberts report. In addition, they should continue to help link the universities and the creative industries, as the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, has just said, and continue to back the very important work of knowledge transfer that the AHRC is doing.
Otherwise, the Government should fund generously our museums, galleries, libraries, archives, theatres and orchestras—all our cultural organisations—so that they flourish. You get what you pay for. They should regulate sensibly; intellectual property rights should be flexible to adapt to the new situations that technological change creates and enforceable globally so that creativity is rewarded instead of sapped by the depredations of piracy and counterfeiting. They should tax sensibly: if the research and development tax credit excludes knowledge transfer in the creative industries from tax relief, then that should be changed. They should support creativity locally and regionally. There should be a duty on local authorities to support their own cultural institutions, with the resources to do so. They should enable access to finance for people who present themselves to the banks, as Oscar Wilde presented himself to the customs officer in the USA, saying:
"I have nothing to declare except my genius".
There must be affordable premises. The Government should promote clusters and critical mass. The lessons from London and Liverpool are that the preconditions of creative success are liberal migration policies and liberal attitudes to lifestyle.
I hope that we shall see the Green Paper soon. After all, by the end of this month, the DCMS and the DTI may not even exist. I certainly hope we shall have a statement in July of a new, coherent vision. Above all, the Government must demonstrate that they value creativity. The irony is that if you support culture as a good in itself, it will repay you economically.