Latest statistics show that 2014 was a good year for the UK’s creative industries – and there are good times ahead with work on the new James Bond film proceeding apace, the new Star Wars films, new games production and more.
Recently released data shows records being broken in music, UK video games continuing to lead the European market and British film fascinating audiences through prolific titles such as 12 Years a Slave and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
The government offers support to creative industries through the Creative Finance Network, specifically designed to help creatives understand the complexities of finance and find the money they need to make their ideas a reality. The site includes an overview of the publishing industry, although resources are limited – only a web link to the Professional Publishers Association’s helpline is featured, a free service for PPA members.
The site also features a Case Study for Nom de Strip, an arts publication published in the South West that featured some great illustration work, but fails to provide any links to the title itself. Sadly, after a web trawl, I discovered their site – but ironically it’s been on hiatus for some time due to lack of funds!
There are more comprehensive links offered on CFN for musicians, games designers and designers, however, and there’s no denying that while the British comics industry continues to wobble (despite the enthusiasm of both independent creators and some publishers), the creative industries as a whole saw a lot of success last year. Between January and October 2014 the top five British films collectively brought in £72.93m to the UK box office, with the last quarter of the year seeing the release of titles such as The Imitation Game and Mr. Turner, which also did string box office.
The BFI London Film Festival, which promoted SF films last year, enjoyed record numbers of audiences, 163,000 people attended the festival – a 7.5 per cent increase on the previous year and the highest number of attendees to date.
The global film industry continued to seek out British talent and technique, evidenced by the opening of a UK branch to Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light and Magic, a great step in film production that could lead to more epics being made in the UK, building on the success of films such Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, which has achieved worldwide and award-winning success.
Pinewood Studios and Warner Brothers Leavesden continue to go from strength to strength, with both the next James Bond and Star Wars films in production.
On the video games front, the UK games sector – where a number of comic creators also work – is renowned for its talent and for the creativity and innovation of its products. Many world-beating games originated from British developers including Grand Theft Auto, Elite, Lemmings, Tomb Raider, LittleBigPlanet and Moshi Monsters.
The UK is also a leading investment destination for overseas video games companies. Examples include Warner Bros’ acquisition of Traveller’s Tales (also known as TT Games), makers of the developing LEGO gaming series (LEGO Batman, Star Wars and Harry Potter). The UK is also home to the largest games development community in Europe with 1,902 video game companies based in the country with the potential of bringing in an estimated £1.72bn to the UK economy.
To further support the UK’s video games industry, the Government’s Gaming Tax Relief, one of a number of tax reliefs also extended to the Animation and TV industries, introduced in 2014, which could be worth £25 million per year for the industry. The government says this will also open up further opportunities for training and employment.
On the music scene, figures reveal that nine of the top ten biggest selling artist albums of 2014 were UK acts, with Pharrell Williams being the only international artist to make the cut. Ed Sheeran received the title for biggest one-week sales of any artist album in 2014, for example, while Sam Smith was named the only artist in the world to sell a million albums in both the UK and the US this year. One Direction have been titled the first band in history to have their first three albums top the US Billboard chart.
The Government continues to invest in the long-term development of British music through schemes such as the Music Export Growth scheme, which is providing grants of up to £50,000 to support independent music companies market UK music overseas. There is also a focus on providing access to learning, nurturing the growth of future talent, with the Government investing £171m into Music Education Hubs to ensure every child aged 5-18 has the opportunity to sing or learn a musical instrument.
“2014 has been a fantastic year for UK music, film and video games,” commented Ed Vaizey, Minister for the Creative Industries. “It’s great to see continued growth across all our creative industries with more investment going into training and production. Together the sector contributes £70bn to the UK and so a vital part of our economy. I look forward to 2015 with the expectation of even greater things to come.”
“2014 has been a growth year for the UK’s creative industries with many developments, initiatives and international awards,” says Nicola Mendelsohn, industry co-chair of the Creative Industries Council and Vice President for EMEA at Facebook. “The Creative Industries Council launched CreateUK – the first ever industry-led strategy to ensure growth and secure further jobs in the UK and internationally. It will also play an important role in exporting UK creativity to the rest of the world and encouraging inward investment here.
“The sector has found a strategy and working arrangement with Government that means we are well placed to continue to secure the UK’s place as a leading global hub for the creative industries for the decades to come.”
With last year a profitable and exciting year across all the creative industries, the Government says it remains committed to the growth of the sector through measures such as tax reliefs, inward investments and the creation of opportunities through access to training.
It would be great to see greater and more directed support for comics among all these initiatives though, wouldn’t it?
• More information on Creative Industries UK and the CreateUK Strategy: http://www.thecreativeindustries.co.uk/
• More information on Creative Industry Tax Reliefs: https://www.gov.uk/corporation-tax-creative-industry-tax-reliefs