I beg to move,
That this House has considered support for the UK’s creative industries and their contribution to the economy.
It is a pleasure to begin this debate. I applied to the Backbench Business Committee with the hon. Members for Warwick and Leamington (Chris White), for Edinburgh West (Michelle Thomson) and for Dundee West (Chris Law) because this House needs to recognise the vital role the creative industries play in our culture and economy. The issue has not been debated in this Chamber for some considerable time, and I thank hon. Members from all parts of the House who supported the application.
I also put on record that I am on the steering committee for Sunderland 2021, our bid to be the 2021 capital of culture. Although the role is unpaid, I feel I should note it, as I will be referring to Sunderland 2021’s work in our bid to become the UK city of culture.
The UK is a world hub for the creative industries. They showcase the best of our country. They are outward looking, innovative and successful. Their achievements can be seen throughout the length and breadth of our country, and I am sure hon. Members from all parts of the House will speak about the wonderful creative elements of the constituencies they represent, just as I will discuss the vast creativity in Sunderland Central.
The hon. Lady has started in a very positive fashion, which I much appreciate. I used to be the chief executive of a film and video production company that had a rule that 40% of our income must come from overseas. Has she thought about the contribution of the creative industries to this country’s exports?
Absolutely. The creative industries are almost a hidden gem because they are so good at creating wealth and turnover, exports and imports, but they are not as glamorous as the manufacturing industries. I entirely accept the hon. Gentleman’s point.
The creative industries comprise many sub-sectors—advertising, architecture, arts, crafts, design, fashion, film, music, performing arts, publishing, television, research and development, software, toys, games, radio and video games, and the list goes on. Part of the reason why the creative industries are hidden is that the range is so vast. I sincerely hope that today the House will pay tribute to the essential role that they all play in helping to drive innovation and growth. We are world leaders in these fields and there are many, many success stories. The BBC, as recent debates in this Chamber and elsewhere have shown, is envied and renowned around the world, creating a staggering £8 billion of economic value for our country. Every £1 spent on the BBC through the licence fee produces £2 worth of value through employment, economic opportunities and expenditure.
The fashion sector is the largest employer among the creative industries, supporting almost 800,000 jobs. In 2014 the direct value of the UK fashion industry to our economy was estimated to be £26 billion. Many of our authors are facing economic uncertainty, but they are among the most talented in the world, providing engaging scripts for TV, film and theatre, producing literary gems and submitting content for interactive products and services. Our authors play a key role in the UK being a nation of readers.
Just this week the Department for Culture, Media and Sport announced that the UK’s creative sector is booming. Jobs in the creative industries have increased three times faster than the UK average in other sectors. It is estimated that those industries generate almost £10 million an hour for the UK economy, totalling an incredible £84 billion a year. The figures are staggering.
In 2015 there were 1.9 million jobs in the creative industries, up 19.5% since 2011, accounting for one in 11 of all jobs in the UK. More than 60% of the jobs in and around the creative sector are skilled to degree level or above. It is therefore extremely concerning that the University of Sunderland in my constituency has reported that there has been a reduction in the number of applications that it has received from students wishing to study arts, culture and creative subjects. Last month Ofqual announced that entries for GCSEs in arts subjects have fallen by 46,000 this year, compared with 2015.
Before coming to this place, I worked in the creative industries for almost 20 years. As a graduate in economics, may I gently point out that it is not only those who have studied pure arts subjects who can contribute to the creative industries, which form one of the greatest exports this country has?
I totally accept that point. The figures that I have quoted on the value of the creative industries to the economy show their importance. We certainly need people with other skills, including economists, to be part of that. However, it is a worrying sign that applications for creative subjects have gone down. I hope the Government will act to promote creative subjects at GCSE, A-level and BTEC, and champion the many universities that offer thriving creative programmes.
I want to focus on the brilliant creativity and culture in Sunderland Central, the constituency that I live in and represent. Sunderland has been a centre for culture and higher learning since the 7th century. Benedict Biscop built St Peter’s church and monastery in 674 AD on the site that is now occupied by Sunderland University’s riverside campus. Among the earliest students at the monastery was the renowned author and scholar, the Venerable Bede. Sunderland’s proud history in glassmaking and glass art dates back to this period, when the first stained glass ever made in England was created for St Peter’s church by craftsmen who had come to Sunderland from France. The National Glass Centre, which has undergone a £2.5 million redesign, is located in my constituency and tells the story of our city’s glass production heritage and attracts more than 200,000 visitors every year. As well as teaching and research in glass and ceramics, the centre continues to manufacture glass.
As I mentioned earlier, in order for the creative industries to continue to thrive, we need to ensure that creative subjects are not side-lined in our schools, and that our universities continue to aid students’ creative development. I am proud that in my home city we have a fantastic institution for higher education at the University of Sunderland, which specialises in courses that equip graduates with the skills that the creative sector needs. Over the past 10 years the university has invested in cultural and creative education, including the Northern Centre of Photography, the David Puttnam media centre, Spark FM, the Priestman fine art and form studios, and the mediaHUB.
This year construction has begun on a new centre for enterprise and innovation at the university’s city campus. This hub, which will become home to the north-east’s first FabLab, will support businesses in Sunderland and the wider region, allowing companies the space that they need and providing them with access to a higher level of professional and academic expertise. No doubt the new centre will build on the university’s strong track record in support for innovation in my city.
It is fair to say that the creative industries are growing in our country, in large part due to the digital economy. In Sunderland we used to be renowned for our coalmining and shipbuilding industries. Now, Sunderland is leading the way in the north-east, with a thriving software sector comprising 150 firms in the city, with a vision for future expansion. The major success story has been Sunderland Software City, an ambitious partnership between the public and private sectors and the university. Its aim is to support innovation and growth in the north-east software industry. Since it was established in 2009 it has assisted over 300 software businesses and helped 150 start-ups. It has sought to attract investment and skilled workers to our region. Now more than 32,000 people are employed in the north-east’s IT sector, and global tech companies have established permanent bases in Sunderland, providing high-skilled, quality jobs and promising career paths for our young people.
As I said earlier, I am a member of the Sunderland 2021 steering group—a group of stakeholders from culture, education, business, media, health and economic regeneration, working to steer the strategic direction of the bid and help to build a compelling vision for the development of culture in Sunderland over the next decade. Our city’s bid to become the city of culture in 2021 showcases the very best of Sunderland, particularly its creativity. It is a shining light on our vibrant home-grown music scene. Sunderland-based bands, such as Field Music, the Lake Poets, Lilliput, Hyde & Beast, the Futureheads and Frankie and the Heartstrings, have generated almost £1 million-worth of worldwide record sales. The bid also has the support of our famous sons and daughters, such as Dave Stewart, previously of the Eurythmics, and Lauren Laverne.
Sunderland has wonderful venues for musicians in which many talented artists have performed. I pay tribute to the tireless work of those who sustain live music venues in Sunderland, and to the Stadium of Light, usually home to Sunderland football club. In the summer it has been hosting concerts from some of the biggest names in world music since 2009. Last week Beyoncé kicked off the UK leg of her tour at the Stadium of Light. The stadium is built on the site of the last big coal mine in the city.
I pay tribute, too, to the fantastic work of Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture Trust, better known as the MAC Trust, which has been a driving force for the many wonderful things happening in arts and regeneration at the heart of the Sunderland 2021 bid. Since 2012, the trust has sought to implement ambitious plans that are now coming to fruition, with a vision for Sunderland’s future as a vibrant, creative, exciting place where the arts, music and culture flourish. The trust is establishing a cultural quarter in the heart of our city by converting some of Sunderland’s historic buildings into cultural hubs. The trust is also behind the cultural spring project, working with the university and the Customs House Trust to transform the way in which the people of my constituency and the constituencies of my hon. Friends the Members for South Shields (Mrs Lewell-Buck) and for Washington and Sunderland West (Mrs Hodgson) view, experience and make art.
I am immensely proud of the work that is going on in Sunderland and I am delighted that I have had the chance to showcase the wonderful role that creative industries play in our local culture and economy, and the importance of this sector to the national economy. This debate will also give other Members the opportunity to show the immense breadth and diversity in this sector, which all too often is not talked about, in terms of the economic benefit we can get from the industries.
I am delighted to follow the hon. Member for Sunderland Central (Julie Elliott) and to have listened to her remarks. I thank the Backbench Business Committee for allowing us to secure this debate, which we have called to highlight the significant contribution the creative industries make to the UK and to stress the importance of its continued support whether through investment, financial measures or general wider awareness.
The hon. Lady mentioned various lists in her speech. Creative industries cover a number of iconic and diverse national treasures including the Tate, Pinewood Studios, the British Library, Adele—my favourite, rather than Beyoncé—and the BBC. It is also important to consider the wider economic benefits. The creative industries contributed £84.1 billion to the UK economy in 2014, equivalent to £9.6 million every hour, with an annual growth rate of nearly 10%.
This debate offers us an opportunity to celebrate our creative industries and consider how best to make sure the sector’s potential is realised. It is clear that the creative industries are flourishing and are playing an ever-increasing role in our economy, with growth outstripping that of the finance and insurance sectors and employment up by 5%, significantly higher than the 2.1% UK average. With this in mind as well as Nesta’s estimation that 35% of all occupations will become automated in the next two decades, a highly skilled and creative workforce, where human ingenuity cannot be replaced by robotics, will become even more important. It is perhaps appropriate at this juncture to congratulate the Minister on being the longest serving arts Minister in our nation’s great history.
Recent figures show that the number of jobs in the creative industries increased by 3.2%, which is about 1.9 million jobs. The increase since 2011 has been nearly 20%. These headline statistics are important, but we must also nurture skills and the flow of talent into the sector. It is therefore vital that we continue to encourage and inspire our young people to become more involved in, and aware of, the sector. In this context, I commend the Government on introducing coding to the curriculum in 2014.
We must continue to allow and help businesses to hire skilled individuals, and to do so from a strong UK base of talent. It follows that, with such a high growth rate for the creative industries, we must not allow a skills gap to develop in this sector. From primary school level through to our colleges and universities, I urge us to nurture creative talent, to allow the UK to become internationally renowned as the place to do business in the creative sphere.
In my constituency, Warwickshire College sets a strong example, offering a wide range of courses in related subject areas to ensure that students are able to develop skills, and this approach should be taken up more widely. The United Nations defines the UK’s creative industries sector as being at the crossroads between the arts, business and technology. We are at the forefront of the sector internationally and I suggest that our global ranking of 1st in terms of soft power is largely due to the rich culture and cultural sector of our country. Joseph Nye, originator of the concept, highlighted three pillars that contribute to a nation’s soft power, one of which is culture. Our creative industries underpin this success.
As co-chair of the all-party group on video games, it would be remiss of me not to mention that sector and its huge contribution to our economy. I am pleased to see my fellow co-chair, the hon. Member for Dundee West (Chris Law), in his place, and I look forward to hearing his remarks.
The industry employs 24,000 people across 12 clusters in the UK, with a significant number of games companies based in my constituency. The UK games industry blends the best of British technology, creating games that are exported around the world. With the global market expected to expand by 8% annually over the next five years, we cannot ignore it.
An important point to put on record is the need for the video games sector to be seen in the context of contributing to our cultural make-up, and I believe it is right that it is put on the same footing as film and television in terms of investment and the way it is perceived for its cultural contribution to our society. Parliament can and must do more to champion games as a mainstream creative tech industry right across the UK, and funding should equitably recognise the sector as such.
Warwick and Leamington is home to 40 companies providing 1,200 jobs, and has acquired the nickname of “silicon spa”, which I am beginning to feel is unfortunate. Video games tax credits have been a major boost for the business both locally and nationally and I encourage the Government, after the good work they have done on tax credits, to make sure the industry is far more aware of the advantage this will give. We need to push for greater awareness of games developers’ access to tax credits. Some 237 games were approved for tax relief in 2015, and that number must surely increase to help other companies working hard in this industry.
We must also continue to invest in the arts, following on from a long tradition of doing so and maintaining world-class museums and galleries. The UK now invests, unfortunately, a smaller percentage of its GDP in arts and culture than the EU average and less than competitors such as France and Germany. This is something we should talk about in the coming months.
The arts foster an environment in which ideas are cultivated, and our tourism trade, which is such a prominent feature of our economy, benefits enormously. London theatres generated nearly £100 million in VAT receipts in 2013, which was a record. Furthermore, spend on Arts Council England represents 0.1% of total public spend in England, yet arts and culture contribute 0.4% of UK gross value added. Public investment yields excellent returns, and I hope that the Minister will indicate the Government’s intention to look more closely at increasing such investment. With more investment comes greater diversity and increased opportunities for ideas to become commercial success stories. The exponential growth of creative industries also needs to be recognised in Whitehall, especially by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which fails to note the sector as part of its industrial growth data.
This ties into my contribution to the most recent Queen’s Speech debate, in which I called for the implementation of an industrial strategy. As part of that cohesive and concise document, which I envisage to be a rolling progress report from the Cabinet Office, the Government should outline their promotion and support across the creative and cultural sectors. The Government’s export target of £1 trillion annually by 2020 is very welcome, but we must allow industries with such significant growth potential to flourish. Industry leaders have put forward proposals that could add £31 billion by 2020 to our exports.
Turning briefly to the digital economy, I note the Digital Economy Bill introduced to the House on Tuesday. The drive to rapidly improve our infrastructure will have very positive impacts on our ability to innovate, to create and to improve productivity. Digital technology is embedded in much of what we do, and I support the Government in providing our wealth creators with the ability to produce world-class products. The digital economy strategy produced by Innovate UK seeks to take inspiration from the creative industries, which have been at the forefront of innovation in many aspects of life. Of course, confidence to invest is key, not least in industries that require long-term decision making, so I urge that the creative industries be a major consideration as we enter negotiations with the EU.
In sum, I am pleased that we have the opportunity today to raise the profile of our creative industries. The statistics speak for themselves in the tremendous contribution the sector makes to our economy, and I call on the Government to support and recognise this and to allow the potential of the creative industries to be realised. The UK can, and should, be seen as a creative powerhouse.
In his autumn statement, the Chancellor said:
“Britain is not just brilliant at science; it is brilliant at culture too. One of the best investments we can make as a nation is in our extraordinary arts, museums, heritage, media and sport.”—[Official Report, 25 November 2015; Vol. 602, c. 1368.]
If we do not also invest in education that prepares children to play roles in those industries, we will slide backwards. Many of the people in this debate participated in the Westminster Hall debate earlier this week about the impact of the EBacc on education, theatre, art, drama, music and other expressive arts. Our concern during that debate was that there is a direct relationship between the introduction of a mandatory EBacc in a limited number of subjects including none of the aforementioned, and the reduction in the number of students taking GCSEs, A-levels and other examinations in those creative subjects.
The Minister for Schools, in arguing that there had been no such decline, relied on figures that were at least a year old to sustain his argument. He said:
“My assertion is that there will be no significant fall in the arts subjects as a consequence of the EBacc figure of 90%.”—[Official Report, 4 July 2016; Vol. 612, c. 215WH.]
I have seen evidence that such a fall is already occurring. If our figures are correct and if there continues to be a decline, I want the Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy to meet his colleagues in the Department for Education and persuade them of what I am certain is the unintended consequence of the EBacc proposal. Ministers say that we need the EBacc to get us to the same level as Iceland, Ontario and many countries which frankly are nowhere near ours when it comes to the performance of their creative industries. Will he agree to meet the Minister for Schools and ask him, if the decline continues, to include at least one of these expressive subjects—students should be able to choose which—within the suite of mandatory GCSE subjects? If we do not do that, we will slide backwards. There is no doubt that our brilliant creative industries depend enormously on children having experience of drama, dance, art, and music in school, and on the creativity that has traditionally been part of UK education.
A number of things that are now part of the creative industries were not invented when I was at school: video games, beatbox, Twitter—those things simply did not exist. Indeed, email did not exist. We must ensure that young people get experience at school of the creativity that is possible, and of the disciplines and craft that lie at the heart of many of our creative industries. Earlier, the right hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mrs Miller) said that it is not necessary to study those subjects professionally to be creative, which is absolutely true. However, it is necessary to have experience of them, and I am concerned about the number of children—specifically those in the least privileged communities—who are losing contact with those experiences.
There are wonderful opportunities. Earlier this week I was at the National Theatre watching the Connections youth drama festival. It showed outstanding work done by young people in theatre groups around Britain. However, many young people have never had the opportunity to participate in a live performance of music or theatre, and many have not experienced or learned from someone who is employed in a creative industry.
When the Minister responds to the debate, will he commit to discussing with the Department for Education whether my prediction about what is happening to expressive arts subjects in our schools is correct? Will he speak directly to Ministers about ways to end that decline, and will he ensure an opportunity in our schools for children to experience live theatre, and for every child to visit a museum and hear directly from someone who is employed in a creative industry and who makes their living through creating things?
As a previous primary school teacher, I know that children are creative. Play is children creating things, but often that creativity is driven out by the way we teach them. Instead of driving out their creativity, we must give children the skills that allow their innate creativity to be developed. That means not just investing in education, but for the Minister to expect all arts organisations to take their responsibility to young people seriously. I am not saying that arts organisations do not do that—I have just cited an example of one of our premier arts institutions that does exactly that. A few days ago I went to the Barbican, and children were part of the performance of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’s last opera. There are lots of good things to be proud of, but every child should have an opportunity to engage with some of our great creative institutions and learn from them, so that in future our creative industries can make the most of that talent.
I refer the Minister to Dickens’s “Hard Times”. Sissy Jupe, who knew everything there was to know about horses because she worked in a circus and her dad ran it, was unable in a single sentence to define a horse because it was such an exciting animal, whereas Bitzer, pupil No. 6, came up with the right answer: “Quadruped. Graminivorous,” he said. That is what we are heading for in our system. We reward the Bitzers of this world and do not nurture Sissy Jupe’s understanding. I know the Minister would like to do that. He could interact with the Department for Education to change its Gradgrind approach and ensure that every child in Britain has a chance to learn how best to use their creativity.
I thank the Backbench Business Committee for the debate and the hon. Member for Sunderland Central (Julie Elliott) for pushing for it. It is crucial to have time in the House to discuss the creative industries and their contribution to the economy. It is a broad topic, and rightly so given the immense variety of roles within the creative industries. As chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on music, I will focus my brief remarks on that sector. I fear I might be spoiling the Minister, who has had to listen to me talk about this subject twice in two days. I am sure he can cope; he has held the brief for a long time.
I should like to highlight statistics from the recently released reports from UK Music, the representative body that does such a great job in supporting parliamentarians and in other work within the industry. The reports demonstrate how vibrant and productive the music scene is in the UK today. The “Measuring Music 2015” report showed that the music industry contributed £4.1 billion to the UK economy in 2014, and that it involves 117,000 full-time jobs. A huge number of those jobs are creative: musicians, composers, songwriters and lyricists alone accounted for £1.9 billion.
Not only is music vital to our economy in the UK; it is also our face to the outside world. The report found that music exports accounted for £2.1 billion in annual revenue, which is more than half the industry’s gross value added, as compared with about 30% in the economy as a whole. One in seven of all global album sales were for British artists, and five of the top 10 selling albums in 2014 were by British artists—that is before artists including Adele delivered another blockbuster year in 2015.
The “Wish You Were Here 2015” report reinforced that message. Direct and indirect spend from music tourism in 2014 was some £3.7 billion. Many right hon. and hon. Members will enjoy festivals around the country this summer—I have already seen the Secretary of State at a festival. I am disappointed he is not here, but he may very well be at a festival somewhere in the UK, and I am sure the Minister will do a fantastic job in replying. That £3.7 billion is a 7% increase on the previous year. Some 38% of our live music audience were music tourists who came here seeking out their favourite British artists. They spend an average of £852 in the UK, all of which sustains more than 39,000 full-time jobs in Britain.
UK Music is undertaking a census of the live music scene in key UK cities, which has never been done before, so that policy makers, planners, local authorities and others for the first time have access to the data they need to assess the impact of decisions on the music industry in their areas. The first report is the Bristol census—I note that the hon. Member for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy) is in her place—which showed that, in that city alone, live music generated £123 million of revenue in 2014. I look forward to more reporting so that we have the knowledge rather than just the desire to do right by our music scene and those who work in it.
The Scottish Affairs Committee’s report on the creative industries in Scotland, published in February, recommends that the UK Government work with representatives of the creative industries in Scotland to assess how creative tax reliefs could be adapted so as to be of greater benefit to Scotland. That could include variable rates of tax relief for different parts of the UK, creating a tax relief for the music industry and piloting a tax relief for small and medium-sized enterprises working in the creative sector. Will the hon. Gentleman join me in calling on the UK Government to disclose what measures have been taken in this area so far?
That is a reasonable thing to ask. Unfortunately, the Minister is not in his place, but I shall remind him. Perhaps the hon. Lady could intervene on him later. It is absolutely right we do whatever we can, right across the UK, to ensure creative industries are given all the tools necessary to continue to grow this part of our economy.
When we speak of the contribution to the economy, we must remember that the economy is not just some vague term. The economy means people’s jobs and their ability to make a living. Yesterday, I held a Westminster Hall debate on the subject of remuneration for artists for online play and streaming. It is important to state that this is not just an issue for the big well-known names. This is an issue for songwriters, producers and others who put work into a song. They rely on the revenue that comes from plays far more than someone who has a profile. I was pleased that colleagues from my own party, the Labour party, the Scottish National party and the Democratic Unionist party all came to take part in a productive discussion about what remains a relatively new policy area, over which we will soon have significantly more power as the UK exits the EU.
Recently, I spoke with one songwriter who had seen the princely sum of less than £6 in revenue from some 3.2 million plays of his song on YouTube. It is therefore not hard to imagine the despair of someone who sees their life’s work available for free on the internet, with little or no prospect of financial reward.
At this point, I want to commend BBC radio, which has done so much not only to give new artists exposure but to ensure they are paid for airplay. The BBC takes risks on new artists, providing exposure for the music of new and emerging artists before release, helping them to drive record sales and build their profile. The BBC also plays a vital role in the development and promotion of UK music both culturally and economically. What it does for unsigned acts, with its “Introducing” initiative, is amazingly successful. It is not just Radio 1; Radio 2 hosts an unrivalled range of specialist programming, helping audiences to discover new music and helping to break new British artists in specialist genres. A bit more of this spirit of nurturing creative talent across the industry as a priority would be welcome.
The British Phonographic Industry reports that in 2015 there was more revenue raised from the 2.1 million vinyl LP sales by British artists than the 27 billion music video streams on YouTube and similar platforms. This discussion is not about shutting down technologies; it is about striking the right balance. To me, it is clear we have not yet done so. As the well-known manager, Brian Message, said:
“The advent of the digital era introduced an opportunity for those involved in the music business to pull together for the economic benefit of all stakeholders. To our collective detriment, this did not come to pass.”
I would welcome all contributions from colleagues to ongoing discussions in the all-party group on where the right balance will lie and to pick up more of the themes we discussed yesterday morning in Westminster Hall. We need additional support, in particular from local authorities, to ensure we have the infrastructure to produce great music here in the UK. There is an issue around business rates being levied on festivals, sometimes retrospectively. That could have a huge detrimental impact on the festival industry right across the country.
The studios that can accommodate the orchestras needed to record film soundtracks are very rare. I believe we have only two here in London. I am sure the Minister will correct me if that is not accurate. That is minimum capacity; such must often be booked on short notice. If we lose that capability, that kind of recording will be taken elsewhere, and the work will not be available for British musicians.
Finally, we must remember that to make successful financially viable careers and to be ambassadors for Britain and bring fans here as our tourists, our artists need the ability to be successful abroad, particularly in the States. To be globally successful, they really need to break the American market, but the current visa system for UK musicians wishing to perform there is complex to the point of being unworkable. It costs hundreds of thousands or thousands of pounds and requires expensive overnight visits for interviews with officials. The equivalent system for foreign musicians to come here and perform in the UK entails only a small fraction of the cost.
I know Ministers have heard from me before on this subject, but I reiterate the point that support does not always mean Government spending. In this area, musicians could really use the support of colleagues right across the House, but particularly of those on the Government Front Bench in the Foreign Office as well as in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, to try to simplify this process. A small but vitally few helpful steps in the first instance would involve convincing the US immigration service to establish a dedicated liaison team for the music industry which could provide relevant advice and answers for artists, provide timed appointments for visas so that artists could avoid expensive overnight stays in London or Belfast, and clarify the position on ESTA waivers and communicate it clearly to all border forces to avoid inconsistent application.
Our creative industries are making huge contributions. I am pleased with the work our all-party group has done on identifying where support is most needed thus far. I would now warmly welcome the engagement of all colleagues and Ministers to help put that into practice so that our music industry can continue to inspire the creativity of our young people, the interest of our music fans and the imagination of the world.
Frankly, in any discussion of the creative industries, it is essential to begin by reminding ourselves of the deep complexity and real significance of the activities that this topic covers. Yes, the creative industries include large enterprises in areas such as film-making, computer games, fashion and publishing, and they have many thousands of employees and trade globally. And yes, the creative industries involve countless numbers of individuals and groups who are active in fields such as art, music, dance, poetry and many other things. In addition, however, there are those who support the creative industries through their contribution as teachers, curators of galleries, event organisers and other support roles. All of that adds up to the colourful, diverse and beautiful tapestry that makes our lives so enriched. I am sure that everyone in the House is wholly thankful for the wonderful contribution that those people make to our lives.
It has been estimated that the creative industries employ 1.9 million people in the UK as a whole, and 174,000 of those are in Scotland. Believe it or not, the creative industries are worth more than £9 million pounds an hour to the UK economy and this is the fastest growing sector in the UK. Yet it is not sufficient for us as legislators and policy makers to view the creative industries purely in economic terms. The key message is that the health and vitality of the creative industries should be an issue that is of crucial significance to this House.
Where better, of course, to reflect upon this than in my own constituency of Dundee—quelle surprise!—which has a long and distinguished history in leading the creative industries. Within the University of Dundee, for example, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, first established in the 19th century, is now one of the leading art schools in the UK. This creative hub is now the centre of a thriving network of studios, artists, designers and architects and has been instrumental in supporting the development of the Dundee Contemporary Arts centre, which opened at the end of the last millennium.
As part of the current £1 billion regeneration of our waterfront, Dundee was chosen, out of all other cities in the UK, to build the new Victoria and Albert design museum, which will be completed in two years’ time. I would welcome all Members visiting us. The Dundee repertory theatre is home to both Scotland’s only full-time company of actors and the Scottish dance theatre. Dundee is also well known as the home of many iconic and best-selling children’s comics, such as The Beano, The Dandy, the Judy and the Jackie, which is now a west end musical. I recommend all Members to see it at their earliest opportunity. If they visit Dundee today, they will find an iconic trail of 55 sculptures of one of our famous comic characters—Oor Wullie. After all, he is Oor Wullie, Your Wullie and A’body’s Wullie!
In 2014, Dundee was the first UK city to win the UNESCO City of Design award.
I must apologise to the House. My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Ma and Pa Broon would be disgusted with me for forgetting to mention them. “The Broons Annual” is a fantastic Christmas present.
Believe it or not, in addition to all that, there is more. With the assistance of investment and facilities at Abertay University, Dundee’s creative tradition has found a new outlet. The city is now an internationally renowned centre for video game development, and the birthplace of some of the biggest names in game history. Abertay offered the first computer games degree in the world, in 1997. That bold move was subsequently copied by higher education institutions around the world, and helped to cement Dundee’s reputation as a centre of excellence for video games.
Let me give a few examples. In the 1990s, the Dundee company DMA Design created the game “Lemmings”, which sold over 50 million copies on multiple formats. It also developed “Grand Theft Auto”, which today is the biggest selling game in the world. I urge you to get your hands on a copy as soon as possible, Mr Deputy Speaker. Most recently, Chris Van Der Kuyl’s 4J Studios developed the global gaming sensation “Minecraft”. There are now more than 100 video games companies based in Dundee, and I am pleased to say that the number is growing rapidly.
As we heard earlier from the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Chris White)—he and I co-chair the all-party parliamentary group on video games—the video games industry is vital to the UK economy. As a whole, games companies generate high-quality, high-productivity jobs. The UK boasts the highest number of mobile games jobs in the EU, with 5,000 full-time employees, and 64% of all registered games companies in the UK have been incorporated in the last five years alone.
These are just some of the examples of industries and businesses that give Dundee its creative pulse, and are reflected in many other areas of Scotland and the rest of the UK. So how do we support these activities that are so important both to our individual wellbeing and to economic prosperity? Artists, designers, musicians and games programmers are not merely creative individuals; they also need to be entrepreneurs. Like other small businesses and start-ups, they need advice, information, and access to funding and financial support.
In Scotland, we have a more culturally ambitious Government than ever before. Set up by the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland promotes enjoyment of the arts, and helps to identify and develop talent. It also chairs Scotland’s Creative Industries Partnership, in which public agencies work together to share intelligence and research on the creative industries, co-ordinate opportunities, and clarify and signpost agency support. However, only some aspects of creative industries are devolved to Scotland.
In January this year, the Scottish Affairs Committee, on which I have the privilege to serve along with two of my colleagues who are present—very fine colleagues indeed—published a report on the creative industries in Scotland. It identified three key issues: tax incentives, broadcasting, and links with the EU.
A number of tax reliefs are available to the creative industries. There are film, animation, television, video games and theatre reliefs. They allow qualifying companies to claim a deduction when calculating their taxable profits, and they are very valuable to the creative industries as a whole. However, we found that they had been of limited use to the creative industries in Scotland, partly owing to the smaller scale of most creative enterprises in Scotland and partly because tax reliefs do not incentivise the locating of production outside existing industry hubs, which are predominantly London-based.
Our report made a number of specific recommendations for enhancing the responsiveness of tax relief regulations to the specific needs of the creative industries in Scotland. I urge the Minister, and his colleagues in the Treasury, to treat this as a matter of the utmost priority, and to consider the possibility that the most effective means of resolving these issues would be to devolve responsibility for tax reliefs for creative industries to the Scottish Government.
Public service broadcasting, in the form of the activities of the BBC, represents a crucial driver of the creative industries in Scotland, as well as representing a central pillar of our cultural life. There is widespread dissatisfaction with the output of BBC Scotland. There is also a striking economic imbalance, with licence-fee income of over £320 million generated in Scotland, but a BBC Scotland budget of less than £200 million.
The BBC has been slow to respond to these issues and has been less than transparent in its decision-making process around them. Within the past few days, a report from the inquiry “A Future for Public Service Television”, chaired by Lord David Puttnam, has been published. It recommends that the only effective solution to the growing mismatch between the needs and aspirations of the Scottish people in respect of public service broadcasting and their increasing frustration with the BBC is to devolve an appropriate proportion of the overall BBC budget to Scotland, and allow BBC Scotland to commission programmes and design schedules as it sees fit. While acknowledging the independence of the BBC from Government, I urge the Minister to express clear and unequivocal support for this proposal, which has the potential to allow Scotland to develop as a hub for high-quality television and film output and contribute to an expansion of employment in this field. I share Lord Puttnam’s view that little in the BBC reflects
“the current constitutional settlement with Scotland.”
The recent Scottish Affairs Committee report devoted little attention to the EU dimension of creative industries because, other than in areas of intellectual property, the individuals and organisations that we consulted were largely satisfied with the opportunities and benefits to the creative industries that flowed from EU membership. However, all this has changed due to the fear and uncertainty created by this Government in their misguided EU referendum. This is a troubling situation. Many aspects of the creative industries in Scotland are embedded in our broader cultural European tradition, which requires ongoing collaboration with colleagues in other countries. At the very least, this situation requires that the creative industries should have full and active representation in future negotiations with the EU, and that the particular needs of the creative industries in Scotland should be specifically championed through the presence of members of the Scottish Government.
Having talked briefly about the issues and challenges facing the creative industries in Scotland, I would like to sum up by making one final point. Scotland is undoubtedly an outward-looking, internationalist and progressive society—a “mongrel nation” where all Jock Tamson’s bairns reside—yet it is also distinctive and different, and demands to be heard. However, cultural life, and the funding decisions that go with it, are still dominated by London, stifling Scotland’s creative industries as a result. This is not a zero-sum game, however. Successful broadcasting, film-making, computer games and festivals in Scotland reach out to an international market, and do not diminish the significance of London and Manchester as global centres of creative endeavour. In this, we can all be winners.
I congratulate the hon. Member for Sunderland Central (Julie Elliott) on initiating this debate. My goodness, she has chosen an excellent time to do so, because creative industries throughout the United Kingdom are doing extremely well. Only three weeks ago, I was in Scotland, ostensibly going to Edinburgh and Balmoral, but because my sat-nav went wrong I practically toured the whole of Scotland, and it looked pretty good to me. I have a daughter who performed at the Edinburgh festival, so I am bit biased. It is wonderful. The creative industries in London are also doing extremely well.
Before going on to the main part of my speech about Southend-on-Sea being the alternative city of culture, I want to remind the House that the United Kingdom is a global leader in creative industries, which promote everything that is great about this country and generate £8.8 million an hour—absolutely amazing. The United Kingdom’s success in this field is ranked at No. 2 in the 2016 Soft Power rankings and third in the 2015 Anholt-GfK Roper nation brands index, which records the value of the positive perceptions that consumers worldwide have of individual countries. May I say how good it is to see a star of MP4, the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart), in the Chamber this afternoon? Members of Parliament really do have an interest in this subject.
Southend, of course, is no exception to the United Kingdom’s success in the creative industries. The upcoming Southend alternative city of culture next year will exemplify the United Kingdom’s strengths in media, music and the arts. It can already be seen that Southend has a consistent record of exhibiting new, forward-thinking arts and cultural projects. NetPark in Southend is the first digital art park in the world. I am delighted that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport visited the park at the beginning of the year. It was developed by a wonderful arts organisation called Metal and transformed empty or derelict spaces into vibrant cultural community hubs. It is a new visitor attraction for Southend and presented a collection of specially commissioned digital artworks and stories at Chalkwell park. All the works are experienced through a smart device, such as an iPad, an iPhone or an Android device. The inaugural collection has five artworks created by artists following an open-call selection process and five site-specific stories created by Southend school pupils working with writers and illustrators. In addition, the project includes an on-site digital education centre, the Metal Art School, equipped with both hardware and software, enabling ongoing R and D by artists and a range of digital creative learning in the curriculum.
Other projects by Metal in Southend include the Thames estuary biennial festival, the aim of which is to celebrate the outstanding cultural contribution of the 40-mile stretch of the iconic Thames estuary. Aren’t we Members lucky to be here in this wonderful place, enjoying all that the beautiful River Thames can offer? Working with partners on both the north and south banks, the festival will occur biennially, with the first event due to take place in September this year. It will promote the planned new museum of the Thames estuary on the banks of the estuary in Southend, where—similar to Leicester—we found a Saxon buried beneath one of our parks.
Southend’s contribution to the creative industries shows why the UK is an innovation-driven economy. We are renowned for breaking convention and being bold and daring in our creative industries. Yet we always do it with professionalism, style and swagger, and there are plenty of talented groups in Southend that display those qualities. The Southend Festival Chorus, the Eastwood Chorale, the Leigh Orpheus Male Voice Choir, of which I am a patron and which is the biggest male voice choir in the country, the South Essex Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Purple Goat Theatre group and the team behind the Southend Book and Arts fair provide just a snapshot of Southend’s flourishing creative industries. The launch of the alternative city of culture happens in Southend this Sunday and somewhere in the House of Commons next week. What a good thing it is to be able to have such wonderful events in the Jubilee Room, showing off the creative talents of all parts of the United Kingdom.
Hull will be the city of culture next year and has arranged four main events in line with the seasons. Southend will have one specific theme each month, so it will be interesting to see how both parts of the country run their events. The monthly themes include music, the arts, fashion, media, culture, food, architecture, and military events. Creative groups will play their part in how the wider world perceives the UK as a thriving cultural nation.
We have touched on the referendum a little bit—Scotland was not too happy with it—but I want us to be positive about the outcome. I hope that the House can be united in the belief that creative industries should not be daunted by the result. The UK’s creative industries are still open for business, and there are many financial incentives to investing in the UK’s creative sector, including tax reliefs that allow film productions to access a rebate of up to 25% of qualifying expenditure. Southend has high-end locations for films, such as the British gangster film “Essex Boys” and the James Bond film “Goldfinger”, which featured the airport. Southend has also been used for popular music videos by artists including Oasis, Morrissey and George Michael. Long may Southend continue to be a location where great films, dramas and soap operas are shot—I would be happy to appear in any of them.
Even in the post-Brexit world in which we now find ourselves, creative industries will continue to thrive and take advantage of new opportunities to do business across the world. Those who are uncertain about the regulation of creative industries following our decision to leave the European Union should be reassured—the excellent Minister will do his best to reassure the House—by the potential for the UK’s creative industries, especially those in Southend, to lead post-Brexit economic growth. I welcome the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport’s comment that the success of the UK’s creative industries
“is built upon the extraordinary talent which exists in this country, an amazing cultural heritage, the English language”—
Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish—
“and a tax system designed to support and encourage growth in the creative sector.”
Given that this country is gifted with being creative and has a rich cultural heritage, we can have confidence that there can and will be a bright future for the UK’s creative industries. The Southend alternative city of culture 2017 should be a benchmark for showing why it is so important for this Government and any Government to invest and provide the necessary incentives for creative industries to thrive and prosper.
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland Central (Julie Elliott) on leading this debate. She has, however, made me feel guilty, as she made such an excellent case for Sunderland’s bid to be capital of culture 2021. Bristol also wants that title—I will have to put in for an Adjournment debate at some point.
Today, I want to focus on the impact leaving the EU could have on our creative industries and on what the Minister will do to deliver on his promise to give the arts a “voice in Brexit Britain”. A Creative Industries Federation survey found that a staggering 96% of its members voted to stay in the EU, with 84% saying that EU membership was important to the future of their organisation. Before the vote, the prospect of leaving the EU was variously described as a “nightmare”, “artistic isolation” and a “huge creative step backwards” by arts leaders. A joint letter from 250 actors, artists, musicians and writers praising EU funding and collaboration in the run-up to the referendum was dismissed by the Brexit camp as the concerns of “luvvies”. I know that if the Minister was in his place—he will return—he would not dismiss the luvvies so lightly. I am sure he would agree that it is vital that issues such as access to markets, freedom of movement, intellectual property protection and EU funding for the creative sector are considered during the Brexit negotiations.
Before I go into detail, I want to namecheck Laura Snapes for an excellent article on Pitchfork.com, which has been the source for quite a bit of my material and quotes. On access to EU markets, the value of services exported by the UK creative industries in 2014 was nearly £20 billion, an increase of nearly 11% from the previous year. The EU is, at 56%, our largest export market for that sector. Currently, we can trade tariff-free and barrier-free across 28 countries; we have unrestricted access to 560 million potential customers. Before we entered the Common Market, there were tariffs: some form of import duty for us and export duty if we wanted to send products over to Europe. Let me give just one example. There has been a bit of a vinyl revival recently, and the majority of the vinyl we buy is made in plants in mainland Europe. The cost could now escalate, both at the point of manufacture and sale. Small and independent businesses have real concerns about this, because small margins make a huge difference to their survival.
I know people on the leave side have argued that leaving the EU would be a spur to developing better cultural and economic links with Commonwealth nations and emerging economies. But as Michael McClatchey, co-founder of Moshi Moshi Records, says:
“As a nation, switching our focus from trading with Europe to trading with Brazil, China, and India doesn't really work for the music industry because we’re making very small inroads there, and I'm skeptical about how much we can enter these markets when they have such a different pop market and a strong historic music identity of their own”.
Copyright and intellectual property issues are incredibly important to the sector. There have been at least three European directives protecting the IP rights of artists and ensuring they receive remuneration for their work. Indeed, we discussed some of this in yesterday’s Westminster Hall debate. The EU’s copyright regime has been crucial in ensuring we have a creative industry at all. With the well-known fervour of Brexiteers for any opportunity to slash so-called red-tape, there are real worries that the life of artists will get worse without the copyright protections the EU provides.
I know that many in the industry have felt the EU is much more willing and able than the UK to take on the big technology companies, which have much less respect for copyright. Gregor Pryor, co-chair of Entertainment and Media Industry Group, says:
“I think some countries in Europe are perceived by rights holders as being more benevolent towards them. France is the best example because France holds intellectual property in such high regard, and from a legal perspective, tends to give broader rights to creators. I think it’s fair to say that the UK government hasn’t been as warm or receptive as some of the other governments in other European countries. I think the European Commission has been far more sympathetic to rights-holders than the UK government would be.”
Free movement is a massive concern. There is no doubt that free movement across mainland Europe has made touring easier and less expensive for British artists and musicians. Access to locations and mobility have also benefited our thriving film and TV industries. Musicians are really worried that Brexit could mean individual visas to enter each EU country, and the reintroduction of the carnet, a document detailing every single piece of equipment on deck to prevent the import or exports of products without paying VAT. We know that that would create a real barrier for musicians and other artists. The hon. Member for Selby and Ainsty (Nigel Adams) mentioned the horrible difficulties that musicians encounter when they are touring the US—he has met a good friend of mine to discuss that matter. Some have to cancel gigs and even whole tours because visas are not processed in time, resulting in considerable financial losses.
Colin Roberts of Big Life Management says:
“Getting visas is an absolute minefield and it costs a lot of money, and it’s the reason that a lot of people don’t get to tour America…A large part of the PRS fund goes towards helping bands get to America. Are we going to be at a point where they’ll have to start a fund to get people into Europe?”
That is a good question. If it starts getting more difficult to export things that the UK is good at, what additional investment will be needed to help showcase British bands abroad in future? Roberts goes on to say that
“not only would our acts struggle—and it’s the small acts that would really struggle—but we would miss out on a hell of a lot of interesting artists that potentially wouldn’t be able to come to the UK either.”
Fabien Miclet is the co-ordinator of Liveurope, which is EU-funded and provides a music platform for new European talent, getting them support slots at bigger shows. He says:
“The UK is the beating heart of the European music scene—you can’t work on a European music project without the UK...Very often playing the UK is the step that allows small or young bands to get big.”
Will the UK still be part of programmes such as Liveurope if we leave the EU? Paul Reed, from the Association of Independent Festivals, warns that we could also see a reduction in music tourism, which in 2014 generated more than £3 billion for the UK economy.
Cross-border creative collaboration and the movement of talent across the EU are critical to the UK’s role as a creative hub. Many performers who are resident in the UK but nationals of other European countries are deeply concerned about their future here. Areas with especially high proportions of EU and international workers include dance—ballet and contemporary—opera, circus and the audio and music industry, which includes video games. Brexit could cause real problems for Sadler’s Wells and for our orchestras. I know that we debated that yesterday, but I reaffirm the need for real reassurance from the Government for EU nationals currently living and working in the creative sector that they should be allowed to remain here in the UK. Obviously, that works both ways, with many UK nationals working in the creative industries and arts in other EU countries. Will Brexit mean that they have to come home?
There is also considerable uncertainty in the sector about how the UK will compensate for loss of access to EU funding. I could go into quite a lot of detail on that, but I will give just one example. The Creative Europe fund has supported 228 UK cultural and creative organisations and audio-visual companies and the cinema distribution of 84 UK films in other European countries with grants totalling €40 million. If the UK leaves the EU, does the Minister share the concern of many that, in all likelihood, this funding will no longer be available to the UK? Finally, many of us have been really upset about what the vote on 23 June says about Britain to the rest of Europe and the world. I hope that we can find a way through the next few years that shows that we have not pulled up the drawbridge. Let me again quote Fabien Miclet from Liveurope. He says:
“We try to encourage a positive feeling about Europe. Music, culture, traveling, discovering: that’s what makes us Europeans. People don’t really get enthusiastic about the common agricultural policy or the directive on car tyres. What people, especially the younger generations, need today is to share something simple and positive together. Live music can do this.”
Will the Minister say today which civil servant from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will be appointed to the new EU unit co-ordinated by the Cabinet Office, when will he or she join negotiations and on which issues will they lead? Will he tell us what organisational arrangements DCMS is putting in place for Brexit negotiations and how many officials in the Department are working on preparations? What seems like a complete lack of post-Brexit contingency planning or, indeed, vision is causing considerable uncertainty, and I hope that the Minister today will give some much-needed reassurance.
I also hope that over the long term we will consider what role arts and culture can play in those parts of the UK, particularly highlighted by the referendum result, that do not feel listened to, do not feel part of the UK success story and are not benefiting from the growth of these high-skill sectors. Arts, culture and creativity can play a huge role in regeneration and are important to identity—just look at a cities such as Manchester, Liverpool or Bristol. This is about identity not just as a place, but as a person: feeling part of things, feeling proud of something and people feeling good about themselves as a result. So I hope that we can negotiate the Brexit minefield and emerge with an even more positive story to tell.
I congratulate the Members who secured the debate, particularly my hon. Friends the Members for Dundee West (Chris Law) and for Edinburgh West (Michelle Thomson). As other Members have said, it has come at quite a timely moment, given the other debates that have taken place in Westminster Hall this week and the fact that a number of the industry bodies have been holding their annual receptions on the Terrace, in the function rooms or elsewhere.
On Monday, the Creative Industries Council held a reception in the Members’ Dining Room. Last night, my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee West and several other Members here today were in the National Liberal Club for the UK interactive entertainment reception—the National Liberal Club perhaps being slightly less interactive surroundings than the video games that were on display. Of course, as other Members have said, the festival season is well under way across the country.
I have a large number of personal and constituency interests that I will probably cover in my speech. I want to look at the vast scope of what we mean by the creative industries. I want to look particularly at how they play out in my constituency and the wider city of Glasgow and look at some of the policy challenges and opportunities, which have been covered in quite a bit of detail. By definition, creative industries are forever changing and renewing themselves and adapting and evolving. It is important to consider the impact of the traditional areas—music, art, writing and dance and so on—but as a number of Members have said, online and digital forums are growing in importance for accessing creativity and as a source of creativity.
My hon. Friend the Member for Dundee West has spoken about the huge importance of the computer gaming industry. The number of games companies operating in Scotland has increased by 600% in the past five years. Yesterday, at the UK reception, I was fascinated to learn more about the increasing importance of what some people call e-sports, which were just called computer games in my day. Essentially, the industry covers professional or competitive computer gaming.
In July, the Scottish exhibition and conference centre in Glasgow will welcome the Resonate festival, when thousands of people from across Scotland and, indeed, Europe and probably the world will come together to watch other people—leaders in their fields and really talented people who have invested an awful lot of time in this—demonstrating their skills in a whole range of different e-sports or interactive computer games. My hon. Friend mentioned “Lemmings”. Of course, we do not need to pay money to watch other people play the computer game, “Lemmings”, when we can we watch a live action version taking place in front of us over there on the Labour Benches, but I recognise that this is supposed to be a consensual debate, so I will not go too far down that line.
E-sports are attracting more than 256 million unique viewers a year. By 2018, that figures is expected to overtake the number of people who watch the US national football league, which is the largest watched sport or entertainment in the world.
If I can be creative with the definition of creative industries, I want to make a pitch for Scotland’s No. 1 craft product—the water of life, uisce beatha—because the new and experimental distillers that we see coming on line, especially those who are producing gin, are involved in a unique and creative process. Glasgow has its own distiller company, and Makar gin is named after the Scots word for a creator or poet, so I thought that that was worth noting as well.
Glasgow is, as I mentioned in my maiden speech, the home and the focus of so many of these industries. Now, there is nothing in Glasgow quite on the scale of the Edinburgh international festival, but it has benefited over the years from a range of different designations. In that respect, I wish all the cities bidding for the title of city of culture the very best, because when Glasgow became the European capital of culture in 1990, it began something of a cultural renaissance, the benefits of which are still being felt today. The roots of that can be traced to the empire exhibition in 1938 and the garden festival in 1988, but we also went on to be the city of architecture and design in 1999, and we were designated as a UNESCO city of music in 2008—one of only nine in the world.
The city is a real musical melting pot. It has produced countless artists. We should not read out lists in the House, and that is just as well, because I could use up the rest of my time simply reeling off the names of the bands that have formed in Glasgow or emerged directly from the Glasgow music scene. It has also provided the stage, as has been said, that has allowed bands to break out into the Scottish, the UK and the wider European scenes.
King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut is in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow Central (Alison Thewliss), who also has the Hydro—
My hon. Friend could perhaps intervene and list some of the venues in her constituency. However, the Canadian band the Barenaked Ladies, for example, had their break in King Tut’s, and I saw my brother-in-law’s band, Tallahassee Falls, there just a few weeks ago.
In Glasgow North, we have the likes of Cottiers, the Oran Mor and the Kelvingrove bandstand—my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow Central has most of the Kelvingrove Park, but I have the bandstand, and I am looking forward to seeing Tom Jones there in a few weeks’ time. Cottiers has just finished its excellent dance and chamber projects, and I was delighted to get a little light relief by going to one of the performances there just before the EU referendum.
Glasgow is also home to the annual Celtic Connections festival, which has global brand recognition now. It is a real contributor to some of the statistics mentioned earlier in UK Music’s “Wish You Were Here” report. Some 1.4 million people attended music events in Glasgow in 2015, with 450,000 tourists generating £105 million and sustaining more than 1,000 jobs in the city.
Next Monday and Tuesday, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee is visiting Glasgow to take evidence for our forthcoming culture inquiry, which will include the creative industries. Clearly, copyright is very important in this day and age to sustain creativity—UK Music backs the music industry, and on the literary side there is the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman is going to talk about a rival to the Edinburgh festival, but does he agree that it is really important in terms of sustaining creativity and the roots of our creative industries, that the many people who do not have great commercial backing have protection from unfair contract terms, so that they can benefit from the fruits of their work? Does he see a role for the Government in improving that situation?
Those are very fair points, and the hon. Member for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy) made similar points about the importance of European regulation. In terms of online and digital expansion—I am aware there was a debate about some of this in Westminster Hall—these are all issues that are being challenged. The hon. Gentleman’s Committee is welcome to visit Glasgow, and if it would like such some suggestions of where they can sample the cultural scene or indeed some of the craft products I mentioned earlier, we would be happy to provide some.
There are also things that we as individual parliamentarians can do. In my office, I make space on the wall for a rotating display of works by local artists. In the past year, I have had Chris Stephens—not the one who represents Glasgow South West, but a street artist and designer from Nautilus Inkworks; Michelle Campbell, who does geometric renderings; Andy Peutherer, who does landscapes; Frances Corr, who depicts everyday items; and John Martin, who captures characters, including our current and former First Ministers. There is therefore a range of ways in which we can sport a creative industries.
It is important as well that local authorities do the same. This year, the West End Festival in Glasgow was sadly curtailed because of a lack of funding and support, and the famous parade that goes down the Byers Road was unable to take place. However, I was pleased that the Scottish Government agreed that an area of land in my constituency, Kelvin meadow and the Children’s wood, should not be designated for housing because one Member made a point about its importance for children and young people. This is a space where they can have creative and wild play. It is very important that we protect those open spaces, especially in urban areas, so that young people can nurture their creative talent.
There is also responsibility for the devolved Governments in supporting education and tackling the skills gap, as was mentioned earlier. The Scottish Government are also putting money into a film studio in Scotland.
The greatest unknown is Brexit, which many Members have touched on. I agree wholeheartedly with almost every word that the hon. Member for Bristol East said, and so do not feel the need to repeat it.
Does my hon. Friend agree that for specialist institutions in Glasgow, such as the Glasgow School of Art and the Royal Conservatoire, there is a great deal of risk for their students from Brexit? At the moment, the Conservatoire offers a unique melting pot of trad, jazz and classical, with pipers playing alongside ballerinas—there are all kinds of things in the mix. However, all that is under threat if the Conservatoire can no longer be the international institution that it would like to be.
That is absolutely correct. The artistic and musical communities are very concerned about the impact that Brexit will have, especially on the free movement of people and their ability to travel to festivals, either as artists or participants.
I am aware that other Members are very keen to speak and so will conclude. It is hugely important to nurture future generations, especially in the context of the Brexit result. We have a duty to open and expand our cultural horizons, and I hope that today’s debate goes some way towards that.
I congratulate the Members involved on bringing this very important debate to the House. I want to highlight the creative industries for which the city of Edinburgh, the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, is renowned: writing and publishing.
Books might be changing as the electronic world takes over, but one thing will remain constant: the creation of new works will always need writers. However, writing is a less viable occupation now, with average incomes down to about £11,000 in 2014. We can romanticise the image of the artist in the garret reheating gruel—or porridge—for sustenance, but that is no way for someone to live in the 21st century, and we should be concerned.
The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society highlights the economic contribution of writers. In 2014, it was £84 billion of gross value added, which is a year-on-year increase of 8.9%. The Publishers Association tells me that published material earned £4.4 billion last year, three quarters of that in books, and boosted the balance of payments, with 43% of publishers’ sales being exports. Those are serious economic benefits. Last year, 254 million books were exported; a stack 13,000 miles high. If laid down with their spines up, those books would go more than halfway round the world. There are also online journals, e-books and other digital content. Where would the games industry be without talented storytellers? We must support our writers and publishers; together they make a massive economic contribution.
There is another, even more important reason to support them: we need writers. We need artists of all trades, because art is what makes life, but writers are special. Without them there would be no new books, plays, short stories or poetry. There would be no great speeches for party leaders, no new films at the cinema and no new dramas on television. “Coronation Street”, “Eastenders” and “River City” would judder to a halt, and time would be up for “Dr Who” and “Outlander”—
Indeed. Both those shows make welcome contributions to the local economy and tourism, which would be lost.
Writers fill the space around us with art. They create our environment and enhance our lives. They should at least get the chance of earning a living. Some make it big, such as Irvine Welsh, who hails from my constituency and who has had substantial success. He did it the hard way, learning his trade while working other jobs. He was helped by Kevin Williamson, who still lives in Leith and who was a one-man dynamo in the early 1990s. Williamson’s publishing efforts changed the face of Scottish literature. Without him, we might not have had Welsh, Laura Hird, Alan Warner or Toni Davidson. Rebel Inc. altered the direction of Scottish writing, and Kevin Williamson’s contribution should be marked.
Irvine Welsh is an exception, however. Most writers make only a very modest income from their trade. Writers are vital, but we do not support them enough. As the hon. Member for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy) has helpfully mentioned, we have created a less helpful environment for the creative industries by voting to leave the EU. This was not discussed during the campaigns, but as is the case for other industries, cutting the creative industries off from a potential workforce and potential clients must be damaging, and, as has been mentioned, those are not the only things that will be lost. For example, Creative Edinburgh, in my constituency, is engaged in a two-year project funded by the European Commission partnering creative hubs around Europe with the European Business Network to promote and support the creative economy. That two-year project may be safe from the storms of Brexit, but what will replace such projects in the little Britain of the future?
My constituency is full of extraordinarily talented people, such as novelist Val McDermid, artists Ruth Nicol and Joyce Gunn Cairns, the creatives behind LeithLate and Citizen Curator, people in successful software, digital and advertising companies and more than 11,000 people employed in design. The computer gaming industry, which was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee West (Chris Law) and which is already a major part of the Dundee economy, is becoming a serious and growing part of Edinburgh’s economy. These creative hubs attract people from all over these islands and from abroad.
Creative businesses flourish in my constituency: independent art galleries, shops such as Flux that sell handmade and unique products, and Kalypso Collective working in the fields of conceptual art, scenography and visual art. Will their viability survive Brexit? When the melting pot, which so many Members have referred to, cools and the exchange of ideas slows, creativity is stunted and output shrinks. Artistic viability becomes strained and economic benefits are reduced and perhaps extinguished. We need to stimulate the creative industries, and I look forward to hearing the Minister’s comments about how exactly the Government propose to do that in the current situation.
The Chancellor could start, for example, with greater and better-targeted tax breaks for the creative industry. As my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee West mentioned, devolving control of those to Scotland would be extremely helpful. Then the Chancellor could loosen the austerity noose that is strangling public services, to see whether the support that central and local government offered the arts could be restored.
Since we are heading down the EU exit ramp, we must secure the flow of people who make our creative industries viable. We need immigration policies that will bring people here and let them study, work and make their homes here. We need easier immigration, and more of it. The creative industries need more Government support for exports and help to open markets and guarantee payments. If the arms exporters can get it, why not creatives? We need creatives to be high up the agenda on overseas missions, with Government selling the ideas and products. These creatives are making a damn fine fist of it, and it is about time they got much more recognition and assistance.
I congratulate the hon. Members who obtained this important debate. I would like to address the role of the university sector in the creative industries. In doing so, I am indebted for their assistance to Universities Scotland and, in particular, to Edinburgh Napier University, which is situated in my constituency.
Scotland has always been a creative nation, and Scotland’s universities have always been at the heart of that creativity. Scottish creativity, as we have heard this afternoon, punches far above its weight on the global stage. World-leading talent has emerged from Glasgow School of Art, including Turner prize winners such as Duncan Campbell. Acclaimed stars of stage and screen, including Alan Cumming, David Tennant and James McAvoy, have all studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. We are very proud in Scotland of the literary success of novelists such as Ian Rankin, a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, which is my own alma mater. We are also proud of Scotland’s previous makar—that is our poet laureate—Liz Lochhead, who was a writer in residence at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design and the University of Glasgow.
Several of my hon. Friends have mentioned the video game “Lemmings”, invented by a Scottish graduate, Mike Dailly, which first put the great city of Dundee on the map for computer games. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow North (Patrick Grady) was a little unkind in suggesting that members of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition could presently be described as lemmings; lemmings put me more in mind of Brexiteers, and it was very amusing to watch some of them attempt to scrabble back up the cliff face in the debate on EU nationals yesterday. I also want to mention Scottish fashion graduate Rachael Barrett, whose designs were chosen and worn by Lady Gaga.
Edinburgh Napier University in my constituency prepares graduates for employment in a significant number of the creative industries, through undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and programmes in its school of arts and creative industries, its school of computing and its business school. It engages proactively with industry and professional bodies through knowledge exchange activities, continuing professional development programmes and provision of advice and support. In particular, it hosts Screen Academy Scotland, a joint venture with the University of Edinburgh that is recognised as a centre of excellence in film practice and has celebrated 10 years of its prestigious status as one of just three film academies in the UK accredited by Creative Skillset.
I intervene as a fellow graduate of the University of Edinburgh. Does the hon. and learned Lady think there is something in the water in Edinburgh that has helped create those creative industries, or is it just the hard work of the university, which has concentrated on the creative industries and achieved so much for them?
Edinburgh of course now hosts more than one university. Its oldest university is our joint alma mater, but it also has Napier University in my constituency, which I have just been talking about, and Heriot-Watt University. Possibly what the hon. Gentleman refers to is due to those universities, but it is also very much due to an atmosphere across the education sector in Edinburgh, which fosters interest in music and the arts.
Of course, we are also very privileged to host the greatest international festival anywhere in the world. Growing up in Edinburgh and getting to attend events at the festival and fringe as a wee girl was the sort of opportunity that not all children get. In my constituency, we have tried to ensure that the festival reaches out beyond Edinburgh city centre to the suburbs and housing schemes. That has resulted in some very vibrant arts activity in Wester Hailes, a big housing scheme in my constituency.
Edinburgh Napier is just up the road from Wester Hailes. Many of its students and graduates have achieved considerable success and external recognition, which they have built on to achieve strong careers in the creative industries. Its students’ work features regularly at international film festivals, including Berlin, Venice, Cannes, Beijing, Kolkata and—closer to home—Edinburgh. Graduates of Napier have won awards in journalism and advertising. Its music students have been awarded or shortlisted for national and international prizes, including first prize in the international Jean Sibelius composition competition.
Importantly, Edinburgh Napier offers businesses opportunities to link up with a diverse range of creative students for freelance assignments. That ensures that students develop their skills in a business environment and the businesses themselves benefit from the students’ professional output. The success of Screen Academy Scotland demonstrates how universities can support the continued professional development of those working in the industry. Illustrious graduates of Edinburgh Napier include the film director Lynne Ramsay, the photographers David Eustace and Colin Baxter, and the BBC broadcaster Catriona Shearer, to name just a few.
The creative industries thrive on talent and depend on a well-educated workforce. Universities are a rich source of that talent. Analysis recently published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport showed that last year more than half of jobs in the creative industries—almost 60%—were filled by people with at least a degree or equivalent qualification, compared with 30% of all jobs in the UK.
There is often a view that creative talent is innate, but that is not the case. Talent must be nurtured and developed, and that is what higher education does. Scotland’s universities collaborate directly with creative companies and industry bodies in the design and development of courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level. However, there is a problem with the skills gap, and it is that issue which I would like the Minister to address. Research carried out by Creative Skillset found that 28% of companies in the creative media industries report skills gaps within the existing workforce across the UK, with a slightly higher proportion in Scotland—31%—reporting such skills gaps.
It is interesting to note that only 12% of those studying creative industry-related subjects at postgraduate level in Scotland are from Scotland, compared with the proportion of non-EU postgraduate students studying in Scotland, which is 70%. This means that Scotland needs to retain its creative graduates, regardless of where they are from. We need to encourage people who have come to Scotland to study creative subjects to stay in Scotland after they graduate. These graduates are innovative, enterprising and ambitious, and will contribute not only to the Scottish economy, but more broadly to the social, cultural and economic life and development of Scotland. It is important to ensure, therefore, that the needs of the creative industries and the broader creative and knowledge economy is not lost through the post-study work route.
The UK Government’s immigration policy—specifically, the proposals for tier 2—is the major deterrent to greater flows of talent coming from outside the European Union into Scotland and the UK. I fear that if the Brexit vote is to be implemented, the problem will only get worse, as students coming from the European Union will also be affected.
My hon. and learned Friend is making an excellent case about the visas for students who are studying in Scotland. I was made aware by Glasgow School of Art of a case where an expert in a specific field who was visiting Glasgow on holiday wanted to come in and share his expertise with students at Glasgow School of Art, but the school had to refuse that request because it would have had serious implications for its own visa status. Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that much more flexibility is needed to allow people to come and share their talent and expertise, without the necessity for formal visas in such situations?
I entirely agree. Every country requires some sort of immigration policy, but we need to look at what is of benefit to our country and our economy. Flexibility of visas in that situation is clearly desirable.
The rules surrounding the UK’s current student immigration policy in relation to employment are often prohibitively restrictive for graduates from creative disciplines, because the starting salary threshold is based on average salaries in other sectors, such as accounting and engineering. We all know that graduates in the creative industries, at least in the early stages of their career, will earn considerably less than that. Such graduates tend not to be in full time employment; rather, they freelance. They may work as a barista, a waiter or a waitress and support their portfolio careers with part-time jobs. It is interesting to observe that our major English-speaking competitors—Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand—do not have that minimum earnings threshold.
For a number of years Universities Scotland has been making a positive case for a more competitive post-study work visa for Scotland, because it would be a significant benefit to universities both as employers and as recruiters of students. There is support for a change in immigration policy in Scotland among university principals, staff and students, among business leaders and across all political parties in the Scottish Parliament, including the Conservative and Unionist party.
The Scottish Affairs Committee of this Parliament in its recent report found that current rules for students studying in Scotland to remain in Scotland are too restrictive and are preventing businesses from finding skilled workers. It is clear that in order to support the creative industries in Scotland and beyond, throughout the UK, the Government need to reintroduce post-study work visas. I urge the Minister to address this issue in his summing up today.
It is a great pleasure to be summing up for the Scottish National party in what has been a very fine debate. It feels like we have been on some sort of geographic cultural tour de force, as we have learned about the delights of the many bidding cities for European city of culture, as well as the other cultural delights of many other cities. We are all enriched by learning about some of the great cultural facets of all these different and differing parts of the UK. I, of course, declare my interest as a former recording artist and refer to my entries in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.
I have spoken in practically every single debate on the creative industries in my 15 years in this House. It is always fantastic to come to these debates and just learn and see how many more Members are taking an interest in their creative industries and the things that underpin them, such as intellectual property and some of the fiscal levers we have at our disposal.
I congratulate those who opened the debate; I forgot to mention the hon. Member for Sunderland Central (Julie Elliott). It is worth reminding ourselves how fantastically we do in this country. The UK is the largest cultural economy in the world relative to GDP. We are the largest producer of TV and radio content in Europe. We are the largest producer of recorded music in Europe and the second largest in the world. We have the third largest filmed entertainment market globally. As chair of the all-party group on writers, it was also fantastic for me to hear from my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh North and Leith (Deidre Brock) about her wonderful authors and writers, and it is great to know that we are the largest publishing market in Europe.
The creative industries are growing almost twice as fast as the wider economy. I think it was the Minister who first mentioned, in a tweet, that we are now worth £10 million an hour to the UK economy. Many have subsequently picked up that figure. The creative industries are also a huge employer, and the number of jobs in them increased by 5.5% between 2013 and 2014.
There is incredible growth in our creative sector and its industries, therefore. When so many of our sectors are flatlining, we are practically reindustrialising this nation on the imagination, creativity and talent of the people of this country. What a wonderful way to grow our economy, based on those virtues.
I do not know whether my hon. Friend is aware that the artists studios in Glasgow are so successful that they are having to expand and expand. I visited the Briggait in my constituency. They are planning their expansion because they have filled the space they have, as have Wasp Studios. Does my hon. Friend agree that we need further support from Government for the artists studios in the city?
Absolutely. We are all seeing and experiencing—as we have heard in most of the contributions and interventions today—that every constituency and community now has some form of creative hub, providing highly skilled jobs, giving opportunities to young people, employing people and encouraging them, and culturally enriching their communities. I pay tribute to the wonderful work done in my hon. Friend’s constituency and in those of so many other Members.
This is about much more than the hard economics, important though they are in assessing the contribution the creative industries make. The creative industries provide a conduit which allows for the cultural enrichment of our nation and communities. We are successful in this country primarily because we are fantastically good at producing this stuff. We are also successful because we have managed to provide the conditions that allow talent to develop and grow. I have always said that one of our major responsibilities as legislators and Members of this House is to try to create the conditions that allow the optimum environment for our artists and those who invest in our talent and build our creative industries, so that they can continue to develop, thrive and grow. We have been successful in that, because up to this point we have managed to provide the frameworks that allow our creative industries to grow.
There are certain things that need to be in place in order to have a successful creative industries sector. Some of them are fiscal, and some are at the disposal of this Government. We have already heard about the difference some of the tax reliefs have made to various sectors, particularly computer games, about which my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee West (Chris Law) made such a good point and recognised. When we deploy these things, we get a massive return and a massive hit. Some of the support is resourcing, therefore, such as ensuring that funds are available for what are mainly small and medium-sized enterprises to develop and grow. There is so much more we can do to incentivise our SMEs, to ensure we continue to create that optimal environment for development in these sectors.
Other things are probably a bit more difficult to achieve, and they are what I want to address. I want us to ensure that the artists who are prepared to use their talent are properly rewarded for the work they produce and those who invest in it are properly rewarded for the investment they make. We must strive to make that always the case and to ensure that those who produce this wonderful work, which we see and experience and love so much, are rewarded properly. This is why we need to ensure that the intellectual property rights of those involved in our creative sector are always respected and progressed.
Our creative industries inhabit a part of the economy that is fast changing, developing all the time and always open to technological innovation, and more than anything we are seeing the migration to digitisation in the online environment. That presents probably a bigger challenge to our creative industries than to any other sector of the economy, which is why we must be ever vigilant around the demands and needs of the creative economy and sector. Even though the creative industries are a huge success story—we can see the contribution they make to our economy—many people in music, film and television production, publishing and design still struggle to be rewarded properly for their efforts. We have to design a properly functioning digital market that enables creators and rights holders to secure the full value of their work online.
It has to be said again that the market is being distorted by the tech giants. The likes of Google and YouTube—the gateways to online content—distort the market and make it difficult for artists and those who invest in their talent to be rewarded for their work. Google is a fantastic facility—I am sure we all use it—but it makes such a big impression on the market and makes life so difficult for those in the creative sector. We have to get on top of that. So often, searches on Google and through other big tech companies still direct people towards sites that are either illegal or do not properly reward artists and musicians. That must now stop.
That facilitates the worries about the growing “value gap” between rising creative consumption and decreasing revenues, which undermine the incomes of people in the sector. I think mainly of the streaming sites, on which we had a helpful debate yesterday—several people in this debate spoke then about the remuneration of artists online. We have to look at these issues, and I am sure the Minister took away some valuable points that helped to shape that debate. Someone is growing rich from the creative endeavours of our wonderful artists, but it is not the artists. Parasite companies—little more than hosts with algorithms that store content—are growing rich on the back of the creativity of the people of this country. Somehow we have to re-tilt the balance much more in favour of the artists, creators and inventors—the talent—and those prepared to invest in them.
I have to turn finally to the EU debate. We really enjoyed the remarks from the hon. Member for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy). She was spot on. This is a potential catastrophe for our creative industries. We cannot mince our words: being taken out of the EU would be really serious for our creative sector. We have heard the issues about the single market, about how these wonderful products will be placed properly without further tariffs within the EU, and about the impact on our creative sector and its product placement, but there is also the movement of people. One reason our creative industries are so successful and why London is probably the creative hub not just of Europe but of the whole globe is the fact that it has been able to draw talent from the EU uninhibited by any concerns about visa arrangements. There is a real concern, therefore, about what will happen to the people employed in our creative sector, particularly in cities such as London, and also Edinburgh, which is dependent on talent from overseas.
The biggest innovation at the moment—the one that will make the biggest difference to how we use and access online content—is perhaps the digital single market, but we will not be part of it. The Minister said yesterday that we could somehow—I do not know how—have proxy conversations with France and Germany about it. If we leave the European Union we will be excluded from that and have no say in it whatsoever.
Thankfully, most copyright laws that were designed in Europe have been incorporated into UK law, so we need not concern ourselves too much with the protection of artists, writers and creators as those laws have now been subsumed. However, a massive debate is going on in Europe about innovation and new copyright laws, and we will be excluded from that, which will be of massive detriment to our creative industries.
The hon. Member for Bristol East touched on the issue of what leaving the European Union will do to us psychologically, and where it leaves us culturally. If anything, music, cultural works, and things that we enjoy are about sharing and working communally. We have lost something quite profound in how we talk about ourselves as a nation and how we share all the wonderful culture that we produce. It is as if we have stepped aside and walked away from our partners, and that will have a profound impact and psychological effect on artists up and down the country. I do not know how we recover from that or start to address it, but we can almost sense the depression in our artistic and creative community.
On Tuesday night I hosted a meeting of the all-party group on intellectual property, and all that people were talking about was leaving the EU and the impact and depression that that has introduced into the sector. We must work hard to address that and think about how we can excite the sector. That is down to the Minister, because it will be his job and responsibility. Unlike the Secretary of State, who went against almost 99% of the people he is notionally supposed to represent in the creative industries and who desperately wanted to remain in the European Union, the Minister was on the remain side and he must try to design a way forward for the country. There are a couple of opportunities and ways in which he may be able to do that. For example, with the Digital Economy Bill he must reassure everybody in the sector that he will try to offset some of the difficulties and harm that will be done when we leave the European Union. He cannot do much about immigration, but he can speak to his colleagues about what we can do to secure and retain talent.
The Digital Economy Bill is great, and it honours the commitment made by the Conservatives to ensure universal access to broadband. I am grateful for that, as I am for the inclusion of intellectual property rights that state that online crime will be of the same nature and stature as offline crime. However, we need a big job to ensure that we start to rebuild some of the confidence that has taken such a heavy knock over the past few weeks.
I am sure the Minister saw the fine report on the creative industries in Scotland—my colleagues have referred to it a few times. I am delighted that so much time was spent on the city of Dundee, and to learn what happened there and what underpinned the success of the creative economy. However, I was disappointed by the response—I thought that we might have secured membership of the UK-wide Creative Industries Council, but that has been turned down. I was also disappointed that there was no recognition of how tax reliefs in the creative sector apply across the United Kingdom, and I urge the Minister to consider those issues again.
This has been a fantastic debate, and it is great to see so much interest. I wish everybody well in any competitions that their various cities many be in—such as that for city of culture. It has been fantastic to learn about the wonderful cultural activities taking place. We should keep an interest in this sector as it is important for our economy. We have troubles now, but it is up to us to try to design a way forward. Let us hear what we can do; I look forward to hearing from the Minister.
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland Central (Julie Elliott) on securing this important debate, and on her excellent and interesting speech, which set out a lot of fascinating facts, particularly about her constituency and fine home town of Sunderland. When I was four years old, we lived next door to people from Sunderland, which I thought was a country before I was corrected. It is clearly a very fine place with rich culture and history, and she is obviously and rightly proud of it. I also congratulate other hon. Members from both sides of the Chamber on supporting my hon. Friend in securing the debate, and Members who have made such thoughtful and interesting contributions this afternoon.
I have to make my contribution today from the Dispatch Box, but I should say that I have a passionate and long-standing personal interest in the creative industries, especially those relating to the arts and most especially music, in which this country is a world leader in just about every sphere. As I said in the Westminster Hall debate yesterday, to which much reference has been made—the Minister will respond to this debate, as he did yesterday—I was a part-time jazz musician in my youth, as well as a member of the Musicians Union. I should perhaps declare an interest in that the union has provided support to my constituency party in past elections. I also said in yesterday’s debate that I secured my very first Adjournment debate some 18 years ago on the subject of public funding for jazz, which was and remains far too low. Public funding for the arts across the board is vital. Perhaps only the commercially successful field of popular music can be self-sustaining. Even with that, online rip-offs are making inroads into incomes, as we heard yesterday.
We in Britain are astonishingly good with music. We have several of the finest orchestras and many of the finest classical musicians anywhere in the world. To gauge just how talented a musical nation we are, I refer to the situation some 35 or so years ago, when a European youth orchestra was formed. Auditions for the orchestra were held across Europe. If the best musicians had been chosen, all the chairs would have been filled by young British musicians. In the event, half the seats were allocated to the British and the others were shared out between the other European nations.
In the field of popular music, Britain has been a dominant force for decades. From The Beatles to Adele, we bestride the world with a seemingly unending stream of brilliance. It has to be said that we are helped because English is the major international language—that undoubtedly helps our creative exports across the piece—but music is essentially about harmonious sounds that do not require translation. When it comes to melody and harmony, and indeed rhythm, we can match the best.
To return to jazz, we have produced brilliant musicians and superb music for many decades. For some 15 years, I was a board member of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. I have seen scores and possibly hundreds of breathtakingly great young musicians pass through the NYJO ranks. I know jazz music only too well, so I know just how good those young musicians are. Amy Winehouse sang with NYJO in her teens, as did another wonderful singer called Sumudu Jayatilaka, who Members may have seen singing in the millennium celebrations at the O2 Arena at midnight on that day.
I have perhaps over-indulged my musical interests, but Britain has great success in other fields. We continue to make some of the finest films in the world, and our film studios, actors, directors, technicians and all the skills in the industry bring in substantial revenues, while they entertain, educate and enthral us all.
In theatre, we draw in millions of tourists from across the world, especially to London, to watch our great actors perform in top-class productions. There has been a recent British boom even in dance and choreography, in all styles. In broadcasting, our radio and television is arguably the best in the world, and drama and documentary exports are money-spinners for us. I once had the misfortune to watch the Olympic games on holiday in an unnamed foreign country. The presentation was dismal—I was used to the superb sports coverage of the BBC, which was light years away in quality.
I could continue to wax lyrical about our creative industries—I have not covered some fields in the time allowed, for which I apologise. We have superb museums, a great heritage sector and great writers—this is the land of Shakespeare, no less. However, I wish to make serious points about sustaining our success for the future. It is vital to give every young person with the talent and potential to develop as a musician, an actor or an artist the myriad technical skills needed across the sector. The seedcorn of talent in our young must be nurtured and supported, which means appropriate and necessary state funding. In music, instruments and tuition are expensive, and squeezing the budgets of local authorities and of education has meant cuts in provision. Music must not become the preserve only of the children of affluent parents, who simply pay for their children’s instruments and tuition—as, indeed, happened in my own case. Instruments must be available for all young people to borrow and tuition must be free for children of school age.
Young people from all backgrounds must be given their chance to develop and shine, not just for themselves but for our future success as a creative nation. Our recent colleague and successful actor, the brilliant Glenda Jackson, said in this place that she could never have attended drama school without a full state grant and not having to pay fees. I wish to see education funding restored to the way it was when I was a student in the 1960s and have said so many times from the Back Benches.
We must also defend and sustain public service broadcasting, a vital and civilising feature of Britain, which, like the NHS, is the envy of the world. Public support, wherever it is needed, should be provided with generous state funding for the future of our industries and the magnificent contribution they make to our lives, our culture and our economy. We are a brilliant nation and we should continue to shine.
I am very grateful to have the opportunity to appear before you, Madam Deputy Speaker, in this important debate. I congratulate the hon. Member for Sunderland Central (Julie Elliott) on securing it. This is a wonderful opportunity to debate our hugely successful creative industries. I would also like to use this opportunity to welcome the official culture spokesman for the Labour party, the hon. Member for Luton North (Kelvin Hopkins). I had the chance to welcome him in a Westminster Hall debate yesterday. I made the point that when I made my maiden speech on the Opposition Benches in June 2005, he was on the Government Benches and he followed me in the debate, so he has always had a special place in my heart. Yesterday, I discovered that he is a part-time jazz musician—I am playing for time while I find my notes, by the way—and so brings considerable skill and knowledge to the debate.
The hon. Member for Sunderland Central made a brilliant opening speech, in which she talked about Software City in Sunderland, set up in 2009. It was a brilliant speech because she brought home to me something I found out on referendum day, 23 June, when I went to Newcastle to do my bit to secure the spectacular result we ended up with. I met businesses from Newcastle and Sunderland. One point they made to me was that they felt very strongly that, although they had a lot of support and investment from around the country, in the north-east region it was not well known enough how successful Sunderland and Newcastle are in terms of hi-tech industries. The point they were trying to get across, of course, was that they want to encourage kids at school, or those leaving school to go to college, further education or university, to consider these industries. I went away with a promise, as it were, that I would do all I could to help.
Given that the Minister is talking about young people in particular, he might reflect on some of the challenges around social mobility and making sure that access to creative industries is available to young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.
I completely support the hon. Gentleman on that. I commend in particular the Next Gen group, started by Ian Livingstone, the well-known promoter of the games industry and the founder of many successful games companies. I have also been to some fantastic courses, supported by companies such as Microsoft in further education colleges, which reach out to people from different backgrounds and give them the hands-on skills they need to go straight into employment. The great challenge the creative industries face is giving young people the skills they need. Too often, the courses in further education and universities are too far removed from the world of work in the creative industries. It is changing so fast because of the change in technology, but let me return to some of the excellent speeches in the debate.
Will the Minister, who kindly came to the agency events hosted by Battersea arts centre here in the House, reflect on the concept of using creative organisations such as Battersea arts centre to enable and provide mentoring for young people to implement creative ideas?
We are certainly going to look at that. We published a culture White Paper a couple of months ago, which I shall come on to in some detail. Let me first say that one reason why I found myself in difficulty earlier relates to what I have discovered in two debates with the hon. Member for Luton North—that he gives commendably short speeches. I see the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) nodding with some understanding. I strongly commend the hon. Member for Luton North for this particular ability. Short speeches are more than welcome in this place.
Let me say how much I enjoyed hearing the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Chris White), who has done so much to promote the video games industry. I thank him for talking about the arts and widening the scope of this debate. The right hon. Member for Slough spoke about the importance of arts education, to which I shall return in a few minutes. Sadly, I was not in my place to hear the entire speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Selby and Ainsty (Nigel Adams), but I heard him in yesterday’s debate, when he talked so eloquently about copyright. Today, he widened his remarks to include general support for the music industry and particularly for live music. The hon. Member for Dundee West (Chris Law), who is the other co-chair of the all-party group on video games, spoke about Dundee as one of the great homes of video games development. He made yet another valiant bid on behalf of the SNP to take yet more powers from the Westminster Government.
I was not here for the full speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Southend West (Sir David Amess). I was about to say that he was an “unlikely champion” of the arts, but that would be unfair. At Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, he commended Southend yet again. I have worked out why. When I was drinking in a pub with Tracey Emin a few weeks ago—[Interruption.] Did I say Tracey Emin? The pub landlady came out and told me what a huge fan she was of Margaret Thatcher. On the day that we learn that we were about to get a second female Prime Minister, I recall her saying that she was a huge fan of Margaret Thatcher. She showed me a picture that featured the landlady, Margaret Thatcher and my hon. Friend the Member for Southend West. He has promised me that he will find out where that photograph was taken. We wait to hear, but I think that was the beginning of my hon. Friend’s cultural career.
I commend the hon. Member for Glasgow North (Patrick Grady), particularly for mentioning e-sports, which I passionately support. I am worried that the French are taking e-sports extremely seriously, and we need to promote them here. I was delighted to hear the hon. Gentleman mention them, particularly on a day when Manchester City have signed Kieran “Kez” Brown as its first e-sports professional football player. I also appreciated the hon. Gentleman’s point about local council support. I suspect that the sub-text was an attack on a Labour council from an SNP Member. Nevertheless, the support of local authorities is vital.
Let me thank the hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith (Deidre Brock) for mentioning our very successful publishing industry. We do not talk enough about it, partly because it does not receive the sort of support that the Government give to, say, film and video games. As she rightly pointed out, this is our most successful creative industry. Indeed, Scotland supplies some of our greatest authors. The hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West (Joanna Cherry) expanded the debate even wider, talking about the fashion industry, as well as importantly about work visas, general access to skills and immigration issues post-Brexit.
A number of themes emerged in the debate. One was the unmitigated success of the longest-serving creative industries Minister in recent history! In the last six years, we have seen the exponential growth of the creative industries. Let me try to make a serious point here. These are our most successful industries, growing at three times the rate of the economy. Having done this job in opposition and in government, I have seen an increasing number of colleagues in this place who realise the importance of the creative industries and take them so seriously, and this has been reflected in the contributions of hon. Members today.
The creative industries are affected by very specific issues—including intellectual property protection, about which the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire has spoken eloquently for many years, and access to skills, which has also been raised in the Chamber—but they are highly successful. They are partly turbo-charged by tax credits for film, games and animation, which also extend to the arts, supporting theatre and galleries.
The right hon. Member for Slough rightly drew attention to the importance of arts education. We will differ on the question of whether the arts are being excluded from schools, and I expect that there will be constant debate about it. I personally reject the idea. People may think that an increased focus on science and technology, which perhaps has not been as strong as it could have been over the last few years, somehow means that the arts will suffer, but no one is preventing a headteacher from focusing on the arts and culture. Indeed, I would encourage it. Certainly, working with the present Secretary of State for Education and her predecessor, I have been able to secure important funding for music education and the creation of music education hubs, as well as a number of important programmes to promote heritage and culture.
We are also working on diversity, with the aim of reaching out to more and more people to extend cultural experiences. Our Culture White Paper—the first to be published for more than 50 years—focuses on the cultural citizens programme. We hope to launch a pilot in the autumn, embedding a cohort of young people from schools around the country with arts organisations and giving them a wide experience of the arts.
I am grateful to the Minister for giving way again. I especially welcome the work that the Government have done on music hubs. Redbridge Music Service is one of the participants, and it does an outstanding job. May I urge the Minister and his Department to keep a close eye on the consequences of local government funding cuts for many arts and cultural programmes, which are coming under enormous pressure because of the strain on councils’ finances?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind words. He has allowed me to make a further point about the culture White Paper, in which we announced our proposed Great Place scheme. We have seen the huge success of Liverpool’s designation as European capital of culture, and the huge success of the city of culture scheme, initiated by the last Labour Government, which first benefited Derry/Londonderry and will benefit Hull next year. The Great Place scheme is designed to allow local authorities a small amount of funding to create a cultural strategy. The North East Culture Partnership was one of the inspirations for the idea. In the NECP, 12 councils and five universities have come together to create a coherent vision for culture in the north-east. It is important to note that it is a long-term vision, covering not just the next 12 months but the next 15 years.
I agree with the hon. Member for Glasgow North that we should encourage councils to understand the importance of culture in shaping places, creating jobs and bringing communities together, but also in improving health and wellbeing and contributing to education.
I agree with the Minister that we should encourage councils to support culture, but when their funding is being squeezed, they have to cut because there is no alternative. Does the Minister not agree that we must provide the funds as well as the encouragement?
I do not want to range too far from my brief and start commenting on local authority funding, but, in my view, that is possible. I object to the fact that culture is always at the back of the queue, and that when it comes to making savings, it is the first thing that some councils look at. However, many imaginative councils—Labour and Conservative, and possibly even SNP—have shown that it is possible to continue to fund culture, and to embed it in many different areas rather than simply putting it in a silo labelled “culture”.
I think that I have covered quite a lot of ground in a slightly bitty way. I have not really put together the narrative that I hoped to put together, partly because I was slightly discombobulated by the pithiness of the remarks of the hon. Member for Luton North, but let me say this. I think that we in the United Kingdom are incredibly lucky to have such extraordinary cultural and creative industries, driven by some remarkable people. They have been supported strongly by Government, particularly through tax reliefs, and also in focusing on skills and a wider strategy.
We must make sure that in a Brexit world we work with the arts and creative industries, which are the calling cards of this fantastic country. We must ensure that they are part of the debate. We must ensure that, as the hon. Member for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy) said, they have a voice in a practical way. I can tell her that I came here from a meeting this morning of the inter-ministerial group, where we discussed DCMS-relevant sectors, looking at key business areas across Government. Tourism, the creative industries, the media, and arts and culture were all part of that debate. We have already seconded one very senior civil servant to the Brexit unit. We will make sure, in a practical way, that culture and the creative industries are taken account of, but also, in a more wide-ranging way, that the voices of our artists and creators are heard as we forge a new way forward for the United Kingdom.
The Minister was very creative after he lost his notes. I was highly impressed with his recall of some of my speech. I have to say, however, that if he visited any pub in Sunderland, a photograph of the former Prime Minister would be the last thing he is likely to find behind the bar; it would not be welcome in my city.
This has been a very interesting and informative debate with contributions from Members in all parts of the House. We have ranged from Scotland, to Slough, to Southend, to Sunderland—
I am coming to Bristol. These are all parts of the UK with very diverse economies. The creative industries are very important to all parts of the country. Although many Members from Scotland contributed, they did not mention my favourite festival in Scotland, which my son-in-law introduced me to—the Worlds, the big pipe band competition at the beginning of August, which he has played at on occasion. The contribution made to our national economy by the creative industries is enormous, but often almost silent. For that reason alone, it is important that this debate has happened.
Education has been mentioned, including access to learning and the number of people applying for qualifications. We have significant concerns about the latter, and it is one thing I disagree with the Minister on. It is an issue that we and the Government need to watch. I would love to see a call for an industrial strategy on all levels.
On the impact of Brexit, the outstanding contribution was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy). This is what is worrying us most about these industries. With regard to visas, when I talked to people before the referendum, I heard about the struggle that some of our artists have in getting to America. If that replicates itself in Europe, we will have very serious problems. I welcome what the Minister said about somebody having been seconded to the Brexit unit, because we cannot over-emphasise the importance of these matters.
I hope the Government do not overlook this growing, diverse and economically important area of policy, and the impacts that Brexit will have. I feel slightly reassured by what the Minister said about that. Members of all parties in the House would help if there is anything we can do, because that is important not just to the creativity in our country but to the thriving, growing industries that the creative industries are.
Question put and agreed to.
That this House has considered support for the UK’s creative industries and their contribution to the economy.