Matt Hancock, newly appointed minister of state for digital and culture, has said he will back the UK's creative industries "to the hilt", in recognition that the sector is "absolutely central to our post-Brexit future".
Stoking the pride of the UK's creative industries, he said in a speech to the Creative Industries Federation on Friday (9th September) that the sector "consistently outperform[s] the rest of the economy" and drew the comparison between the creative industries and Team GB, both demonstrative that, "when talent is supported, this small group of islands can make an outsized contribution on the world stage".
Hancock promised he would be "backing success", both in terms of investment and undertaking to "fight" for supportive tax, regulatory and public investment frameworks. He further assured the sector that its tax reliefs would not be adversely affected by Brexit, which he commented had already proven "a great success", as he announced the launch of a new consultation on the next tax relief for museum and gallery exhibitions.
"As I hope you can tell, we are passionately committed to the success of our creative industries, not only because of the jobs you create, but lives you enrich, the horizons you broaden, the worlds you unlock for millions," he said. "Across music and theatre and tech and the arts, with fashion week – which I adore – next week. From coding to craft, from publishing to production. Advertising, architecture, TV, film, radio, photography, design, dance, drawing, games, museums and our world beating galleries.
"Their full value cannot be always quantified by the Office for National Statistics but we value them for what they are. And we have shown, time and again, we are prepared to invest."
He added: "Yes, there will be challenges to overcome but we are committed to ensuring that as we prepare to leave the European Union we do so in a way that protects the British economy and ensures Britain remains an attractive destination for investment," he said.
Hancock, emphasising the importance of "access", also called for the creative industries to account to "drive open diversity", on the basis no one be excluded "because of their access, their gender, or their postcode".
"You have a special responsibility to be a force for openness and social mobility in Britain," he said. "There’s already some great work being done."
Diversity has been at the forefront of publishers' minds, with Penguin Random House leading the way with The Scheme to open up its recruitment practices, regardless of qualifications, as part of its creative responsibility manifesto, and Penguin Pride. It also recently launched Write Now in a bid to publish new writers from communities that are under-represented on the nation’s bookshelves. Other intiatives include HarperCollins' BAME training scheme, the Spare Room project, setting out to tackle regional diversity, and the efforts of New Writing North in rallying publishers to do more to "discover and bring forth more writers of colour, more working class voices and more work that represents a diversity and range of experiences".
"We also need to improve geographical access to arts, culture and creativity," said Hancock. "It’s about diversity in all its forms: it’s about social mobility as well as gender, ethnicity, disability or sexual identity."
Hancock also welcomed the appointment of Sir Nicholas Serota to the role of chairman of Arts Council England, saying: "If there’s anyone who knows how to make the spreading of excellence build on not dilute that excellence, it is Sir Nick Serota."
He closed on the importance of "synthesis, of culture with digital technology", in promotion of the Digital Economy Bill.
"You can’t grow the digital market if you don’t support content. And ultimately, content and distribution grow together. Yes there’s a debate and negotiation about shares. But our task is to grow together."
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