Yesterday, Lewis Silkin held its xCHANGE event, which featured some fantastic presentations by exciting speakers on the creative industries, from Creative UK, to companies using AI in amazing new ways; from the use of new tech in harnessing offshore wind and protecting the marine environment, to storytelling and collaboration. Stitching it all together, the intersection between: creativity x technology x science x innovation. 

The key themes to come from the event were as follows:

  1. The importance of the creative economy to the UK economy.  Its growth outpaces the rest of the UK economy.  It is bigger than the financial services sector and one in five jobs in London are in the creative sector. The UK is the second biggest exporter of music in the world and is also a very significant player for TV formats and film. 
  2. The need to invest in education and skills for creative people.  Many companies say that they cannot recruit or retain the staff they want, and the concentration on STEM subjects, particularly in England, is affecting the development of creative skills in schools.  Investing in talent and innovation will power the future – it improves the skills base, and then has knock-on effects to improve the economy and our democracy.  It isn’t just about profit, but it can have significant benefits – investment in the BBC licence fee leads to value beyond the value of the public subsidy, and the success of War Horse helped to pay for the refurbishment of the National Theatre.
  3. The danger of the UK resting on its laurels and the need for investment in creative industries.  People think of investing in culture as investing in the arts, but it’s a much bigger sector than that.  Investment has halved in the last ten years, and although the UK has been a world leader in the creative sector, other countries are now catching up fast, so the UK needs to act to keep its competitive advantage.  Public subsidy can catalyse private investment – we need both.
  4. Technology democratises creativity.  An example was given of how many Beethovens there might have been, but they didn’t have access to a piano.  In the same way that social media has democratised content sharing, technology and particularly AI can help people to create things who otherwise would not have had the tools to do so.  It also boosts productivity in both low paid and higher paid jobs and despite all the concern about its dangers, it can be a force for good.  In addition, widening access helps to promote diversity in the creative industries, not just in the “usual” measures like race or sex, but also in socio-economic and geographic factors.
  5. Collaboration collaboration collaboration.  When people work together, the magic happens, but people have to brave enough to work with others, and humble enough to know that they don’t have all the answers on their own.  Often the best ideas come from the most unexpected places and the more people work together the more those ideas can propagate.  Creative sectors need to work with other sectors such as engineering and use storytelling techniques to create visions that others will buy in to.

The creative sectors also need to consider the rise of the “super distruster” – people who feel that the nebulous political elite is a problem which deliberately acts against the interests of the people.  They make up around 30% of the UK adult population on all sides of politics and all demographics, and are sceptical of consensus, which is a problem for collaboration.  But it is also an opportunity, as “super distrusters” will invest in things like decentralised things such as physical formats (vinyl records, for example), “dissident” spaces such as the Daily Wire and “unapologetic” brands (examples were Greggs and Warhammer – brands that aren’t considered to be “woke”).

In summary, the day was all about the wonder of collaboration and working together to create something better.