The creative industries are defined by the UK government as “those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property”.

This includes: advertising and marketing; architecture; crafts; design (product, graphic, fashion); film, TV, video, radio and photography; IT, software and computer services (‘creative tech’); publishing; museums, galleries and libraries; music, performing and visual arts.

Animation, VFX (visual effects), video games and heritage are among sub-sectors represented in statistics but not explicitly mentioned in the government definition. The Federation embraces these sub-sectors in its work.

The Creative Industries

The creative economy is a wider description that includes creative occupations outside the sector, such as designers in motor manufacturing, alongside the creative industries.


The creative industries generated £91.8bn GVA for the UK in 2016, the latest year for which statistics are available. This shows a year-on-year growth of 7.6%, compared with growth of 3.5% for the UK economy as a whole over the same period.

Since 2010, the GVA of the creative industries has increased by a massive 44.8% and the sector now makes up 5.3% of the UK economy.

GVA of creative industries

The creative industries outpace the 12 largest industries of the UK economy. They are bigger than many sectors which have been traditionally viewed as important to the economy or which are expected to be important in future, returning more than the automotive, life sciences, aerospace, oil and gas industries combined.

The sector also has social and intrinsic benefits and presents opportunities across every nation and region of the UK. This compounds its importance.


There are nearly 1.96 million (1,958,000) jobs in the creative industries.

This is an increase of 5.0% between 2015 and 2016 compared with a rate of 1.2% in the UK workforce as a whole. The increase is 25.4% since 2011.

The sector is growing at four times the rate of the wider UK workforce. It now provides 6% of all UK jobs.

Jobs in creative industries

The total employment in 2016 in the creative economy (which includes creative jobs in the economy as a whole - such as designers in the automotive industry) was 3 million (3,034,000).

Of all the people in the creative industries, including those in supportive jobs, 34.5% are self-employed. Of the creative workers in the creative industries, 47% are self-employed, compared with 15% across the workforce as whole.

6.7% of people working in the sector are from the EU (but not the UK) - roughly in line with the average across all industries. Almost 6% are from outside the EU (including the UK).

EU workers

London accounts for the largest share of creative sector employment at 33.2%.

Jobs in the creative industries have been identified by the innovation charity Nesta as being at low risk of automation. It concluded that 87% of workers in the highly creative category are at low or no risk of automation.


The figures released in July 2016 by DCMS reveal impressive growth in the workforce in different geographical regions of the UK including:

   •    Growth of film and TV industries in Yorkshire and Humber outstripping that in every other part of the UK, increasing by 40% in 2015 to 2016

   •    Advertising and marketing enjoyed more than a 20% increase in growth in the North-West

   •    The West Midlands enjoyed a 66% increase in jobs in design and designer fashion with a 54% increase in the East Midlands.

Scotland saw the fastest growth in creative industries employment of all nations from 2015 to 2016, at 13%. This compares with -1.8% in Wales, -11% in Northern Ireland and 4.8% in England.

Growth Locations

Between 2007 and 2014 more than nine in 10 of the 228 metropolitan areas (or travel-to-work-area geographies) that make up the UK experienced faster growth in the number of creative businesses than in the whole business population.

More than two-thirds of these areas saw faster growth in creative industries employment than in overall employment too.

Particularly high growth was shown by the crafts industry (14.6%), design and fashion (11%), creative tech including games (11.4%), publishing (7.7%) and film and TV (6.6%). The advertising industry has almost doubled in size since 2010, growing by 4.3% in the 2015-2016 period.

Employment by industry

The industry with the greatest growth in employment between 2015 and 2016 was design and designer fashion. This industry also had the greatest growth in employment between 2011 and 2016 (57.4%).

The creative tech industry (IT, software and computer services within the creative industries) now employs just over a third of those working in the creative industries.

The second largest sub-sector in terms of employment is music, performing and visual arts at 14.9% of the sector, followed by media (film, tv, radio, photography) at 12.5% and advertising at 10.1%.

Of the DCMS sectors, the creative industries saw the largest percentage growth in employment from  2011 to 2016 at 25.4%.


The number of people from BAME backgrounds in the creative industries increased by 14.9% between 2015 and 2016, an improvement two and a half times greater than that of the UK workforce.

BAME employees now make up 12.6% of the creative industries workforce.

Representation improved by 40% in film and television and almost 50% in design and fashion. However, as more creative businesses are in cities, which have more diverse populations, the proportions should be higher than for the workforce as a whole.


The latest figures (released 2016, covering 2015) showed a 7.2% year on year increase in the value of exported services to £21.2 billion, accounting for 9.4% of total exports of services from the UK. This is a growth of 44.3% between 2010 and 2015.

The total services exports increase across UK industries was 3.1%.

The United Kingdom was the third-largest exporter of cultural goods and services in the world, according to the last global comparisons - just behind China and the US.


Entries for GCSEs in arts and creative subjects fell by 8% in 2016, according to official statistics published by Ofqual. This was compared with a growth of 0.3% in the total number of GCSE entries in all subjects.

This was a drop of 46,000 in entries in art and design subjects, design and technology, drama, media film and TV studies, music, and performing/expressive arts compared with 2015.

The move away from creative subjects is growing. This was five times the drop in 2015, when candidate numbers fell by 9,000.

The subject most seriously affected was design and technology, which attracted 19,000 fewer exam entries in 2016. Least affected was music, with 1,500 fewer candidates.

Analysis by Arts Professional showed the decline was in contrast with increases in some other GCSE subjects, notably those included in the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) – the suite of subjects on which the government judges school performance. The EBacc does not include any arts subjects.

Between 2015 and 2016 the number of candidates for science subjects grew by 105,000, and for history and geography by 33,000. The popularity of languages continued to decline, but the rate of decline eased with 9,000 fewer candidates in 2016 compared with a fall of 26,000 in 2015.

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