The creative industries were defined in a UK government mapping document of 2001 which built on groundbreaking work begun in 1998.

The agreed definition was “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), videogames 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.

Many of the creative industries are also important to other sectors, such as tourism.

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 £87.4bn GVA for the UK in 2015, the latest year for which statistics are available.

Since 2010, the GVA of the creative industries has increased by a third (34%), compared with average growth of 4.3% a year for the UK economy as a whole during the same period.

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.

They return four times the GVA of the automotive industry, six times as much as life sciences and nearly 10 times that of aerospace. A 2015 analysis by PwC showed the automotive sector was worth £19.6bn GVA, life sciences £14.5bn, oil and gas £13.7bn and aerospace £8.8bn.

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 1.9 million jobs in the creative industries, an increase of 3.2% between 2014 and 2015. The increase is 19.5% since 2011 against 6.3% in the UK workforce as a whole. The sector accounts for one in six of the London workforce.

The total UK creative economy accounted for 2.9 million jobs or one in 11 of the working population. This was a rise of 5.1% between 2014 and 2015.

London accounts for the largest share of creative industry employment at 30.8%, a growth of 15.6% between 2011 and 2015.

Employment has grown even more rapidly in a number of regions outside the capital. There were increases of 26.9% in Yorkshire and the Humber, 52.5% in the East Midlands, 38.7% in the West Midlands and 32.5% in the South West in the same period.

These jobs 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.

By comparison, the UK automotive industry employs 169,000 people directly in manufacturing and 814,000 people across the industry as a whole.


The latest figures showed a 10% year on year increase in the value of exported services to £19.8bn, accounting for 9% of total exports of services from the UK.

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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