Employment in music and the performing and visual arts has been growing more slowly than in the rest of the creative economy, but their financial performance is forging ahead.

Violinist plays in a band
Music is contributing more to the economy.

The latest figures estimating the composition of the UK’s creative economy and the financial performance of the creative industries are shining a clearer light on the economic impact of the arts. Using new criteria developed following a 2012 study by Nesta to classify the activities of the different parts of the creative industries, the Creative Industries Economic Estimates have been compiled by the DCMS to give a more accurate picture than ever before of the economic impact of creative employment.

The figures for the first time report on the creative economy as a whole and recognise the contribution of creative businesses as well as that of people who work in creative occupations in other types of organisations. They reveal that 2.55m people in the UK are now employed in the creative economy, which accounts for one in twelve of all jobs. The creative workforce has been growing faster than other sectors, having increased by 6% between 2011 and 2012. In the sub-sector of music and the performing and visual arts, where employment stood at 224k in 2012, the increase was only 0.9% over the previous year – but still greater than the UK average of increase of just 0.7%.

Creative businesses made a significant financial contribution to the economy, with their Gross Value Added (GVA) reaching £71bn in 2012 and accounting for 5.2% of the UK Economy. This contribution grew by 9.4% between 2011 and 2012, but within this, the GVA generated specifically by music and the performing and visual arts increased by 13%. Both figures are well ahead of the UK average growth for all sectors, which stood at just 1.6%.

The Nesta team whose research prompted the DCMS to re-think the way it classified creative activity in the economy has welcomed the new approach and believe it will be easier to update these in line with changes in the economy in future. Co-author of the research, Hasan Bakhshi, described the adoption of the new approach by the DCMS as a “major win for the cause of evidence-based policymaking.” Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Maria Miller, said: “These incredible statistics are confirmation that the Creative Industries consistently punch well above their weight, outperforming all the other main industry sectors, and are a powerhouse within the UK economy. We are committed to ensuring that the energy, innovation, skills and talent existing in this dynamic sector continues to translate into economic success, and provide a remarkable platform from which, we can showcase Britain to the world.”

Liz Hill