Creative industries' major role in Birmingham economy
The size of the creative industries in Birmingham is often a matter for debate itself, but early figures from a new report profiling the creative economy should provide a snapshot of the sector ahead of the Big Debate next week. Anna Blackaby breaks down the numbers.
More people in the city work in the creative industries than in either the construction or the automotive manufacture, sales and repair sector, the provisional findings of a new report commissioned by the Creative Birmingham Partnership Board (CBPB) have revealed.
Small firms operating in digital media, music and computer software and those in the design and architecture areas should be the focus of support, the report will conclude.
The creative industries sector employs similar numbers to the legal, accountancy and management consultancy professions combined and produced more than £660 million of GVA in 2007, according to the report undertaken by BOP Consulting and funded by Birmingham City Council.
The research, which will be published next month, should provide a basis for discussions at the Big Debate event next week which seeks to explore the role of the creative industries in rejuvenating the wider economy.
Taking place at the ICC on Monday November 2, the event will bring together speakers such as Charles Leadbeater, a leading authority on innovation and strategy and author of the book We-think, Toby Barnes of Digbeth-based cross-platform agency Mudlark and David Harris, executive creative director of direct marketing agency Wunderman. The event, which is organised by the Birmingham Post, the NEC Group and Birmingham City University, will invite interaction from everyone attending through a series of brainstorming sessions and challenges to produce a list of recommendations to be handed to the Government.
The CBPB report found creative industries account for around 20,000 jobs in Birmingham – four per cent of the city’s workforce – and 3,450 creative businesses make up ten per cent of the city’s total number of firms.
But the figures cover the period from 2003- 2007 so do not take into account the full impact of the recession on the creative industries.
Ninety-three per cent of creative firms in the city are micro-busineses, employing ten or fewer people.
The audio-visual part of the sector, which includes interactive digital media, music and computer software, accounts for the largest share of jobs – just under half – but visual art and design is the fastest growing.
This area, which includes design and architecture, is the largest in terms of business numbers, rising by more than two-thirds over 2003-07.
The report concludes future business support should be focussed on micro businesses in these two domains.
The research also found that creative businesses are cautiously optimistic – nearly two-thirds expected their business to grow either strongly or gradually over the next three years.
Access to investment finance is the greatest single barrier to growth is access to investment finance, according to the research.
But they are positive about Birmingham’s image and reputation – over 70 per cent agreed it is improving, but businesses want to see further investment in marketing of the city.
They are happy with Birmingham as a location – three-quarters do not expect to move in the next three years and 75 per cent of those that do plan to stay in Birmingham.
Respondents want the city council and other agencies to work more closely with them to develop a clear message about what Birmingham stands for, on festivals strategy and plans for Digbeth.