- The next generation may finally get sight of the role models they deserve
This came as a shock: in a major economic announcement, the Prime Minister has singled out the creative sector as one of the UK's five most crucial economic sectors. What? Did we hear that right? This required an immediate check of the official press release, surely there had been some mistake. This was, after all, an announcement about industry, not arts and culture.
No, it's true - along with life sciences, low-carbon emission vehicles, industrial digitalisation and nuclear, there it was: 'the creative industries'.
Of course to those inside of it, the creative sector's status as a runaway success story is not news. The sector is the second biggest and fastest growing in the UK economy. And it is a global champion, its only peer being the US - with other contenders trailing by a mile.
Yet the press, policymakers and wider business ecosystem have seemed strangely unaware of both the sector's current economic value and massive future potential. And this means that the public at large remains largely in the dark about this shining British beacon.
Instead, discussions about anything creative too often - and oddly - veer into somewhat dismissive talk about 'celebrities,' 'lovely hobbies' and 'luvvies.' And when there is discussion about creative business, the focus is virtually always on the creative output of the business, not the business itself.
A favourite case in point was a recent in-conversation event Creative Entrepreneurs had with Charlotte Tilbury, the British founder of the world's fastest growing beauty brand, to let aspiring entrepreneurs learn about how she'd created it from scratch. A leading global newspaper sent a journalist to cover it, but ultimately rejected the journalist's story. The editors thought it was 'too business-y' - they'd hoped it would be about make-up tips.
There is much to debate about why the creative sector tends to be so under-recognised as an economic force. But we believe the biggest problem with this state of affairs is that it denies the next generation exposure to role models. Young people with creative ideas are encouraged to pursue them as a hobby to be fit around a 'proper job', or to resign themselves to being a starving artist.
They aren't shown role models such as Anya Hindmarch (fashion), Jamal Edwards (music), Thomas Heatherwick (design) or Charlotte Tilbury (beauty) who have built highly successful businesses from sheer creative talent. These, and the businesses of so many other creative people, have been largely hidden from view as they have built the roaring economic success that has been recognised today as one of Britain's 5 'world-leading sectors.'
The Prime Minister's announcement was officially the launch of a discussion paper, 'The Industrial Strategy Green Paper'. Much debate will now ensue on state intervention and the specifics of the Government's proposals.
While we at Creative Entrepreneurs look forward to participating in the debate, we are stopping to savour a more fundamental victory: the arrival of the tipping point where the creative sector has finally flown onto the Government's radar for high-growth, priority industrial sectors.
We will hope the press and other thought leaders take note soon, so that this awareness can enter into mainstream consciousness - and, most importantly, into the dreams of the next generation of Britain's creative talent.