The lowdown from #CACIN @The Conservative Party Conference 2014
Posted in: Events
On Monday 29th September, as part of The Conservative Party Conference 2014, MPs and key figures in the creative industries, both public and private sector, came to Fazeley Studios for a day of panel discussions and debates on the issues facing the country’s creative businesses and entrepreneurs.
The three main topics of the day were “Access to Finance”, “The Role of Intellectual Property in Building a Creative Nation” and “Creative Skills: STEM to STEAM”
The Access to Finance Panel looked at the phenomenal growth opportunities presented by the creative industries, but how the rapidly changing nature of the industry and the uncertainty of how to value ideas based companies by many of those working in finance often makes it difficult for these companies to access the loans and investment they need. Equally, creative entrepreneurs often have to teach themselves the language and procedures of business or finance, which can often seem alien and daunting to them and detract from their main task of creating outstanding products or content.
High profile industry figures, including Lou Cordwell (Founder & CEO, magneticNorth) and Charles Cecil MBE (Co-Founder, Revolution Software ) inspired the audience with their own journey from starting our from scratch. Charles Cecil strongly praised recent Government initiatives such as video games tax relief but called for more visible support initiatives in the regions north of London.
It was unanimous in the room that financial support was needed in simple language, a language that the creative and financial industries could share and that better signposting was required for schemes.
As examples of schemes that are available to bridge this gap, Caroline Norbury, CEO of Creative England suggested that one way of creative industries enhancing their understanding of finance was through the British Bankers Association Finance scheme: http://www.mentorsme.co.uk/ . We also received a tweet from BBF (Better Buisness Finance) signposting us to start up loans and peer to peer lending http://www.betterbusinessfinance.co.uk/finance
Finally, a hot topic that received attention on twitter was a question by audience member Paul Rice of Rice Media, who asked the Rt Hon Sajid Javid how many government contracts are awarded to West Midlands creative SMEs. Although he did not have the figures to hand, Sajid Javid emphasised that the Government had worked on making contracts more open to SMEs in general and that the number of contracts awarded to SMEs had increased threefold, with figures available on the Cabinet Office website.
During the Panel on Intellectual Property, Baroness Neville-Rolfe pointed out that the Creative Industries are the fastest growing sector and talked about need to insert IP into national curriculum from the very start of education,.
Panellists, including Marianne Grant form the Motion Picture Association, celebrated the UK’s world class reputation for brands and creative content (we found out that the MPA has recently invested £860 million in the UK), but agreed that the industry can only thrive with the right IP support and protection.
The panel discussed the tightrope that IP has to walk between stifling creativity and protecting the most precious asset that creative businesses have. It was clear that all the feedback from businesses & creators has called for stability in IP law and an easy way to navigate the many volumes of reports that focus upon copyright.
Sparked by the audience questions, a discussion arose as to the need for idea sharing and collaboration to be developed and nurtured between those in the cultural sectors, the creative sectors and tech/network sectors. Sharing and networking between the sectors can be infrequent, but if we could foster this cross sector collaboration between them they could spark off each other’s creativity andcreate new ground breaking, transformational ideas.
During the panel on skills, From Stem to Steam, panellist John Newbigin called for the arts to gain ‘parity of esteem’ with science and technology on the curriculum. Attendees also debated around the need for teachers to have more freedom to explore the interplay between subjects rather than confining music to music class and maths to maths class, without looking at how these subjects can be a gateway to understanding each other.
All the experiences of the panel and audience supported the notion that cultural and creative subjects are not ‘soft skills’. They are essential in building confidence and creative problem solving, the kind of skills that successful businesspeople thrive on. For our economy to thrive and to create the engaged, enthusiastic, confident and creative workforce of the future we need to revisit the way that creative and cultural subjects are viewed.
In a speech that closed the panel discussions and opened the networking event, Ed Vaizey, Minister of Culture, Comms & Creative Industries, told the room that the creative industries is an area in which the UK punches above its weight and is one of the things that inspires other countries about us. And it really is! Here in Digbeth there are companies doing work on ground breaking technologies, exporting their services internationally and creating amazing new content across a wide range of platforms.
Let us know your thoughts on what the Government can do to help creative business and entrepreneurs by commenting here or tweeting us with the hashtag #CACIN.
View the full pictures here:
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