Scaling-up the UK’s creative business

Danny Boyle’s fantastic opening ceremony for the Olympics highlighted that Great Britain has a great heritage and we can really put on a show – given the right investment! The ‘Big Society’ fails to provide a suitable framework to rebuild and refocus our future, to re-launch UK plc on the global stage. In short, how are we going to make Britain ‘Great’ again?

We have the opportunity to build the world centre of excellence around a major ‘Creative Business’ initiative in which we must invest significantly to reshape, our home market, but also re-create a world-leading export-led economy.

1. Creativity – investing in an ideas-led economy

We excel in the creative arts and we have the opportunity to also lead the world in providing content for the growth of video across the Worldwide Web. We already have some of the world’s best creative professionals, but we risk just supplying the offshore ‘talent’ to non-UK media owners. We need to create a focussed re-assessment of the Tax and Investment regime that will bring ‘all of Hollywood and more’ back into the UK. This is not just about the on-stage experience; it is about developing the wider core skills that underpin the creative sector. Plus, it is also about back office, e.g. the commercial and legal framework that underpins the creative industry, such as copyright and patent law, especially in the era of the WWW. This reinforces the need to invest in the talent food chain that would make Creative UK plc perform as the world leading business it should be. To put it another way, we need to shift from ‘War War to Jaw Jaw’.

Let’s not forget that some of our most valuable assets are also based on sport. This is also the opportunity to invest in sport and the business of sport – sport is another type of performance art, with massive worldwide commercial appeal.

2. English is the ‘Lingua Franca’ of the Internet and the WWW

The currency in which we will build the ‘Creative Business’ idea is ‘English’. It is the language most in use on the WWW (but for how long?) which in turn is the language that connects cultures and facilitates international politics and business. It also means that we can mine and re-present our archive of English language works; from Chaucer to Shakespeare to Thomas and Rushdie. We also need to make the BBC Archives, the British Library and the National Sound Archives all more accessible; but we should also promote new works and encourage an international celebration of the English language. The UK should be the centre of excellence for the English language and the world repository for the physical and digital archives of all such works.

3. Education, Education, Education?

There are more highly qualified English users coming out of the voracious economies like India and China, looking to consume and export creative content, than is generated in the UK. The UK should not only lead through our language, but also through owning and leading the education around the expanding creative business.

In summary, facilitating the ‘Creative Business’ means restating the timeline for activating Broadband Britain. We also have the opportunity to shift from being passive gadget users to creating more designers of the next generation of devices and especially the content consumed through them. There are many significant societal benefits too; it is more understandable to spend money on this initiative, than to justify the intangibles derived from what we spend on Defence. A well-articulated idea has a more long term effect than any weapon.

A New National Identity – ‘The UK, the Home of Great Ideas’.

I offer two alternative national examples:

    Finland was the home of the mobile phone through Nokia, but it has been surpassed through more agile participants from other territories.
    The USA has Silicon Valley as their technology centre of excellence, with brands like Apple & Google seeking to own our digital identities. It also has ‘Hollywood’ which has already benefitted from UK-originated franchises such as ‘Harry Potter’ and shortly through the work of E.L James.

Just being smart in the age of the WWW is not enough, but being smart enough to invest in what makes the UK unique through this initiative is key to a significantly more fiscally secure and sustainable future.

* Geof Todd is the MD of TODD Creative Services (, an independent Ideas and Creative Consultancy, who believes that the UK needs to think and act in a smarter way to reassert itself as a major world entity. He is a life-long supporter of the Liberal Democrats

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Bookmark the web address for this page or use the short url for Twitter and emails.


  • Helen Flynn 26th Nov '12 - 3:01pm

    Hi Geoff
    Great piece. I could not agree more. It rather makes you question the relevance of the Ebacc, does it not, which does not include art or music!
    I have just written a paper for the SLF where I am talking about how to develop an education system based around skills to encourage innovation and creativity, amongst other things. You can find it here, if you have a moment.

    I am concerned that many of the Gove reforms are backward looking or merely structural rather than taking a strategic view at what our country excels in and where our USP truly lies.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • User AvatarStimpson 13th Oct - 6:47pm
    The problem is that the referendum could well be treated as a protest vote against the current Tory government, rather than on its own merits....
  • User AvatarMatthew Huntbach 13th Oct - 6:40pm
    David Allen Hence, I argue we must bite the bullet and repudiate at least some substantial elements of our past. Yes, and I have never...
  • User AvatarPhyllis 13th Oct - 6:38pm
    Very very good points being made here by Bolano.
  • User AvatarJoe Otten 13th Oct - 6:35pm
    Clearly our party has a debate to have on economic policy, and this is a small contribution to that - emphasising the political importance of...
  • User AvatarDavidW 13th Oct - 6:34pm
    Well done! Legend!!!!
  • User AvatarStuart 13th Oct - 6:32pm
    Tried to find out what the Lib Dem position is. All I turned up was a statement from the Lib Dems this afternoon lambasting both...
Wed 14th Oct 2015
Thu 15th Oct 2015
Fri 16th Oct 2015
Sat 17th Oct 2015
Sun 18th Oct 2015
Tue 20th Oct 2015
Thu 22nd Oct 2015
Fri 23rd Oct 2015
Sat 24th Oct 2015
Sun 25th Oct 2015
Wed 28th Oct 2015
Thu 29th Oct 2015
Mon 2nd Nov 2015
Wed 4th Nov 2015
Thu 5th Nov 2015
Fri 6th Nov 2015
Sat 7th Nov 2015