Yesterday the Creative Industries Minister – currently James Purnell – outlined the seven broad strands the government will focus on, on order to boost the UK’s creative industries as part of a forthcoming initiative called the “Creative Economy Programme”. Items one-to-six were predictable, “big policy”-driven and often wooly, but number seven was interesting…. “Evidence – establish the importance of the creative industries to the economy.” We certainly badly need a reliable evidence base, and a reform of the blunt SIC/SOC codes that are used by government to classify people by what profession area they are “in”. The UK Skills Council was mooted to be doing just that, but how far the initiative has progressed I’m not sure. The problem arises because

“creatives move in and out of the sector, and between sub-sectors, and have multiple paid and unpaid jobs – often all within the same month. Many microbusinesses, partnerships and self-employed workers are invisible to government statistics.”

Nor do we have robust evidence for the impacts of culture-led regeneration, particularly “iconic” flagship buildings and their associated workshop clusters. For this we need strong data about things like: the wider impact on gentrification; displacement impact on surrounding facilities; impact on areas that “fringe the fringe” of such developments; impact on informal “everyday life” cultures; sustainability over time; which type of cultural development, where and with whom work best. Liverpool and the “Capital of Culture” seems likely to offer us an interesting case-study in this respect.