A useful new post on local creative industries statistics from Dave Harte. As always, such statistics are hard enough to calculate at the national level, due to the lumpen way the raw data is collected and sorted. When expressed at regional and city level they need to be taken with an even bigger pinch of salt. For instance, I was at the Creativity and Creative Sectors, Clusters and Networks event at the Birmingham University in Dec 2007. A senior consultant and researcher was speaking there, and he had been looking for statistics at a regional level. He found it’s (quote)…

“unbelievably confusing when working at a regional level” … “it’s a mess”.

But my latest summation here on D’log, when I wrote in Feb 2008

“I would estimate that there’s a core of perhaps 12,000 ‘real’ creative jobs in ‘the wider Birmingham’ area”

…seems to be broadly supported by the new figures given by Dave Harte. He gives snippets from an unpublished report which suggests 18,720 creative industries jobs in the Birmingham area at 2007. Widen that out a little to include the “real-world” Birmingham suburbs of Solihull, Wolverhampton, Lichfield etc — but then strip out all the TV and electronics vendors (*), accounting software firms, and the purely admin jobs that sit inside the arts and creative industries — and I’d suggest you’d probably be down to around 12,000 ‘real’ creative jobs in ‘the wider Birmingham’ area. By which I mean jobs that creatives would recognise as being creative.

    * manufacture and wholesale/retail distribution of consumer entertainment electronics gets lumped into “radio and television activities”, for instance. So an assistant at Dixons or a Samsung warehouse truck-driver is deemed to work in the creative industries. In the Regional Culture Data Framework, all design-based activities apparently get lumped into the ‘Visual Art’ category. And crafts have no appropriate SIC/SOC codes at all. Generally, the antique SIC/SOC codes (Standard Industrial Classification and Standard Occupational Classification) are not good enough to winkle out the ‘creativity factor’ in modern job descriptions, nor can they capture the fluidity inherent in the most creative areas of the creative industries. And now that the DCMS budget is to be slashed (possibly by 50%) it seems there’s going to be little chance to push for further work on reforming such statistical measures.