Created in Birmingham brings news that the Creative Republic website has had a makeover…

Creative Republic Birmingham

…and now has news-feeds for updates and for news of the release of the membership package. Looks good. They’re set up as a company (West Midlands Creative Republic Community Interest Company), and are apparently seed funded to the tune of £80,000 by the Arts Council — but I’m really dubious about the prominent front-page claim that…

“recent research has suggested that the region could see 250,000 new jobs in the creative and cultural sector over the next seven years”


If there’s one thing that creative industries support agencies should have learned over the past seven years is; don’t offer inflated forecasts of the employment figures, and don’t simply accept the word of those who ‘magic’ them out of very dodgy datasets. Ignore the marketing dullards who persuade you to grab headlines in this manner, and to elide ‘arts’ into ‘creative’ into ‘cultural’ into ‘sports’ into ‘tourism’ jobs. Among others, Creative Cornwall were caught at it — and their funding’s just been axed.

The Sector Skills Council’s reasonably robust 2006 regional breakdowns of employment, The Footprint: A Baseline Survey of the Creative and Cultural Sector (PDF, 190kb) gives a figure for the West Midlands of 36,790 jobs. I’d say that’s about right and, a bit of adjustment for audiovisual and other employment, I would estimate that there’s a core of perhaps 12,000 ‘real’ creative jobs in ‘the wider Birmingham’ area — jobs that working creatives would consider to be creative or offering a genuine contribution to culture. According to the study by Burfitt et al (2006) using 2001 Census data, just over 20% are likely to be freelancers. And, if the figures on region-wide turnover are any indication, there may then be a further 8,000+ ‘real’ creative jobs in the wider West Midlands. (*)

But the idea that we can add 250,000 new jobs — i.e.: 35,000+ such new jobs every year over a sustained seven year period — seems ridiculous. Adding 25,000 in and around content origination would be a much more manageable (although still hugely ambitious) goal, over 10 years, if massive resources and the willpower were available.

* We may possibly get better employment figures when the 2008 DCMS Creative Economic Estimates Bulletin is released (late 2008), which will apparently add data from National Insurance records to the existing dodgy datasets. Perhaps sooner, as Dave Harte points out in the comments, in the appendices of the forthcoming DCMS Creative Economy Programme Strategy document.