This report explores the role of combined authorities in relation to the creative industries and the potential of new opportunities for combined authorities to fulfil this role.
The creative industries accelerate growth in local economies, both directly and indirectly. This growth can be assisted by combined authorities. New opportunities for combined authorities to do this are emerging from the Government’s devolution deals, levelling up policies and creative sector vision
The Local Government Association (LGA) commissioned this research to explore the role of combined authorities in relation to the creative industries and the potential of new opportunities for combined authorities to fulfil this role. The contribution of the creative industries to the economies of combined authorities is significant. Across the combined authorities, on average three per cent of employment is in the creative industries. In Greater Manchester, for example, this amounts to over 50,000 jobs. All combined authorities benefit from clusters of creative excellence and growth in creative employment that outpace national averages.
Supporting this employment will bring direct benefit to the economies of combined authorities and a range of indirect benefits:
- developing and rebranding an area’s cultural identity
- driving footfall, hospitality, and night-time / leisure / tourism industries
- improving wellbeing and productivity
- encouraging inward investment and business clustering.
Various agencies, such as Arts Council England, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), and local authorities, have pursued strategies to seize these benefits. In 2020, the LGA published Creative Places, a local creative economy toolkit, which focused on the role of local authorities in this context. Having a combined authority with a focus on the creative industries is not an essential prerequisite of local growth of these industries. Local authorities can play a key role in supporting this growth and the innovation and entrepreneurship of these industries can also spur growth independent of public policy. Any support from public policy should take a form that is tailored to the local challenges and opportunities, which may or may not include a role for combined authorities.
This report supports the need for combined authorities to learn what has worked elsewhere and to tailor approaches best suited to the strengths and weaknesses of their creative industries. In addition to the Levelling Up White Paper, the Government is developing a Creative Sector Vision. This provides an opportunity for combined authorities to articulate to central government what they need to further grow their creative industries.
As evidenced in this report, combined authorities already hold significant capacity to support this growth – and with further backing from central government are well-placed to extend these capacities and unlock the potential of the creative industries.
Read the full report by downloading the PDF below.
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