One of the major growth sectors in the Welsh economy in recent years has been the creative industries, particularly around the city of Cardiff where major companies – such as Bad Wolf Productions – have located and educational institutions, especially the University of South Wales, are generating the skilled graduates needed by creative businesses.
With one in eight businesses across the UK being based in the creative industries, it is a sector that can certainly create further wealth and employment for the economy if it is supported properly and according to a recent report from the Creative Industries Federation, this can be done in a number of ways.
First of all, the finance and business support landscape need to be developed to reflect the needs of creative enterprises.
Here in Wales, the Welsh Government has recently focused on specifically supporting enterprise amongst women entrepreneurs. Given this, it could also do the same for the creative industries via its Business Wales website as these businesses face very different challenges to other firms.
In particular, it could charge its publicly funded Development Bank of Wales with setting up a targeted fund which would deliver the type of specialist finance needed by creative firms. This should take into account the intangible nature of the assets they have and which are far more difficult to value, communicate, protect, and export.
The Federation has also proposed that specific co-working spaces targeted at the creative sector should be developed.
Whilst none of its new enterprise hubs are specifically focused on the industry, the Egin development in Carmarthenshire is certainly aiming to support new start-ups in the sector. In addition, the University of South Wales is in the process of developing its own incubator at its Cardiff campus that will focus on supporting new ideas emerging from the Faculty of Creative Industries as part of its new entrepreneurship strategy.
With many recognising that skills development is the one of the key foundations for growth in the sector, it is good to see that the industry-led Screen Alliance Wales has been established to promote the talent, crew and services of the film and TV industry in Wales.
The Alliance is not only motivating people to learn more about the career opportunities within the film and TV industry but is educating and inspiring young people to work within the creative industries in Wales.
Finally, many creative enterprises have reported that business support organisations either do not understand the way that the sector or have not tailored their product or service to their specific needs.
As a result, some have suggested that a new organisation should be created that would be the catalyst for the sector and would support creative entrepreneurs across Wales through activities such as workshops, tailored guidance and advice, signposting, and business-to-business coaching.
Thankfully, the Welsh Government’s culture minister Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas has taken note of this.
Six months ago, he proposed the establishment of a new body – Creative Wales – that would deliver bespoke support to aid business growth in the sector through a tailored, streamlined and dynamic service to Welsh SMEs as well as freelancers and other businesses in the creative industry supply chain.
As yet, it has not been launched but given the growing importance of the sector to the Welsh economy, it could have a major effect on the creative industries here in Wales and could be the boost they need to develop further.