Creative industries contributed £84bn to UK economy in 2014

Doctor who christmas 2010

A report from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport published yesterday says the Creative Industries grew twice as fast as the rest of the British economy. The Guardian reports:

One of the areas of strongest growth was in film, TV, video, radio and photography, which rose almost 14%, second only to architecture and graphic products and fashion design. Advertising and marketing increased by almost 11% between 2013 and 2014 but publishing went up just 2.8%. The number of jobs in the creative industries – which includes both creative and support roles – increased by 5.5% in the same time period, to 1.8 million. The creative industries economic estimates are official government statistics used to measure the direct economic contribution of those industries to the UK economy.

That’s based on figures from 2014. So let me contrast that with a statement made in November 2015 by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan. telling students to study ‘proper’ subjects that matter to the economy:

If you didn’t know what you wanted to do… then the arts and the humanities were what you chose because they were useful, we were told, for all kinds of jobs.

We now know that this couldn’t be further from the truth. That the subjects to keep young people’s options open are STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths.

I wonder if the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have sent their report to the Department for Education?

The British electrical plug. A design classic you either ignore, or ridicule depending on where you’re from.

Apple British plug design
The new plug packaged with the Apple Watch in the UK.

Foreign visitors have been known to query the design of the British electrical plug which, compared with that of most countries, seems quite large and – if you accidentally step on one – rather painful.

Well once it’s plugged in it’s not that large at all, and far less easy to accidentally kick out of the socket. You don’t get the sparking and whiff of ozone you do in other countries because the electricity doesn’t start flowing until all contacts are safely behind plastic. And newer designs are a lot slimmer than they used to be. Apple’s patented design (pictured above) has prongs that fold away like synchronised swimmers, a solution so elegant you wonder why no one came up with it before. I hope they make it free to others to use…

But aesthetics aside, there are other reasons why the British plug is so good: it is very, very safe. Tom Scott explains why:

Eureka! UK home to 20% of creative workers in EU, study shows

Nesta Logo

Britain can claim 1 million more creative workers than France, and has more than a fifth of the creative staff in the EU, research shows. But the UK lags behind Sweden, which has won the accolade as the European economy with the highest proportion of creative workers. The report by Nesta, an independent thinktank, shows that Britain has succeeded more than most countries in the EU in developing a creative workforce. These jobs are not just in hi-tech firms or the arts, but cover advertising and marketing, the media, architecture and the design industries

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New UK passport design features just two women

The “Creative United Kingdom” passport, unveiled by the immigration minister James Brokenshire, and highlighting the successes in innovation, architecture, art and performance, includes portraits of John Harrison, who invented the marine clock, artist John Constable, and architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott.

There are watermarks of William Shakespeare on every page, while a page each is devoted to the works of artists Antony Gormley and Anish Kapoor and to Stephenson’s Rocket, designed by George and Robert Stephenson.

Just two women are prominently displayed: the architect Elisabeth Scott, who designed the Royal Shakespeare theatre and the Bournemouth Pier theatre; and the mathematician and daughter of poet Lord Byron, Ada Lovelace, who shares a page with Charles Babbage to mark their reputation as builders of the first computer, the Babbage Analytical Engine.

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The year of the Amstrad: how writers learned to love the computer

Much of this writing presumably never found a reader. And since the Amstrad had no easy way of connecting with another machine, these half-written memoirs and abandoned novels must now lie trapped in unreadable 3in floppy disks, binned or hidden at the backs of drawers. These losses are the price we pay for the elusiveness of a digital world that stores information not in material traces but in ethereal forms like binary ones and zeros. A book can now go from word file to email attachment to PDF proof to ebook, with no intervening encounter with paper and ink. The Amstrad did its bit to make this new world possible: it was the grisly beige gulag that gave birth to billions of words.

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Jonathan Jones is wrong: museum fees are an abandonment of British ideals

The free admission policy costs approximately £45m to implement. The seven million additional overseas visitors now frequenting these museums spend on average £90 per day to the benefit of the wider UK economy. So, the £315m thus generated far outstrips the cost of the policy. Wider economic analysis of national museums demonstrates that for every £1 of government subsidy, national museums provide £3.50 in wider economic benefit. Far from being a subsidised cost, free admission represents very good value for money.

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Jonathan Dimbleby urges public to rise up in support of embattled BBC

Dimbleby’s sentiments were echoed this weekend by Frank Cottrell Boyce, the writer behind the most popular recent display of British cultural values, the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London. “The UK enjoys a level of influence and soft power well beyond its economic or military weight. This is due almost entirely to the BBC,” Boyce told the Observer. “It speaks for the nation, in a way that HBO or Warner Brothers could never dream of speaking for America. And when the BBC speaks, what does it say? It says Doctor Who, Top Gear, In Our Time, Today, Strictly, Poldark, Cash in the Attic, Horizon, David Attenborough, Graham Norton … which translates as: here is a nation that is at ease with itself – innovative, creative, fun, serious, able to question itself and celebrate itself, diverse, eccentric and beautiful.” Cottrell Boyce also argued that the “range of tones and ideas” embodied by the BBC formed a sense of national identity and provided the varied voice that politicians often claim Britain needs to defeat extreme ideologies and terrorism. “We are always hearing we need a ‘counter-narrative’ to the threats that surround us,” he writes. “Where would that narrative come from, how would it be projected, if not by us as a nation, through our mouthpiece, the BBC?”

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This is the tiny computer the BBC is giving to a million kids

The BBC Micro moniker is already familiar to many in the UK, having been used for a series of machines designed by Acorn Computers and released in the country during the 1980s. The comparatively cheap computers helped thousands learn programming skills, and played a part in kickstarting the British video games industry, as coders designed increasingly elaborate console games in their bedrooms. Rocks references the original BBC Micro in describing the scope of the new project. “As the Micro Bit is able to connect to everything from mobile phones to plant pots and Raspberry Pis,” she says, “this could be for the internet-of-things what the BBC Micro was to the British gaming industry.”

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Hashtag named UK children’s word of the year #important

#interesting? #greatnews? #aaaaaaaargh? Regardless of your opinion, there is no getting away from the ubiquity of hashtag – today named children’s word of the year. An annual analysis of Radio 2’s 500 Words short story competition reveals the huge increase in the creative use of the word among the under-13s, with hashtag moving from being a Twitter search term to a device for adding comment and emphasis in stories. Oxford University Press analysed 120,421 entries to the competition to unearth insights into the lives of British children and the ways they use English.

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Poo bus breaks wind to set land speed world record

A bus powered by cow manure has set a land speed record in the UK. The biomethane-fueled “Bus Hound” hit a lap speed of 76.785 mph around a test circuit in Bedford — the fastest time recorded for a regular bus. As reported by BBC News, the Bus Hound is usually in service in the town of Reading in southeast England, but mechanics removed its speed limiter (usually set to 56 mph) to see how fast it could go.

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