The coronavirus pandemic has hit the creative industries hard, particularly as the sector is dominated by smaller organisations that are increasingly vulnerable to economic downturns and uncertainty.
For policymakers, at local and central levels, who may wish be able to offer support to the creative and digital sectors, they first have to understand more about the current circumstances, challenges and opportunities facing the sector.
In order to provide this insight to policymakers, Nesta: Policy Evidence Centre (PEC) has funded a team of researchers from the University of Central Lancashire, alongside partners Creative Lancashire, Digital Lancashire and Arts Lancashire. The intention is to help policymakers design practical support that can have an impact across the sector.
The project focuses on three areas:
- The size and scope of Lancashire’s Creative Industries,
- The impact of COVID
- How place based approaches and creative clusters can support the economic development of Lancashire’s Creative Industries.
A key part of the project is to investigate how the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted upon Lancashire’s Creative and Digital sectors. Although some creative businesses have been largely unaffected or have managed to adapt their products and services, many have not been so fortunate, and have been trading at lower capacity, with consequent tensions around liquidity and cash flow.
The survey aims to understand how creative firms have responded to the immediate shock and how effective the existing support (introduced by both national and local policymakers) has been to the sector. It will examine the extent to which those working in the sector expect these changed economic circumstances to be a temporary or more permanent state of affairs, and consequently provide the evidence base for policy makers to best support the creative digital sector as they recover, rebuild and redefine creativity in the region.
In order to achieve these objectives, the project has three parts: Firstly, a survey intended to identify the main issues facing the sector as a whole, followed by interviews and case studies which can look at specific issues raised in more detail. The intention is to draw on the experiences of creatives during lockdown and focus on motivations and perceptions of networks and clusters and how place-based approaches, supply chains and the support of anchor institutions can facilitate the development of creative clusters in region.
The results of the project will be presented in a report to Nesta (PEC), and will feed into policy consideration at national level, and to the Lancashire Economic Partnership (LEP) at local level, to help in the formulation of local practical support for creative business and those working in the sector. Our findings will additionally be summarised on the Creative Lancashire website and presented via a webinar to Lancashire creative community.
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Dr Adrian Wright, Professor Philip Whyman and the project team