“There are huge opportunities ahead,” John Whittingdale, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, told the Creative Industries Council summer reception earlier this week, “but I need you to tell me what they are.”
Whittingdale was trying to lift any Brexit induced gloom. Seeking to protect the interests of the creative industries in future EU relations, the post-referendum world should not wholly be about protecting what we’ve got. Instead, he argues, it will be possible to do and achieve things impossible within the EU.
While being clear that he is not seeking change to the film tax credit, he noted that this was initially blocked by Brussels. There will no more of that in future. Whittingdale was clear that his door is open to well-evidenced cases for how tax incentives can improve creative industry performance, and more generally, to understand how the opportunities of the UK’s post-EU future can be seized.
You’d think, however, that if the opportunities ahead are so huge, Whittingdale wouldn’t be so dependent on industry to flag them up; they’d be much more screamingly apparent. Maybe, to Whittingdale, they are and he was just deferring to the wisdom of industry, eager to demonstrate, to the great and the good that were present, how open his ears are to them. The Creative Industries Council, after all, is all about partnership between government and industry. The strategy launched at the reception, “is a roadmap for industry and government to help the creative industries continue to grow over the next five years.”
Presumably, much of this was written before the EU referendum. Whether it will require rewriting, either in a defensive spirit of holding what we now have with the EU, or in a more adventurous spirit of grasping new opportunities beyond the EU, this will become apparent over coming months as the Council continues its work. In either case, Whittingdale insists, DCMS will be listening to the industry.