SoA responds to Government green paper on 'Building our Industrial Strategy'

20 April 2017

We welcome the Government's decision to include the creative industries in their future industrial vision, however we have urged them to ensure the environment they work towards is one that supports its creators and innovators, recognising them as the bedrock of successful industry.

The Government has identified the creative industries as one of five 'world-leading sectors' for special attention, as part of their 'Building our Industrial Strategy' green paper. Their aim is to create a strategy that will 'improve living standards and economic growth by increasing productivity and driving growth across the whole country' - we welcome their inclusion of the creative industries as part of that vision.

Our response

The invitation to submit a response on 'Building our Industrial Strategy' offered us an opportunity to impress on Government the key roles that our members play in society, as well as the many challenges that they face in their work in broadcasting, performance, education, the technical sector and many other industries.

We are concerned to ensure that the strategy is wide-ranging and creates an environment which supports creators and fosters imagination, and recognises that innovators are the bedrock of successful industry.

We have recommended that the Government should focus on the following areas:

The creative industries

The creative industries are highly successful growth areas and we believe that they should be explicitly mentioned in the green paper's ten pillars.

Creators and freelance workers

The creative industries depend on creators. Creators are often freelance or work alone and the Government needs to ensure that its support reaches these micro-businesses and helps creators throughout every stage in their careers. Such support would include training opportunities, including digital training, a reasonable tax regime, a fair benefits system, laws on fair contracts, and reduced bureaucracy.

Copyright

A strong copyright regime is essential to all industry (not only the creative industries) to incentivise innovation, encourage investment and allow them to protect and exploit their work. The last few years have seen detailed and rigorous review and debate of copyright legislation both domestically and in Europe. The result for the UK is a legislative framework that is balanced in respecting the rights of users and creators and well able to deal with the complexities of the 21st Century. It is important that we maintain a strong copyright regime, harmonised with the rest of Europe to ensure that we can still export to major markets- and it is important that the rights of creators be supported so they can benefit from their creations and thereby continue to produce innovative, informative and creative works that are in demand worldwide. The SoA therefore urges the UK to continue to follow future EU copyright law and the EU’s Digital Single Market Strategy which represents a significant initiative for UK rightsholders and innovators. Stability for application of existing EU Regulations and transposition of EU Directives which form part of our copyright law must be maintained as part of the Great Repeal Bill.

Contracts and a fair share of reward

Authors need a fair playing field when their work is exploited, in line with the SoA’s CREATOR principles. In particular we urge the Government to enact the provisions in relation to transparency and fairness announced in the Draft Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market (“the Directive”) Articles 14 to 16.

Lifelong learning and the cultural landscape

We need to ensure that broad education is open to all, covering STEM subjects and digital skills, improving literacy and communication skills, teaching creative arts, fostering the imagination, broadening the mind, and encouraging reading for pleasure. Lifelong learning should encompass those subjects and should also assist in business and professional skills. Libraries are key to this.

Certainty and stability

Authors and the UK publishing industry are vitally important to the UK, both in terms of revenues (both internal and export) and cultural significance. We are concerned that there is no current plan in force to replace and maintain our EU markets during Brexit. It is unlikely that exports to USA could ever replace our vital EU markets. We are positive that British creativity and culture will remain in demand; however economic uncertainty is damaging to investment in new projects and distribution opportunities for rights holders and their businesses. Furthermore, economic uncertainty tends to make businesses more conservative and less likely to invest in new talent and ideas, leading to a reduction in cultural diversity. This is extremely concerning, particularly if linked to a closing of our borders to vibrant talent from Europe.

Diversity and inclusivity

We must take steps to open the creative industries more widely and welcome new entrants irrespective of class, race, nationality, age, gender, disability or sexual orientation. Innovation depends on fresh ideas- and to ignore currently under-represented groups, both nationally and internationally, is a waste of talent and potential.

Freedom of movement

Any industrial strategy depends on a free flow and sharing of ideas. The industrial strategy must protect free movement for EU workers already here and UK nationals living abroad. Difficulties in obtaining visas or tax and other barriers, combined with the parochial impression of being out of Europe will create may make Britain a less attractive place for writers, scholars and students to visit or settle in. This is bad for diversity and our cultural heritage which has been shaped and enriched by visitors and settlers from many other cultures and lands. And our own authors will suffer if they are unable to move freely in Europe, losing possibilities for live performance and the links which have enriched so much of our literature.

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