Can the creative industries help restart the economy?

Lights, camera, benefaction.

Our friends at Olsberg SPI – the creative industries strategy consultancy – have published a fascinating report which illustrates how the screen production industry could play an instrumental role in post-Covid economic recovery.

The argument is sound: direct economic benefit (effectively production costs) from the industry were $177bn globally in 2019. But that only accounts for around two fifths of the overall economic benefit, Olsberg estimates. Last year, the industry supported or indirectly contributed to 14m jobs, and $414bn into global coffers.

Our offices, when we can use them, are in Gray’s Inn in central London. It, and other nearby locations, are popular sites for filming: you’ll have seen them in everything from The Children Act to Oliver. When cast and crew descend, for some weeks at a time, cafes, barbers, supermarkets, and numerous other businesses benefit from the increased activity. A study on one (very high budget) film showed that an additional $10m per week was being spent in the locality. In now largely deserted city centres, their presence would be particularly keenly felt.

Amanda Nevill – CEO of the BFI for 17 years until stepping down this year, and now an adviser to Olsberg – talked in our Business People podcast this month about watching the credits at the end of a film: “all of those credits are individuals who have jobs, and what is so fantastic about our industry  is… there is a job for every skill imaginable: from marketing and finance, to nail technicians, hair, drivers, caterers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians.”

The magic of screen production is that it can be rapidly deployed and make its positive impact quickly. The UK government has talked about

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