Scotland’s creative industries not ‘understood’ by Westminster

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SCOTLAND’S creative industries are failing to thrive at their full potential because they are ‘poorly understood’ by the UK Government, a leading politician has warned.

Pete Wishart, chair of the Scottish Affairs Committee, said he was “hugely impressed by the talent and ambition” of those working in Scotland but was concerned a lack of understanding meant it was being held back.

He made the comments after the committee carried out an inquiry into the sector north of the border.

The Scottish and UK governments have different definitions of what makes up the creative industries, its report said, adding: “This makes it difficult to understand how effective current policies are or to identify the areas where help is needed.”

Holyrood and Westminster are being urged to work together to help the industry grow.

Mr Wishart. who was a member of the band Runrig, said: “I have been hugely impressed by the talent and ambition of creative professionals in Scotland, and pleased to see the successes they have already had.

“However, I am concerned that the sector is poorly understood by government and, as a result, is not able to thrive as it should.

“At present, the Scottish and UK governments have different definitions of what constitutes the creative sector.

“This makes it difficult to understand how effective current policies are or to identify the areas where help is needed.

“We hope that in the future Holyrood and Westminster will work together to ensure greater clarity and allow further scrutiny.”

The committee wants broadcasters at the BBC and Channel 4 to have more staff responsible for commissioning programmes in Scotland as TV companies north of the border claim they are “disadvantaged by a lack of access to commissioners, who are mostly London-based”.

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A BBC Scotland spokesman said: “We have already said that greater decision-making powers should be devolved to Scotland as well as improving our digital services while we’re reviewing our news output and how we commission across network television.”

Holyrood and Westminster’s different definitions of what makes up the creative industries results in “completely different figures” about the number of people employed in the sector - with the Scottish Government putting the total at 71,000 while the UK Government says it is 102,000, the report added.

It urged the two governments to “work together to establish how a robust assessment of the creative industries in Scotland can be achieved”, which should then be published by December this year.

MPs also said it was “disappointing” that neither government had a clear understanding of how much public cash was spent supporting creative industries in Scotland.

The report is being launched in Dundee, which is home to much of Scotland’s computer games industry.

A spokeswoman for the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport said creative industries in Scotland “make a huge contribution to our culture and economy”, adding the department will continue to work with the Scottish Government to support the sector.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Through our formal role in the current BBC Charter renewal process we are calling for a federalised, or at least decentralised, public service broadcasting model with the real decision making power over commissioning and funding sitting emphatically in Scotland - which will deliver clear and sustainable benefits for our creative sector.”