Creative Informatics and the Edinburgh Futures Institute (University of Edinburgh) (CRF0035): Written Evidence for the House of Lords Communications and Digital Select Committee inquiry “A creative future”

Nicola Osborne, Caroline Parkinson, Chris Speed, Melissa Terras, Michael Smyth, Candace Jones, Ruth Oliver

Research output: Other contribution

Abstract / Description of output

In this response we address the seven questions posed by the Communications and Digital Committee drawing on the authors experience of supporting innovation, particularly innovation around data and data driven innovation and technologies, in the creative and cultural industries.

In response to Question 1, we briefly summarise key trends around both positive and negative disruption currently and over the next 5-10 years, and then discuss in more detail several key areas of disruption, notably AI, machine learning and shifts in the screen industries use of technology. We also discuss emergent changes to business models and towards the ‘creator economy’.

In response to Questions 2 and 3, we discuss the skills needs of the creative sector, and the opportunities and barriers around these, particularly drawing on our work delivering the Creative Informatics programme and using research and development as a framework for skills development. Our observations cover both formal arts and creative education contexts and the role of continuous professional development – and the inaccessibility of the latter, particularly creatives in freelance and SME contexts. We particularly emphasise the need for enabling creatives to gain the critical skills and confidence to continuously upskill and work collaboratively, recognising the pace of technological change, rather than recommending specific technical or professional skills offers.

In response to Question 4, we elaborate on the skills discussion, exploring how industry might better support the talent pipeline through research and development projects, particularly those embracing collaboration and risk. We recommend ongoing engagement with academic research and knowledge transfer opportunities in this context – drawing on our own experience of working with the creative sector.

In response to Question 5, we talk in more depth about the Creative Informatics programme, our learning from it, and we include a wide range of testimonials from participation in funded creative data research and development projects and associated training. These testimonials speak to the lived experiences and positive impacts on participants’ businesses, creative practice, entrepreneurial capacity, and the sustainability of their creative careers.

In response to Questions 5a and 6, we provide focused reflections and recommendations around the efficacy of government support for the sector, particularly focusing on the benefits of several landmark funding programmes to date but also reflecting on the risk of short/medium-term initiatives coming to an end. We discuss the network and capacity building in such initiatives, and the importance of continuity of funding and support to avoid cycles of repeated work and lost connections. We also highlight the current financial uncertainty facing the sector around government support, at a time when a number of these key successful initiatives are drawing to a close.

Finally, in response to question 7, we highlight exemplar initiatives from other countries. We highlight several large scale and long-term EU investments in the creative and cultural industries, which are providing a longer runway to sustainable communities around creative innovation. We also highlight some specific project examples that nurture rich collaboration across creative, scientific and technology areas, leading to innovative new work.

We close this submission with a list of additional resources, research publications and reports which we believe the Committee may find useful and relevant to this Inquiry. All of these are publicly accessible but we also to send copies of these under separate cover to the Committee for convenience of access.
Original languageEnglish
TypeWritten Evidence to House of Lords Communications and Digital Inquiry: A Creative Future?
Media of outputWritten Submission (PDF)
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2022


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