The Eight Great Creative Practices

Posted on: 08/11/2016

The UK is renowned for its strengths in the creative industries but what might be the greatest creative practices?

The creative industries are underpinned by eight great creative practices that can help to generate new products and applications across the economy.

The UK is renowned for its strengths in the creative industries with the most recent government data showing that the sector now has a workforce of 1.7 million, representing 5.6% of all employment and growing three times faster than the economy as a whole. When it comes to the ‘creative economy’, and those creative professionals employed in other sectors (for instance designers working in the automobile industry), it is thought to account for some 2.6 million employees.

This is important not just because of its direct size, but also because having a strong and dynamic creative sector is vital for the country as a whole. Creative businesses develop products based on processes distinct from other industries, combining skills and insights derived from arts and humanities disciplines and while this is increasingly acknowledged with design, it encompasses a much wider range of expertise. Discussions around the creative economy should therefore go beyond employment figures and attempt to capture the full range of interactions that foster innovation and growth.

In 2012 the government published its ‘eight great technologies’, along with a programme of significant R+D investment. Ranging from big data to regenerative medicine, these are supporting technologies recognised as particular UK strengths, and with the scope to generate new products and applications across the economy.

For the UK to truly reach its economic potential, it will be necessary to maximise the capabilities and impact of both its technological and creative sectors. We need something analogous, the ‘eight great creative practices’ that provide a focus for public and private support – investment, but also far greater understanding and connecting across the economy as a whole. The following, while by no means reflecting the full richness of creative practice, are all suggested as being particularly vital:

  • Performance: staging or presenting ideas, to test concepts, stimulate response and bring to market
  • Human-centred design: developing products in a personalised way, focused around consumers, citizens and users
  • Craftsmanship: shaping materials to the highest quality and integrity, giving physical form to ideas
  • Storytelling: using narrative techniques to generate and bring to life projects and ideas
  • Branding: communicating the essence of a product or idea in a compelling way, and across a range of media
  • Visualisation: presenting concepts, information and proposals using images, diagrams and visual metaphors
  • Curation: organising material for projects and ideas to facilitate different perspectives
  • Improvisation: Stimulating feedback, reviewing and re-thinking ideas

All of the above have the capacity, especially when allied to digital technologies, to add enormous value and competitiveness to industrial sectors, be it healthcare, retail or transport. At the same time, they have a major role to play in addressing key societal challenges such as sustainability, the ageing population and urban living. The creative talent, expertise and knowledge are all there, partly as a result of sustained public investment and world-class institutions, but it needs to be grown, supported and applied across the economy. A major element of the KTN’s programme will therefore be to work closely with industry and public agencies to further understanding of how this can be achieved, and to help make it happen at a much greater scale.

Tom Campbell – Specialist, Creative Industries


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