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With the creative industry set to lose more than 406,000 jobs and nearly £74 billion in revenue, what’s next for the sector?

Brett Riley-Tomlinson


female graphic designer in the creative industry

With the creative industry set to lose more than 406,000 jobs and nearly £74 billion in revenue, what’s next for the sector?

A new report written by Oxford Economics has predicted the UK’s creative industries will be hit twice as hard as the wider economy by the effects of Covid-19. The result being: 1 in 5 jobs within the creative sector will be lost.

As the owner of a digital marketing agency, I have seen firsthand what has happened to the creative industry since lockdown began. As a company we lost practically all of our clients; we’ve had to heavily diversify to survive and thrive again. 

Prior to the crisis, the creative industry had been growing at five times the rate of the wider economy, contributing over £111.7 billion to the economy and employing over 2 million people. This means that, by the end of 2020, as an industry, we will have lost over half our income. 

Caroline Norbury, CEO of the Creative Industries Federation, said in a statement: ‘Our creative industries have been one of the UK’s biggest success stories, but what today’s report makes clear is that, without additional government support, we are heading for a cultural catastrophe. If nothing is done, thousands of world-leading creative businesses are set to close their doors, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost and billions will be lost to our economy. The repercussions would have a devastating and irreversible effect on our country. 

‘We urgently need a Cultural Renewal Fund for those in the creative sector who will be hit hardest, including those industries who will be latest to return to work, those businesses unable to operate fully whilst maintaining social distancing and those creative professionals who continue to fall through the gaps of government support measures. We must also avoid a cliff-edge on vital measures such as the Job Retention Scheme and the Self Employed Income Support Scheme, which have been a financial lifeline for many parts of the creative industries and cannot be cut off overnight.   

‘It’s time to both imagine and engineer our future. We will need our creative industries to do that. They are too important to ignore.’

So, what does the future hold for the creative industry? The truth is, nobody knows. It’s going to be a difficult road ahead for all of us. Already, as an industry, our wages are one of the lowest in relation to the amount of work that we do.

However, being creative means just’re creative. As a company, we’ve already come up with new ways to generate income and started to specialise in the areas we know our clients need help with, post lockdown.

Often, in times of crisis, marketing is the first area to be stood down in any company, yet it’s marketing that puts you in front of the masses. During a crisis, you should invest more in your marketing. Your ad spend goes further, too, because fewer people spend money. 

We’ve seen an incredible drop in the ‘cost per 1000’ reach on Facebook. We’re already utilising this to our advantage and on behalf of our clients. We’ve also launched the news arm of the business, which creates articles like this, with the sole purpose of raising brand awareness through SEO for ourselves and our clients. 

I believe that, as an industry, we will rapidly adapt to the current challenges by diversifying. Some marketing agencies will do the opposite and specialise in specific areas whilst others may well enter a completely different market. Some marketing entrepreneurs may hoover up businesses that are currently being sold for next to nothing, with the intent to use their marketing prowess to rapidly grow them. 

As easy as it is to wallow in self-pity, we are the masters of innovation. We have nothing to lose, and that’s why I’m sure it won’t be long before we see some amazing things happening within the industry.

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