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Researching London's cultural industries

Which is London's second most important industrial sector after financial services? Which major industry is the number one contributor to export earnings in the US?

Answer: The cultural industries

The cultural industries have been the dark horse of the economy, appearing as if from nowhere to take a central place in our economic as well as cultural life. What makes 'industries' like film, TV, computer games, publishing, theatre, music, advertising, architecture and design tick? Are they as good as they can be, or could they do better? Why do they locate where they do? What are the impacts of globalisation or digitisation?

These are questions being examined in more detail in a seminar series jointly run by Dr Andy Pratt, senior lecturer in human geography at LSE, and Professor Paul Jeffcut of the Centre of Creative Industries at Queen's University in Belfast.

This month [March] the Cultural Industries Seminar Network series held at LSE gained new funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB) which will enable another three seminars to run until 2006. The series is currently funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and is administered by LSE.

Dr Pratt said: 'The cultural industries sector is chronically under-researched compared to its social, cultural and economic impact. In part it is the Cinderella syndrome and simple prejudice. Some academics and commentators think that it's not real work, thus research on this topic is not well respected or rewarded. This seminar series will seek to change such opinions.

'We need to know how these industries work, and what relationships they have to the rest of the economy and society. This requires detailed analysis. In the past we have done this work for other drivers of the economy - steel, mining, oil and vehicle production. Now we need to turn our attention to the cultural industries.'

Technically the cultural industries are very difficult to measure. However, recent studies, either carried out by Andy Pratt, or using his cultural industries production system framework, have shown that the cultural industries make a substantial contribution in terms of employment, export earnings and to social exclusion in many developed economies. Due to the pace of change within these industries, new theories, concepts, data measures and methods of evaluation need to be found if research is to keep up with developments.

Dr Pratt added: 'Funding from the ESRC has been invaluable but the AHRB's support is academically as well as financially significant as it will bring together researchers from across the disciplines of arts and humanities with those of the social sciences, creating an interdisciplinary debate into the creative industries.'

Ends

Contact:

  • Dr Andy Pratt on 020 7955 7588 or email: a.c.pratt@lse.ac.uk
  • Vicky Hoad, LSE Press Offfice, on 020 7955 7066

Notes

The cultural industries are variously known as the creative, copyright or entertainment industries in different parts of the world. Whilst there are important analytical differences between these terms that are important for precise measurement and research, generally they refer to the same broad area of the economy.

Dr Pratt is a leading researcher in the cultural industries of the US, Europe and Japan. His definition has been taken up and used by national and regional agencies in the UK and internationally and he is working on an international comparative measure of employment in the cultural industries. As well as general studies of the impact of the cultural industries, he has also carried out detailed analysis of the new media, film, TV, advertising and music industries. He has acted as advisor to the Department of Culture, Music and Sport, the Arts Council, the Greater London Authority, South East Regional Development Agency, Scottish Enterprise, North West Regional Development Agency; plus the European Audio Visual Laboratory, the European Commission, the City of Barcelona and Region of Catalunya, the Hong Kong SAR, and the UN Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

The first seminar took place at LSE on 15 December 2003 and a second will be held in Belfast on 15 March 2004 with four more already planned in locations across the country. The AHRB's support will fund an additional three seminars. The seminar participants include academics, national and regional policy makers. The first seminar included speakers from the UK Film Council and the London Development Agency; the second will include academics from UCLA, Los Angeles, USA and Bonn, Germany.

9 March 2004

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