When the UK government published its levelling up white paper on Wednesday, it was heralded – by government ministers at least – as a landmark moment in addressing pervasive regional inequalities across the UK.
The scope of the 300-page document is vast, but for those of us interested in creative industries, arts and culture, it will have been a welcome surprise to see more than 100 references to these topics in the report. It’s great to see the government recognise that arts play a crucial role in the life of our nations, towns and cities across the UK.
The contributions of the creative industries benefit both the economy and quality of life for everyone. Research from the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) has demonstrated the opportunity to be found in creative communities from the Shetland Islands to Cornwall, and whilst the white paper does not provide all the answers to how these will be developed, it does at least recognise why these are valuable, both economically and socially. But what does this new vision for the future of the UK mean for creative businesses and workers?
For the creative industries, the levelling up agenda provides some real opportunities. The proposed introduction of regional mayors throughout England (indeed Scotland and Wales already have significant devolved powers through the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments) may give local areas an important lever to help them to come up with local solutions to questions of regeneration and strengthening local identity.