From Turner and William Blake to Damien Hirst and Banksy, from Edward Elgar and Andrew Lloyd Webber to The Beatles and Freddie Mercury, the list of internationally acclaimed British artists and musicians is endless. And I think it’s safe to say that we all agree that the UK is a global leader in producing creative legends J. As a nation, the UK is creative, innovative and often (amicably) disruptive (which is often a key component in sparking artistic genius) – these are qualities which are engrained in our history and have been nurtured through generations.
The UK’s creative industry has surged in the past decade, and Millenials are at the forefront of leading the boom in the industry and dictating the future direction of the creative industry. The creative industries include advertising, architecture, crafts, design, film, games, publishing, museums/galleries, music, technology and television, and official statistics from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in 2014 showed that the creative industries are worth a whopping £71 billion to the UK economy.
The importance of the creative industries in the UK therefore cannot be underestimated. Creative arts being a core element of education in the UK has fostered and developed artistic talent and flair which has fuelled an industry increasingly responsible for the UK’s international standing. Employment in creative arts is fast exceeding the 5.6% (of all UK jobs) when last reported, and is currently providing over 1.71 million jobs. The industry accounts for 11% of the UK’s exports (take the example of the Natural History Museum’s exhibitions in over 65 countries) and is responsible for more than 10% of the UK’s GDP. The industry has been key in encouraging creative innovation and overcoming private sector reluctance to invest in what they see as ‘risky’ projects (did you know that the commercial success of War Horse was inspired from puppetry on show at the Battersea Arts Centre?), and is also associated with around 10 million inbound visits to the UK from tourists engaging with arts and culture (that equates to a huge 32% of all visits to the UK!). Furthermore, the creative industries are key to the success of the creative IT and software businesses, and as we continue to progress in a tech-dominated world, benefits to other associated industries will continue to be seen.
It is the responsibility of Millenials and their future generations to keep this creative boom going. In 2014, the Creative Industries Council launched CreateUK (the first ever industry-led project to ensure growth and secure further jobs in the creative arts industry in the UK and internationally), and public funding of arts and culture is now a hot topic of contention. The UK is set to continue to be the leading global hub for creative industries in decades to come, and the industry will serve as a vital catalyst for economic regeneration of the UK.
A quote of common contention is whether Winston Churchill, when asked to cut arts funding in favour of the war effort, simply replied “Then what are we fighting for?”. Whether or not this quote is accurate is not the debating point; its value lies in evoking dialogue and initiating action on addressing the importance of creative arts to the UK’s history and future.
For further resources for those setting up their own creative arts business:
A mere 20 years ago (and excluding any high profile art heists), artists were able to own and protect the fruits of their creativity with relative ease. In an era where the internet was in its infancy and social media did not exist, regulations and laws protecting artists’ creative works reflected the undeveloped and conventional type of creative theft which existed at the time – namely, physical art heists, or instances of artistic plagiarisation by hand.
Fast forward to 2015: creative theft has grown into a complex breed of its own, yet the regulations and laws which existed 20 years ago have not caught up. Technological advances coupled with the explosion of social media have made copying/pasting and declaring another’s artwork one’s own child’s play. The counterfeit heavyweights have progressed from being mere criminals to now being international operators within a mature illegal market. The availability of free information online, whilst providing education for many, has also armed others with knowledge to exploit loopholes in outdated laws aimed at protecting an artist from 20 years ago. This is why, short of changing the law, artists need to get smart about Intellectual Property (“IP”).
I know - IP is hardly the crowd drawer on a Friday night to get you Party Animal of the Night award. However, the power IP has in protecting artists’ careers (and therefore livehood, and life) should not be underestimated. Just as a singer needs to protect her most important asset (her voice), so should artists with their most important assets (their creativity and end products).
So what is copyright? Copyright (which covers paintings, graphic works, photographs, sculptures, collages) is a form of IP which entitles an artist to certain rights which are solely owned by that artist (amazing, right!?). An artist will be the only person able to say if, how and when his panting can be copied, sold, rented, lent or used or adapted for TV or film. It is this right which is known as ‘copyright’. Straight forward, right? Important? Abso-bloody-lutely. Artists and composers should understand their rights and enforce them when someone uses them without their permission. This is essential in ensuring that the creatives of the world protect their position and value.
So how do you get this ‘copyright’? Copyright protection is automatically given once an idea is put on paper (e.g. a painting or a musical composition). There is no legal process or registration involved (phew!), although it is good practice to put the © symbol along with your name/signature and the year of your creation somewhere. In the UK, copyright lasts for the artist’s lifetime PLUS an additional 70 years after their death (yes, copyright kicks its 99 year leasehold friend’s ass). If at any time during this protection period, someone tries to rip off, copy or use your creation without your permission, you are entitled to take that person to court (NB - as most of us don’t live in the world of Suits, in reality, taking someone to court is an expensive, complex and time consuming process, and the easier route is often to come to a settlement agreement).
At some point in this article, you may have thought: “what about the Logo for my brand – is that protected under Copyright?”. Logos and designs are in fact protected as Trademarks and are different to copyright. But, that’s for another article :)….
For further guidance and information:
Anti- Copyright in Design http://www.acid.uk.com/
DACS (not-for-profit visual artists’ rights management organisation)
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988