It’s tempting to think of creative tech as a modern phenomenon, but in truth it’s nothing new. Fact is, the development of new technology has always gone hand-in-hand with the creative urge to explore what it can do.
The motivation for creatives to pick up new tech and use it to create new work or find new ways of storytelling hasn’t really changed since prehistoric humans first fashioned a crude paintbrush and started painting on cave walls. It’s the core impulse in the creative brain; “what happens if I take that and do this?”
This is a symbiotic relationship. As creatives, we need tech to find new ways to tell stories or connect with our audience. In turn, new technology tools or platforms need creative content producers to show the world what technology can do. This moves beyond creative experimentation – there are real business opportunities here, including opportunities to move into entirely new markets.
Take Virtual Reality (VR) as one example. Without great creative content, who would bother to buy a headset? And how many major new creative businesses will spring up or evolve thanks to the opportunities this provides – from creating consumer entertainment products to new ways of engaging with healthcare, transport or infrastructure?
Creative innovation doesn’t just happen by accident.
In almost every case, the starting point comes in forging interesting connections and collaborations between often diverse businesses, or types of businesses. It’s this approach that leads to the kind of ground-breaking work that we’re now seeing from some of Britain’s leading creative and cultural organisations. For example, Royal Shakespeare Company are partnering with Imaginarium and Intel on a new production of The Tempest, harnessing motion capture technology used in big-budget feature films for a live theatrical performance; National Theatre’s Immersive Storytelling Studio are partnering with Accenture and pioneering the narrative potential of VR; and University College London are partnering with Deutsche Telecom and game designers, Glitchers, to produce a mobile game that has generated more than 10,000 years of lab research for Alzheimer’s Research UK.
The UK’s creative and cultural industries have a well-earned reputation at the forefront of innovation, generating a massive £87.4bn a year to the UK economy. If the creative industries are to continue to thrive in the UK, it is essential that our policymakers in government continue to innovate just as fast as we do. New technologies and new business models require new legislation to remove any barriers to trade, whether through IP law, employment regulation, freedom of movement, tax and tax breaks, skills and education policy or international trade tariffs.
From the moment we launched as a professional fighting force for the creative and cultural industries, the Creative Industries Federation has engaged with government and political parties of all hues. Never has this been more important than now, with the government negotiating new terms of international trade and drafting a new industrial strategy, with the creative industries as one of its five key pillars.
As we move into a new era of international trade, post-Brexit, what can we do to make sure our industries remain at the bleeding edge of innovation?
Making connections between individuals and organisations across the wide spectrum of creative and cultural industries is essential to drive future innovation and growth in the creative industries. Also, nobody can deny the importance of being in the right place at the right time. The trick is in predicting exactly where and when this is.