Q&A with John Kampfner

Geraldine Kendall, 14.01.2015
The new Creative Industries Federation aims to be unified voice for the creative sector
Launched in November 2014, the Creative Industries Federation is a new membership body that aims to act as an independent voice for the UK's arts, cultural and creative industries. John Kampfner, the director of the federation, spoke to Museums Journal about what the federation will be focusing on in as it goes forward.

How did the Creative Industries Federation come about and what do you hope it will achieve?

The federation is the brainchild of the designer John Sorrell. The mission is to join up public arts, cultural education and commercial creative companies in a way that has never been done before. By November 2014, over 230 companies, organisations and individuals had pledged their support.

The central objective is to build a national membership body for the UK’s cultural and creative community. We want to ensure that the UK’s creative industries remain leaders in the face of ever increasing global competition.

We are in danger of throwing away our primary position if we are complacent and fail to invest in our public spaces and cultural education. It has never been more important for the UK creative industries to pull together and speak with a single voice.

The idea is to hold ourselves to account and ask questions: are we good enough? Are we creatively supporting each other? Are we doing enough for education, access, diversity? We want to spark debate and encourage critical discussion on issues that affect the whole of the creative industries sector.

What kind of things will you be prioritising in your first year?

We hope to provide a strong and unified voice for the creative industries in terms of advocacy and policy-making in the general election year. We are just launching a consultation process with our members which will help inform the policy proposals we will take to the incoming government.

We are particularly eager to break down the barriers between London and the regions. As part of a varied programme of events we have a series of road shows planned across all the UK’s nations and regions, co-hosted by local partners from the public, private and education sectors.

These will bring the creative industries together and help identify the challenges and opportunities that face the whole of the UK’s creative community.

What challenges do you think you might face in promoting the creative industries to politicians, funders and the public?

A major challenge is changing the widely held view that providing funding for the cultural and creative community is “money out”. We need to start seeing it as a valuable investment in our future. Although it is impossible to deny the significance of the creative industries’ contribution to the economy, it has not always received the recognition it deserves.

This is why our research team is working on the first annual assessment to be presented in 2015. This study will assess relative strengths and weaknesses of UK public arts and culture and commercial creative companies.

From this we hope to build a clear and strong case for the importance of the creative industries’ contribution to the UK. This will help the present and future generations of artists to receive the support that they need in order to thrive.

Given the cuts and upheaval of the past few years, what funding model do you think would work most effectively for the creative industries sector?

In the face of cuts and upheaval we need a combination of public funding, private philanthropy and entrepreneurialism to keep the sector flourishing. Our networking events will allow different organisations to meet and discuss how to develop these skills and ideas.

In general we want to help public arts organisations become more entrepreneurial and help commercial creative companies to share the responsibility for creating a stronger civil society.

How do you plan to engage with your members and make sure their views are heard?

As well as our member consultation and road shows around the UK we are planning a variety of regular events and online networking and feedback opportunities. These initiatives will allow members to make new contacts and voice their concerns and views on both public and private platforms.

For example we will be holding regular policy breakfasts, uniting the largest corporate business with the smallest public organisation to discuss pressing policy issues. This will give our members the chance to engage with people who they wouldn’t normally have the chance to engage with.

A digital platform designed exclusively for our members will also be developed this year to continue the discussion of the UK’s creative life online.