Posts Tagged 'statistics'

Mixed news for Scotland’s creative and high tech industries

The latest analysis of the UK’s creative and high-tech economy by NESTA (‘The Geography of the UK’s creative and high tech economies’ ) aims, amongst other things, to apply a more rigorous set of definitions to creative occupations/industries and to develop the distinction set out in their earlier report between the jobs and value added of the creative industries (those industries which have high proportion of creative jobs and e.g deliver creative content directly to the public) and the wider creative economy (which contains lots of creative jobs in non-creative industries). As importantly the report looks at the geographical trends in the creative economy and it’s here where warning signs for Scotland emerge.  As we’ve noted before (see june 2014 post) Scotland’s level of creative employment is in the mid range (6.4% of Scotland total employment) of  the UK’s nations and regions,  above Wales (5.7%) and Northern Ireland (5.3%) but below the South West (7.6%) and Eastern (8.4%) regions and of course London (15.5%) and the South East (10.7%).

The real issue however is that  creative employment is, if these figures are accurate, declining in Scotland while it is growing nearly everywhere else, both in the wider creative economy (down 1% in Scotland, up 4.3% across the UK 2011-13) and in the specifically creative industries (down 0.8 % in Scotland while up 5.0% across the UK). And this isn’t, for once, due to the ‘London effect’.  The highest growth rates are not in London but  in the Eastern (9.3% in Creative Economy, 11.5% in Creative Industries) , West Midlands (8.2% and 11.8% ) and North East regions (56% and 9.8%).

There’s better news from the high-tech economy where Scotland is leading growth at 5.1% compared to the UK average of 2.1% and ahead of even London (4.5%).  The NESTA study goes on to look at the intersection of the creative with the high tech economy and the analysis reinforces the  divergence of Scotland from the rest of the UK.  Whereas in the rest of the UK creative industries are growing faster (4.3%) than high-tech industries (2.1%) in Scotland the opposite is true. At the ‘sub-regional’ level (in Scottish terms = ‘regional’) it comes as no surprise that Glasgow and Edinburgh have higher levels of employment in the creative economy relative to other kinds of jobs.  The ‘Location Quotient’ ( the relative proportion of creative jobs in the region where 1.0 would be no different  to the national proportion) gives Glasgow and Edinburgh more than 1.2 and the rest of the country less than 1.0 and mostly less than 0.8.  (Edinburgh comes out particularly highly (7th in the UK) when creative and high-tech jobs are taken together.)

What does it all mean and why does it matter?  Well given employment in the UK creative economy is growing at 4.3% per annum, 3.6 times faster than the UK workforce as a whole (1.2% per annum) Scotland is losing out on almost all of these new jobs, compensated for by doing very well in the high-tech sector (5.1% p.a.) which across the UK is growing at a more modest 2.1%.  If we could secure even half the high-tech sector level growth in Scotland’s creative industries – say 2.5% we could add around 4,000 jobs a year.

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Sunshine on Leith and Filth zoom into all time Scottish top ten

The latest and, as ever, fascinating annual statistical handbook from the BFI allows the elves here at The Producer’s Cut to update the all-time top Scottish films at the UK Box office (NB Adjusted for inflation) with not one but two films making it into the list from 2013.  Not surprisingly perhaps Sunshine on Leith and Filth, having briefly occupied the number 2 and 3 spots at the UK box office in 2013 have quickly joined the all time Scottish top ten at number 4 and 6 respectively.  Trainspotting remains the undisputed top dog with 25% of the total box office garnered by the ten films and indeed all but one of the top five films are from the 1990s.  Inevitably the definition of ‘Scottish’ used here is subjective – both Rob Roy and Last King of Scotland could be ruled out on production origin terms (as could even Mrs Brown for that matter) but allowing for that caveat we can see that there’s no real pattern to the best-selling Scottish movies other than that from thrillers to a musical they managed to strike a chord with the film-going public.

 

UK Box Office £ (adjusted for inflation)
Trainspotting (1996) 12,331,224
The Last King of Scotland (2006) 5,680,951
Shallow Grave (1995) 5,101,342
Sunshine on Leith (2013) 4,600,000
Rob Roy (1995) 4,352,000
Filth (2013) 3,900,000
This Year’s Love (1999) 3,600,636
Mrs Brown (1997) 2,647,037
Magdalene Sisters (2002) 2,138,934
The Angels Share (2012) 1,928,376
Total 46,280,500

Goodness knows we’re not so miserable now

Scottish filmmakers have routinely been accused of indulging in ‘miserablism’, a critique levied in recent times by a wide range of people from film-makers themselves and policy pundits in Scotland to journalism students in London and critics in New York (and back in 2000 to boot).  It is is a charge which has some basis if portraying poverty, drug abuse or crime necessarily equates to ‘miserablism’ (though this is a crude equation in itself) but does it overstate the case and ignore the diversity of Scottish film? Indeed does the seeming dominance of such stories perhaps tell us more about the relative success, in the UK/Global cinematic division of labour, of Scottish films with a hard edge rather than necessarily reflecting their share of what is produced?  The boffins here at screen facts central have turned the handle to see what the numbers tell us and they may come as a surprise to some of our less evidence-based commentators though perhaps not David Archibald whose piece on recent Scottish Films persuaded the FT subs to go against the usual headline grain.

The graph below (based on films that had or were intended for theatrical release) shows that while ‘Drama’ remains the top genre throughout the period from 1990 to now, comedy has significantly increased its presence from 10% in the 1990s to 29% in the current decade so far.  Allowing for the fact that some films designated (using IMDB categories) as romance could be labelled comedy and vice versa if we aggregate those two comedy/romance really took off in the 2000s moving from 13% in the 90s to 22% in the 2000s and 29% now.

Scottish Film genre 1990 to 2013

THE X FACTOR

The graph tells most of the story but one aspect it doesn’t is the apparent big increase in the proportion of 18 certificate films which by definition exclude a large chunk of potential audience members by virtue of their more graphic depictions of violence and/or explicit sex.  The relevant figures are

1990s  29 films  of which 31% (9) 18cert

2000s 50 films  of which 18% (9) 18cert

2010-13 21 films of which 33% (70) 18 cert

Of course we are only four years into the decade so things may look different in a few years’ time but for now perhaps the commentariat will be little less prone to reaching for the miserablism tag.  We shall see!

Norwegian film another Nordic screen success story

Scots have been looking enviously at Denmark’s film industry for some time.  A recent Scotsman comment piece was just the latest in a long line (dating back to 1938- see earlier post) of unfavourable comparisons between the Danes’ generous and joined up support for film and Scotland’s historically piecemeal and underfunded attempts to get more Scottish films on our and everyone else’s screens.

But Denmark isn’t the only Nordic country that takes film as seriously as the Danes.  Across the North Sea in Norway (population 4.7m) they don’t just have a national film fund (established in 2001)  they have six (yes SIX) regional film funds which add up to a cool €60m euro annual investment in film, tv, games and animation.  That goes some way to explaining the 25 films (average over 2007-12) they release each year (so that doesn’t even count those made but not distributed) and the 20% average market share they have enjoyed over the past five years.  So not quite as good as the Danes at 25% but compared to Ireland at just under 2% or Scotland at less than 1% it’s certainly enough to give us something to think about.  (While we’re at it European films’ share of the overall European market is on the rise and reached its high point last year, in no small part due to Skyfall it has to be said but also, more interestingly, the success of France’s Untouchable, the most successful non-English production of all time.)

With numbers like those above to build on, the Norwegian Film Institute weren’t indulging in boosterism or wishful thinking when they set out to ‘internationalise’ their industry in their 2012-15 plan.  This year they allocated around €1.5m in support to marketing of Norwegian films including €400K earmarked specifically to support presence at international markets and festivals.  Indeed back in 2000 an influential Government Green Paper concluded that:

Norway’s cinema system worked well as precisely a mixture of commercial and cultural interests, but underlined that a stronger, more directed national cinema policy was needed to secure the operations of this system.”  (quoted in Caroline Strutz Skei fascinating  Thesis Hollywood In Norway ).

Astute readers may object at this point that with a GDP 2.5 times Scotland’s its easy for the Norwegians to throw money at film and anything else they fancy.  Perhaps so but the fact remains that like most other European countries, at 0.012% they choose to spend a considerably higher % of GDP than we do at either a UK (0.0033%) or even more so a Scottish (0.003%) level.  (Denmark, whose GDP is only 50% higher than Scotland’s, spends 0.02% of GDP on film i.e. 6.6x as much), indeed they spend more in absolute terms than the Norwegians, despite a considerably lower GDP.

All well very well you might think but beyond their home turf are Norwegian films making any head way with audiences and critics abroad?  Oh yes they are.  Following last year’s Palm Springs win and Best Foreign Film Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Kon Tiki (Norway’s most expensive film to date), so far this year twelve films have been selected for A list festivals including Venice, Toronto and San Sebastian with five in official selection at Berlin alone.

Meanwhile at the UK box office Headhunters, a Norwegian/German co-production was the second highest grossing foreign language film in the UK after Untouchable, taking a respectable £1.44m (which put in perspective equals or exceed the UK Box office for The Imposter, The Wedding Video or Coriolanus).

Regular readers will be well aware that one hit doesn’t mean we’re about to experience a Viking film invasion along the lines of the current Nordic TV expeditionary force however their consistent investment and support to grow a domestic film industry is making raiding expeditions on the international market easier and more likely to pay off.  The growing success of Norwegian film at home and abroad is a salutary reminder that there is no recorded instance of a small (or indeed a large) country securing a consistent share of the international audience (on  big, small or portable screens) that hasn’t first built its own domestic share.  More on that anon.

Scottish film in the 21st Century (Part 1) More women, more international but remaining stubbornly middle aged

As promised the statistical elves were hard at work over the winter holidays continuing to pour over three decades of feature filmmaking in Scotland to see what trends they could find in some of the less well explored but no less important aspects of our national cinema.  What they found is reassuring in some respects – more women directors, more international co-productions and more first time directors (just) – but less so in others – it’s still an agonisingly long wait to direct a first feature for example.

First up, three decades of concerted effort to nurture ‘new talent’ and expand production has certainly produced more debut features: three times as many in the 2000s as in the 1980s (though a distinct drop from the ‘high watermark’ decade of the 1990s).  But despite much talk of nurturing ‘young film-makers’, the average age of first time feature directors remains stubbornly above forty (although it did dip slightly in the 1990s) suggesting that it is no easier to acquire the credibility that unlocks investment now than it was twenty tears ago.

Gender-wise things have certainly improved since the 1980s (they couldn’t get any worse!) such that by the ‘noughties’ 30% of first time directors were women but that leaves plenty of room for improvement.  As for ethnicity, well suffice it to say that out of around 150 films only Nina’s Heavenly Delights (2006) can truly claim to have foregrounded an ethnic minority community in its narrative, one directed by Londoner Pratiba Parmar.

Total number of features Number of debut features (%) Median Age* No. (%) by women directors No (%) which are co-productions
1980s 19 11 (58%) 40 0     (0%) 0 (0%)
1990s 84 13 (15%) 38.5 3   (23%) 4 (5%)
2000s 52 32 (62%) 43 10 (31%) 19 (37%)

* – median age based on those directors for whom date of birth information was available.

However, the most dramatic change evident is the proportion of films which are co-productions, having risen from zero in the eighties to 37% in the noughties, (almost without exception all of these co-produced with other European countries).  This is consistent with the general trend towards co-production in Europe arising from the growth of soft-monies, location incentives, risk-exchange across territories. And it no doubt also reflects a greater level of international awareness and stronger networks amongst producers here and across the North and Irish Seas.  (Something which is now part of the aspiring producer’s curriculum at our very own Screen Academy Scotland for example).  Over the past decade Germany has been easily the most popular partner (10 films) followed by Ireland (4) and Denmark (3).

But the most worrying figure remains simply the total number of features being made. As we have pointed out at length elsewhere there is little to no chance of securing more critically or commercially successful films without an absolute increase in the volume of production.  Thus far the 21st century has seen a reversal of the decade on decade growth evident between the 1980s and the 1990s so we have some ground to make up even to simply match the output of the 1990s.  That will require sustained, increased investment and in part two of this series we look at what the record shows there.

You can count on the creative industries (or what happened to the missing £24bn)

December is the month the busy statisticians in the DCMS release their latest estimates of the size and shape of the UK’s creative industries (CI).  Very useful stuff for policy wonks and arts anoraks like yours truly.  Sadly for those of us doomed to wrestle with SIC and SOC codes, making year-on-year comparisons of  what’s up, what’s down and where is doing better or worse than where else isn’t exactly made easy by the near constant revising of definitions, multipliers, scaling factors and the like.  (To be fair the DCMS do point out that these are experimental stats and they change them in response to feedback from users and in order to make them more fit for purpose, and quite right too).

Less anyone imagines these are just minor technical tweaks  it is worth noting that as a result of the latest changes to the methodology the reported Gross Value Added (GVA) of the UK’s creative industries has plummeted by nearly 50% from £59bn (5.6% of the total) in 2008 to £36bn (2.89%) in 2009!

What this in fact means is that if the current methodology is taken as accurate, the previous statistics were grossly exaggerating the real value of the Creative Industries but we can breathe a sigh of relief as the new figures can be relied on ‘going forwards’.

One of the biggest (and long overdue) revisions concerns the value of software and games which at £26.4bn (46% of the CI total) on the ‘old’ system dwarfed every other sector.  In the new figures, which have stripped out a swathe of ‘non creative’ software consultancy and the like, a more realistic figure of £160m for ‘Digital & entertainment Media’ and £570m for ‘Software and Electronic Publishing’ puts the combined total at 2% of the CI.

So which is UK’s biggest Creative Industry?  Well it may surprise some people to learn that it is Publishing, worth £11.6bn GVA in 2008 and accounting for a third of all CI GVA and almost the same proportion of exports at £2.6bn (in 2009). Advertising comes second at £7bn in 2008 but dropped to £6bn in 2009 as the recession took hold while TV & Radio are in third place at around £5bn.

 

What about Scotland?  Well the full range of data isn’t yet available but a few figures provide some clues as to what may be happening.  Scanning the regional breakdown of registered enterprises (NB this excludes a lot of sole traders) Scotland’s 4,800 creative businesses in 2011, 4.5% of the UK total, have pretty much held steady since 2009.  However there is significant variance by sub-sector with, for example, ‘digital media’ increasing by 100% and advertising by 11% while publishing was down 13% and software down 17%.  However these changes can be misleading: an increase in the number of businesses can mean a lot of new start-ups following the closure of a major employer.  Until we see the Scottish breakdown of turnover and GVA we won’t know.

Closer to home the statistical elves are working away on the past ten years of Lottery and other investment in Scotland’s screen sector and we will be analysing that in the New Year.  Happy Solstice!

Counting the Creative Industries (or why South Lanarkshire is the creative economy capital of Scotland)

Delving into the employment and industry statistics for Scotland is a revealing and at times surprising enterprise.  Who would have thought that the Scottish district showing the greatest proportional increase in people working in ‘Culture, Media and Sport’ would be South Lanarkshire? Back in 2004 some 800 people (0.3% of the total population) were counted in that category but by last year the figure had risen an impressive 175% to 2,200 (0.7%).  That’s 1,400 new jobs and some 13% of the recorded increase for Scotland as a whole!  (Only Edinburgh surpassed it in absolute terms with an increase of 2,300 jobs, a more modest 42% increase in proportional terms, though better than the all-Scotland 29% increase from 35,800 to 46,200.)

Quite how the home of New Lanark, the UK’s largest museum of country life at Kittochside and Biggar Puppet Theatre, has pulled off this impressive bit of economic development can’t be discerned from the figures but one can’t help wondering if some re-categorisation of employment data may have played a part.

Statistics, as we all know, can easily be made to say what you want them to, particularly if you choose your comparison periods carefully, tweak data definitions and quietly ignore things like adjusting for inflation.  Obtaining reliable comparative data for the Creative Industries at regional, national and international levels is notoriously difficult but utterly essential if meaningful evaluation of cultural and economic policy is to be possible. Similarly, comparing economic and cultural data over extended time series is central to analysing the impact of public policy.

Back in 2005 the Office for National Statistics discovered they had been seriously over-estimating business data covered by SIC (‘Standard Industrial Classification’) Code Division 92: ‘Recreational, Cultural and Sporting Activities’ which ranges from ‘Motion Picture and Video’ to ‘Gambling and Betting’. 

If you didn’t know this then the following table would look rather alarming as it appears to show a pretty catastrophic drop in the Gross Value Added generated by this major part of Scotland’s Creative Industries between 2004 and 2005 (when the data was adjusted).

Scotland Recreational, culture and sporting activities 1998 to 2008 Graph

These sorts of difficulties make getting a handle on how Scotland’s Creative Industries are doing less than straightforward.  The ONS and Scottish Government Annual Business Inquiry tell us (see also Arts and Business report ) that Scottish Creative Industries GVA rose some 84% from £1.3 billion in 1998 to £2.4 billion in 2007.  Employment in the sector is said to have increased over 50% from 38,500 in 1998 to 58,600 in 2007. 

Some interesting trends are revealed when we drill a little further into this data.  For example the sector showing the sharpest increase is Advertising (194%) while Publishing (32%) and Film/Video (32%) appear to be equally in the doldrums, at least according to these figures.  Music and the Visual and Performing Arts appear, by contrast, to be in pretty rude health (176% increase in GVA over the decade).

What if anything should we conclude from this mass of data, potentially unreliable as in some cases it clearly is?  Well one thing we should be looking at is why growth rates are so markedly different across sectors and whether for example, economic policy interventions should prioritize the ‘leaders’, on the basis of building on growing areas or the ‘laggards’, on the basis of correcting market failures or distortions.  Though some sectors (e.g. advertising) are acutely sensitive to cyclical market conditions while others (e.g. film, architecture) can be significantly affected by a few lasrge value projects, there are underlying structural factors – e.g. skills, access to investment and working capital, impact of technology change – that public policy can help to address.

NB: For the avoidance of doubt, as the lawyers say, I am only referring here to considerations of economic policy. There are of course many and varied cultural and social policy reasons to invest in the creative and cultural sector – the complex interplay of these with industrial and economic policy is an issue for (many) other posts here and elsewhere – seefor example Pat Kane’s recent and considered words in the Caledonian Mercury .

Going back to South Lanarkshire, if it really has more than doubled employment in Culture, Media and Sport perhaps the Scottish Creative Industries Partnership (SCIP) ought to pay a visit to see how they did it, particularly as the local Government representative on SCIP is Leader of North Lanarkshire Council!

UPDATE/FLASHBACK: For more on the shifting sands of creative industries re-visit this earlier post https://robinmacpherson.wordpress.com/2010/05/28/how-new-is-the-new-creative-economy-and-is-it-really-shrinking/


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