New Bloomsbury Institute Working Paper focuses on Brexit, Commonwealth and the Creative Industries

Two men talkingNnamdi Madichie and Arif Zaman

One of the more striking moments of the COVID-19 pandemic was when leading musicians far and wide performed for all of us from their homes.

There was much power and poignancy in this event beyond 270 million people coming together and watching the performances during an unprecedented crisis. It was also a potent example of the force of a global sector.

The creative industries has mobilised millions of dollars ($128m for WHO COVID-19 relief) and millions in a global audience, all the more impressive when there are so many competing attractions in this smartphone age.

The latest Bloomsbury Institute Working Paper Series connects this global industry with the fallout and follow through from Brexit, and uses the Commonwealth as a frame of reference to better understand key shifts and trends.

It is the first dedicated Working Paper publication from a Higher Education institution on the creative industries in the Commonwealth.

Bollywood, Bob Marley and the Beatles provide three diverse examples from film and music that have generated significant revenues across the Commonwealth countries of India, Jamaica and the UK and have also helped re-position national brands.

Profound changes are taking place in the global trade landscape, including the technologies and governance frameworks that underpin and support contemporary trade in goods, services and the digital economy.

This dynamic environment presents challenges, and enormous opportunities to expand and deepen trade, investment and innovation among the 54 member countries of a growing Commonwealth community of nations.

This special issue on Brexit, the Commonwealth and the UK Creative Industry covers three main themes:

  1. First, the creative industries concentrated in a small number of locations in the UK. About 53% of employment and 44% of businesses are found in the top five locations (the equivalent percentages in other sectors are 32% and 30% respectively).
  2. Second, that regional rivals should work together to grow their creative industries. Regional creative growth appears not to be a zero-sum game, particularly when it comes to business numbers.
  3. Third, that creative communities are interconnected and the diversity of connections increases over time.

The papers have been selected from outstanding student reports in the 2018/2019 academic year so there is no reference to the current disruption to the global economic environment. Some initial comments in this self-evident VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) world can be found in the opening article by co-editors, Dr. Nnamdi Madichie and Arif Zaman.

The pervasive and dynamic nature of the creative industries becomes clear when looking at the range of sub-sectors covered by companies such as Pearson (publishing), Abbott Mead Vickers (advertising), Universal Music, Sotheby’s (auction), Hawkins/Brown Architects, Alexander McQueen (fashion) and Pinewood Studios (film).

The articles raise several questions around global consumer culture, international business, urbanisation and the creative economy:

  • What will be the impact of digital globalization, especially given that 32 of the Commonwealth’s 54 countries are Small States (eg. Jamaica, Botswana, Fiji and Malta)?
  • Has digitization opened the door for emerging economies, small businesses, and individuals to participate directly in globalisation?
  • How are small businesses worldwide becoming “micromultinationals”? Are we now in a period/phase of de-globalisation if we have seen the rise and fall of an idea that swept the world?
  • How might key urbanisation trends help or hinder trade/ investment?

As the publication went to press, Patricia Scotland, Commonwealth Secretary-General (SG) highlighted implications for the Commonwealth from a (post) COVID-19 world in which she cited the ‘Commonwealth Advantage.’

The advantage enables member states to trade up to 20% more with each other than with non-members, at a 21% lower cost with these countries investing up to 27% more within the Commonwealth than outside of it – almost tripling investment levels five years ago, which stood at 10%.

Against current COVID-19 challenges, Scotland highlighted that flows to sectors such as e-commerce, digital technologies, cybersecurity, healthcare and biotechnologies could shore up, as business migrates online, and countries race to find a vaccine and other medical treatments.

Indeed there are worthy Commonwealth responses in the creative industries being documented in resilience and response to COVID-19 whether in Ghana or the Caribbean (in music or in wider support) even if they do not capture the headlines.

Publication of the this issue of the Bloomsbury Institute Working Paper Series coincides with a major paper on cultural industries in international business research which points to cultural industries representing an important, exciting, and complex context that receives growing scholarly attention.

With its mirror reflection of internationalization strategy, cross-border innovation, social inclusion in the global economy and emerging market research, we hope the latest Bloomsbury Institute Working Paper can sit proudly alongside research at the forefront of thought leadership and impact and can engage a more inclusive and international audience.

For more information, see our Research Seminar from May 2020, which covered both the Working Paper on Brexit, Commonwealth and the Creative Industries and Business Research in a (post) COVID-19 world.