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  • IASDR_2019_Published paper

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Local creative industries may be more global than we think: A study of tenants based at Baltic Creative, Liverpool

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Abstract

LOCAL CREATIVE INDUSTRIES MAY BE MORE GLOBAL THAN WE THINK explores the extent of international trade amongst a group of UK-based, micro-enterprises and SMEs (small-and-medium sized enterprises) classed as “creative industries.” The UK government’s 2018 Industrial Strategy: Creative Industries Sector Deal aims to increase UK creative industry exports by 50 per cent within 5 years, arguing there is a “great deal of untapped potential in the sector.” It also identifies small company size as a particular challenge to creative industry exports. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) maintains that in 2016 only 18 per cent of creative industries businesses engaged in international trade (DCMS, 2018a). Our research challenges these assumptions. At least one creative industries hub is already deeply entwined in global trade. In Liverpool’s creative and digital hub Baltic Creative, 69 per cent of tenants export. Furthermore, these exporters are highly dependent on their overseas income. Over one-third of exporters earn more than 50 per cent of their annual income from exports. Our research also finds that company size had not acted a deterrent to international trade. Rather company owners report concerns about access to global markets after Brexit, which had already resulted in significant financial losses for some. Our study reveals that even the smallest micro-enterprises are exporting not by way of strained or concerted efforts, but simply because they are operating in an open, digital, global environment where international trade is integral to their business.