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Policy and research

Creative industries and higher education: how can we work together better?

15 April 2015

I’m thrilled to be the Advisory Chair of Cardiff University’s new Creative Cardiff initiative, supporting its two ambitions – to build the connections between Cardiff University’s academics and the creative industries and to create a dynamic network linking up the diverse creative sector in the city region.

My own background is in media and arts. I used to be Head of Arts, Music and Features at BBC Wales but since 2001 I’ve been Creative Director of the TV production company Green Bay Media – you may have seen shows like The Story of Wales which we produced. I’m also the proud Chair of the innovative and extraordinary National Theatre Wales.

Cardiff Bay

Anyway, a couple of months ago, I turned up at a roundtable discussion of senior Cardiff academics and figures from industry who had been called to meet and discuss with Dame Ann Dowling and her team. She’s been asked by the Minister for Universities, Science and Cities, Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, to lead a review examining how the UK government can support the development of more effective collaborations between businesses and university researchers in the UK. The overall objective is to help researchers to understand better the interests of industry and to facilitate the development of trusting relationships linking business with the UK’s research capabilities.

I piped up about the importance for jobs and growth of the creative industries across the UK but especially in Wales, and said that it was a matter of concern that they didn’t appear on a slide showing the government’s Industrial Strategy matrix – a point which was already in the minds of the Dowling Review group. I also emphasized how quick on their feet the creative industries are and that their crucial contribution to innovation is often hard to capture in models of long-term collaboration. They need distinctive processes and forms of partnership.

Be careful at such meetings! The next day I was invited to join the distinguished group of 16 people already serving on the Dowling Review – including Cardiff’s own Professor Graham Hutchings from Physical Chemistry and the Catalysis Institute. I said yes because it’s important to get the creative industries perspective into the recommendations to government for future structures and funding and because it puts our Creative Cardiff project, and the city of Cardiff, at the heart of that conversation. Already the team has provided up-to-date information and context about the significance of creative hubs, globally and across the UK, which have been fed into the Dowling Review group’s discussions.

Who knows what will happen in this policy area after the election? But one thing’s certain – the desire to release academic research more dynamically into the economy is high in the current thinking about Higher Education. And through our involvement in the Dowling Review, Creative Cardiff is helping to shape the debate.


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