What are the key challenges facing the creative industries in today’s multi-platform digital age? And what can we do to help nurture the imaginative thinking and innovative ideas that will help propel the creative sector to a brighter future when so much looks uncertain? That's the question UKTV - the multi-award winning media company - has posed to a section of the nation's most influential creatives for inclusion in Leading Lights - a new e-book published on 2nd April 2013.
Leading Lights features a series of insightful yet accessible essays from a range of creative luminaries around innovation and thought leadership. Contributors include Iain Morris, the creative genius behind the The Inbetweeners, Michelin stared chef, Michel Roux Jr, Martha Lane Fox founder of lastminute.com, Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library and Culture Secretary, Ed Vaizey.
Baroness Martha Lane Fox CBE, founder Lastminute.com and newly appointed Lady Soho argues that there are structural problems within the UK that work against digital business start ups – Victorian education, pessimism, the role of the BBC and the American imports that use the UK as a testing ground. She thinks that a cultural shift is needed – not just to create more individual entrepreneurs but to improve the teams working for entrepreneurs. Together with a board of eight top CEOs she is putting her energies into Go On UK – a charity that will build Britain’s digital skills so we are all equipped for the future.
Roly Keating, CEO of the British Library, argues that print is not dead but the move from physical to digital is an opportunity that results in a burst of creativity. He sees opportunities for digital creativity through the intersection of different industries. TV companies and libraries have more in common than you would first imagine.
Iain Morris, creator of The Inbetweeners says a decision to say ‘yes’ to any kind of social event or offer was the defining factor in his creative career - most of the time it led to disaster! Out of disaster came The Inbetweeners TV Series and movie and a writing career in the UK and now in LA. The American comedy process of corralling a team of writers to sit around a table isn’t for Iain and nor is the process of working on several projects at a time. Iain is a great believer in the notion that you should focus on one thing at a time and be utterly single-minded.
Michel Roux Jnr, the three-michelin starred owner of Le Gavroche, grew up in a creative family kitchen, and believes that your ingredients are the basis for all creativity. Now a top professional chef, he gets his inspiration from other chefs. He sends his sous chefs out to other restaurants to investigate the repertoire and come up with new dishes that they can trial together.
Ed Vaizey MP describes himself as middle aged and stuck in traditional patterns, but admits to being a keen SuperMario player and digital downloader. Unlike many other politicians he reveals that he doesn’t know what is going to happen next in the creative industries because he cannot predict the speed of change, and suggests that there’s something to be said for doing nothing.
Commenting on the launch of the book and its contributors, Darren Childs, CEO, UKTV said, “I’m proud to have brought together such a diverse and impressive line-up of artistic luminaries for Leading Lights, to celebrate UKTV’s 21 years at the forefront of digital television. The book provides fascinating insights on the challenges facing the creative industries in the digital age and how we need to meet those challenges head on by ensuring innovation and creativity are at the heart of everything we do’.
Full and abridged essay texts are available for publication.
Leading Lights: SELECTED HIGHLIGHTS
Baroness Martha Lane-Fox
“In the UK we have a problem. The big digital movers and shakers in the UK – Google, Twitter, Linked In, Amazon and many others were founded in America. We are stuck in a cultural cul-de –sac. There are no easy answers as to why the UK does not have the digital confidence of the USA, but we must do our best to tackle our low digital self esteem … My second concern is the dominance of the BBC. Although the BBC is a phenomenal organisation, digital innovation in the UK has happened inside the BBC. It is impressive that the BBC develops something as good as the iplayer, but it remains inside the organisation and that restricts market factors. ”
“I’m working in the US at the moment, and I think that creative single-mindedness is often missing in the American television industry. People are always looking towards the next deal. It’s almost expected in America that you should have at least three things on the go at once, doing each to a ‘good enough’ degree, rather than spending time on one thing and making it excellent. There are of course exceptions: the best shows, like South Park and The Simpsons, are made by people who concentrate wholly on them. ”
“Print is not dead. In sheer volume, both newspapers and print books seem to be riding high, but audience habits are changing in front of our eyes. My daughter flits effortlessly between buying books on her Kindle and working her way through a paperback and likes both in different moods. In our lifetime we will undoubtedly enjoy a sea of print materials but it’ll also be our privilege to live through some form of revolution of blended media with people being amphibious, switching back and forth between print and digital. There’s an analogy with television here. Linear scheduling hasn’t disappeared under pressure of on demand services. It has just had to raise its game. ”
Michel Roux Jr
“There are so many cookery programmes on TV today, and that can only be a good thing, because it makes people interested and curious about their food and where it comes from. I was horrified by the burger scandal recently, where it was discovered that some supermarket burgers contained horse meat and pork, as well as beef. …I’m French and in France we eat horsemeat, so that does not bother me so much, though I understand that many English people find eating horse more contentious. But what does appal me is the fact that people were not being given the information to make an informed choice about what they were eating.”
“Creative industries in the UK are on the cusp of change; and yet so much remains the same. It’s as if we are caught in a frustrating holding pattern, circling around the same old arguments. We can be pretty certain where things are going.”
For further information please contact Anna Penney at Taylor Herring Public Relations on 020 8206 5151 / anna.penney@taylorherringcom.
About the essayists
Baroness Martha Lane Fox CBE
Martha Lane Fox, CBE is best known for co-founding Lastminute.com, a product of the dotcom boom an online travel and gift business that generated great publicity, floating at the peak of the dot-com bubble. The company survived the dotcom crash to be bought for £577m in 2005. She is a board member of Channel 4, mydeco.com, and Marks & Spencer. She is also chair of Go On UK , having been engaged as a public servant chairperson on various e-commerce projects and investigations, Go On UK is a charity committed to building digital skills in the UK.
Michel Roux Jr
Michel Roux Jr has followed in the footsteps of his father and uncle’s footsteps, as a professional chef. He took over running Le Gavroche in 1991, gradually changing the style of cooking to his own – classic French with a lighter, modern twist. Over the years Michel and Le Gavroche have received many awards, the most recent of which being the 2012 Tatler Restaurant Award for Lifetime Achievement. Michel is a judge and presenter on the BBC’s popular prime time show MasterChef: The Professionals. He also front’s BBC1’s new flagship show Food & Drink.
Iain Morris got his first break in light entertainment by pestering a producer to give him a job as a runner on his favourite television programme, Fantasy Football League. After a stint as Head of Comedy for Channel 4, he started his own production company, Bwark, with long-time friend Damon Beesley. The show they wrote together, The Inbetweeners, ran for three series, won numerous awards, and spawned a massively successful film.
Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library, began his career in Television where he was described as one of the BBC’s ‘greatest cultural heavyweights’. His career began as a producer and director in Music and Arts programming, before moving on to run BBC Four, and BBC Two. In 1997 Roly was Head of Programming for UKTV, overseeing the launch of the BBC's joint venture channels, he went on to become BBC Controller of Digital Channels and run the Digital Archive where he was overall editorial leader for the BBC’s online services, including BBC iPlayer.
The UK Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State post with responsibilities in both the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Vaizey was elected Conservative Member of Parliament for the constituency of Wantage at the 2005 General Election, and was re-elected in the 2010 General Election.A qualified barrister, he is a regular media columnist and commentator.
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