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Written Statement - Update on progress on strategy in the Creative Industries Sector

Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport

Following a commitment made in Plenary on 20 January, I offered to update members on progress on strategy in the Creative Industries Sector.

In 2010 we created a clear and coherent plan that prioritised delivering support for the commercial creative sector and, as the economic statistics show, Wales is having significant success in its creative economy. Employment in the creative industries sector in Wales has increased by 52.2% since 2005. In the same timeframe, the number of enterprises active in the sector has increased by 32.2%, the biggest percentage increase of all the priority sectors. The sector also has the highest average weekly full-time salary of the priority sectors.

Since the Panel’s inception in 2010, we have helped to create or safeguard over 3,200 jobs in the sector and to attract more than £150 million investment into Wales.

The growing success of our film and TV industry is clear, with many productions under way bringing millions of pounds into the Welsh economy. South Wales is fast becoming the production hub the Sector Panel envisaged, with facilities along the M4 ‘Creative Corridor’ at Chepstow, Wentloog, Bridgend and Swansea.

A year ago, the First Minister opened Pinewood Studio Wales. As part of the agreement with Pinewood Shepperton, the Welsh Government created a £30 million Media Investment budget for commercial investment in film and TV development, production and distribution. This sends a clear message to the global media industry that Wales is a significant and important production centre and has the skills and talent, investment and infrastructure to attract and deliver international productions of high quality.

The relationship which developed over three seasons with the producers of Da Vinci’s Demons, led to Welsh Government securing Bad Wolf Ltd to Wales. Bad Wolf, led by Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner is scheduled to deliver a slate of 28 high end TV productions to Wales. .

We also secured the Fox drama The Bastard Executioner to Wales, which filmed for eight months both at Pinewood Studio Wales and Dragon Studios near Bridgend.  Twentieth Century Fox Productions were highly complimentary about their time in Wales and the support that they received from Welsh Government. Whilst the series was not picked up for a further season, Fox brought Dragon studios back to into use, and left the studio as a facility ready for use by future productions.

Bay Studios is currently home to a major period drama production that will run until May and we have a number of other major productions in the pipeline.

Our indigenous businesses are also thriving. Series ten of Doctor Who will air in the spring of 2017. Series five of Stella is currently being shown on Sky 1. The third series of Y Gwyll / Hinterland has begun filming on location in and around Aberystwyth.  

In addition, we have some successful companies operating in the production supply chain.  These include Real SFX, a special effects company who operate across the UK and who have won BAFTA Craft and BAFTA Cymru awards for their work on Doctor Who.  Another example is Andy Dixon Facilities now a major supplier of production and support vehicles to the television and film industry and who have seen major growth over the last couple of years.

Infrastructure projects have boosted the sector; Pinewood Studio Wales, Bay Studios, and the upgrading and bringing back into use of Dragon Studio as well as GloWorks in Porth Teigr, which is now fully occupied.

My sector delivery plan also prioritises supporting the exploitation of digital content. We have done this with success in digital media. The Digital Development Fund supports projects that exploit new business markets in the global digital economy through emerging digital technologies, with some notable successes that are creating high value jobs for Wales.  78 projects have been supported through the Digital Development Fund since its launch in 2011 to a value of over £2.5 million. We have recently supported three new job creation projects in the games industry, totalling over £2.5 million and creating 227 jobs.

In the Tech Nation report of 2015, South Wales was cited as one of the UK’s top five growing tech clusters, with 87% growth since 2010, alongside Bournemouth, Liverpool, Inner London & Brighton. In terms of average turnover, it sits alongside Greater Manchester, Belfast, Sheffield and Inner London.

One of the sector’s priorities is levering in funding from Europe. The new Creative Europe Programme was launched in January 2014. Recent recipients include the University of Aberystwyth to lead a literature network called ‘Literary Live Europe Network’ across 16 countries and Fiction Factory for series three of Hinterland/Y Gwyll. Fiction Factory has now been awarded a total of €1.45 million of MEDIA funding for series one and three of Hinterland / Y Gwyll.

In terms of achieving the priorities I set with my Creative Industries Sector Panel, we have performed very well and the statistics are evidence of this. The next step in achieving our priorities is to focus on building the supply chain, crew and services that Wales has, to ensure we can benefit fully from our recent success.