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New report sheds light on the birth of the Creative Industries

Addressing the moment at which the ‘creative industries’ were defined and measured for the first time, The Birth of the Creative Industries Revisited report by Dr Jonathan Gross was published today by King’s College London.

Mapping doc
John Newbigin, Janice Hughes, Ian Hargreaves and Gail Rebuck at the witness seminar held at Somerset House, Tuesday 11 December 2018.

Addressing the moment at which the ‘creative industries’ were defined and measured for the first time, The Birth of the Creative Industries Revisited report by Dr Jonathan Gross was published today by King’s College London.

The 1998 publication of the UK government’s Creative Industries Mapping Document marked a moment in history where a new sector of the UK economy was born. It changed the discourse around the creative and cultural sectors, and the ways in which they generate and deliver value.

This new report throws light on the creation and consequences of the Mapping Document, which has proven to be one of the most influential, far-reaching and controversial interventions of modern cultural policy.

Dr Gross, who is based in the Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries, undertook oral history research to trace the origins of the Mapping Document, bringing together recollections of many of the people who were directly involved at the time – including via a witness seminar, held 20 years on from the original publication.

‘The aim was to achieve recognition within government that there was something called the creative industries, that they could be measured, and that they were a significant part of the economy.’– Gross, Jonathan. (2020) The Birth of the Creative Industries Revisited: An Oral History of the 1998 DCMS Mapping Document. London: King’s College London.

The research has broader implications for understanding how public policy is made, and the ways policy makers can succeed – and fail – to make a difference.

Baroness Bull, Vice President & Vice Principal (London) and Senior Advisory Fellow for Culture said::

‘I hope that returning to this key moment in cultural policy will generate renewed interest not only in this fascinating moment in history, but in what it might teach us about the future.’

Dr Jonathan Gross, the report’s author, reflects:

‘Whilst the 1998 Mapping Document is often treated as the archetypal piece of New Labour policy, I found that it was only by recognising the tensions between multiple factors that brought it into existence – macroeconomic transformations, the repositioning of a political party, the machinery of government, and the aims and ideas of individual people – that the specific characteristics and consequences of the document could be understood. A key implication of the research, for me, is the suggestion it makes for narrating public policy in new ways.

The report is available to download here.

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Jonathan Gross

Jonathan Gross

Research Fellow