Creative Industries Leadership Group minutes: June 2021

Minutes of the meeting of the Creative Industries Leadership Group (CILG) held on 23 June 2021.

Attendees and apologies


Chair: Brian Coane – The Leith Agency / Institute of Advertising Practitioners Scotland (industry co-chair)

Creative Industries:

  • Carol Sinclair, Carol Sinclair Ceramics
  • Rachel Brown, Creative Entrepreneurs’ Club
  • Sarah Cameron, SENSCOT
  • Chris Hunt, Freelance Creative 
  • Dougal Perman, Scottish Music Industry Association 
  • Janice Kirkpatrick, Graven 
  • Jenny Todd, Publishing Consultant 
  • Colin Anderson, Denki 
  • Pamela Tulloch, Scottish Library and Information Council 


  • Claire Renton, South of Scotland Enterprise
  • Clive Gilman, Creative Scotland
  • Aileen Lamb, Scottish Enterprise
  • David Martin, Skills Development Scotland 
  • Jenni Oliver, Highlands and Islands Enterprise
  • Andre Reibig, Scottish Funding Council
  • David Smith, Screen Scotland 

Scottish Government:

  • Simon Cuthbert-Kerr, Scottish Government
  • Jane Holligan, Scottish Government 
  • Hazel Parkinson, Scottish Government 
  • Heather Holmes, Scottish Government 
  • Susan McColl, Scottish Government
  • India Divers, Scottish Government 


  • Jacqueline Donachie, Artist, Glasgow Sculpture Studios
  • David Eustace, Photographer and Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University  
  • Cameron Fraser, Ko Lik Animated Films 
  • Philip Hannay, Cloch Solicitors
  • Lorna Macaulay, The Harris Tweed Authority
  • Lucy Mason, Freelance Arts Producer and Consultant 
  • Jane Muirhead, Raise the Roof Productions 
  • Richard Scott, Axis Animation 
  • Alex Smith, XpoNorth 
  • Jonathan Pryce, Scottish Government 
  • Derek McCrindle, Scottish Enterprise

Items and actions

The following summary of discussions reflects the points raised by individuals during the discussion and not necessarily an agreed position.

Introductory remarks

The Chair, Brian Coane, welcomed members to the first non-Ministerial meeting of the Creative Industries Leadership Group (CILG). Ms Hylsop, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture, and Mr Hepburn, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, were no longer in these roles, and officials were discussing with new Ministers who would attend CILG in the future. 

Since the last meeting in March, two working groups had been set up. The first focused on training the creative workforce for the future of the industry; the second at increasing the resilience of the creative industries.

Brian Coane had attended the Industry Leadership Group meeting. He noted that it was encouraging to see the impact some other leadership groups had made. He suggested it may be beneficial to have conversations with some of them.

Apologies were noted

Minutes of previous meeting and matters arising

The summary of discussions from the last meeting had been circulated, agreed and published on the Scottish Government website. 

The actions from the last meeting were: to look at the value of the creative industries and ensure the work of the National Partnership for Culture (NPC) was linked up to the work of the group. Brian Coane had met with Joanna Baker (Chair, NPC) and would continue with discussions. Officials were in regular engagement with the Culture Team. 

There were ongoing actions from earlier meetings to continue discussions around creative education and diversity. These will be considered for future meetings and included in the skills workstream. 

CILG working groups

Brian Coane thanked Carol Sinclair and Dougal Perman for chairing the working groups. The Creative Workforce Working Group (CWWG) comprised Carol Sinclair, Alex Smith, Jacqueline Donachie and Jane     Muirhead. The working group on increasing the resilience of the creative industries was made up of Dougal Perman, Chris Hunt, Rachel Brown and Brian Coane.

Papers outlining each group’s work plan had been circulated prior to the meeting. Members were asked to provide feedback in the format of two stars and a wish: provide two positive points of feedback and one thing they would like to see that was not included. 

Carol noted that her group (CWWG) focused on how to train the creative workforce for the future. As it was a wide subject area, they had agreed to focus on areas that they were passionate about and had expertise. Between them they had experience of a rich mix of geographies and sub-sectors. They were interested to hear about areas that were not being represented and examples of good practice, speakers or organisations they should speak to.

The group started its work with the question from an earlier meeting “what does success look like in the Creative Industries?”. Sometimes this was seen as being about jobs and maintaining a career and still working in the area of study. However, in the creative industries people often traversed different art forms and often ended up working in a different sub-sector to the one where they started. There was an emphasis on jobs growth; there was a need for support agencies to recognise that the sector did not always result in jobs growth. 

Skills in identifying opportunities were important. The emphasis was on people being able to create their own pathway, forge and develop pathways and being able to change direction. The group welcomed the PEC paper and its vital recognition of freelance workers in different sectors. It also picked up on the shortage of skills – not on learning; apprenticeships were an important part of on the job learning. 

The working group was also focused on the development of skills to facilitate lifelong learning from nursery to retirement. The creative workforce was highly educated and this needed to be recognised. The Young Person’s Guarantee (YPG) was welcome and important. Carol was meeting Sandy Begbie to discuss the YPG and ensure that is applied to the over 25s and people who were being made redundant and were wanting to refocus. As a result of the pandemic, the craft sector had seen large numbers of people wanting to enter the sector. The large spectrum of lifelong learning was difficult to grapple with and map. The group noted that it could not do everything in this area in the timescale of the working group. It reiterated its need for help with good practice and information on gaps, and signposting on where the group should focus its efforts. The group wanted to have further discussions with PEC.


  • officials to make sure CILG is linked into the work of PEC and to facilitate further conversations between them

Equality, diversity and inclusion was vital in the creative sector – and everyone was grappling with these issues. Jane was looking at them within the group. On specialists, the group was considering speaking to Skills Development Scotland in relation to its survey on creative industries in the pandemic and to Creative Scotland. It noted that it did not want to duplicate what was already going on; it also wanted to highlight geographical aspects. 

There had been an enormous shift in people moving out of cities to rural areas and islands. It was important to consider how digital skills and infrastructure were retained. Alex was picking up these issues in the Highlands and Islands, as well as IP issues, business modelling and learning about new ways of working and developing business models. The group wanted to hear of any examples of good practice and lessons to be learned for future ways of work. 

The working group also wanted to address financial inequality which had been exacerbated as a result of Covid-19; it was also a barrier to entering the creative industries sector. It also wanted to look at universal basic income.

The wider CILG group was supportive of the work plan. Members commented on the importance of communicating the transferrable skills held by workers in the creative industries, and also the understanding creatives. Geographical challenges were specific to Scotland. There were huge opportunities at present for recruiting from other places. The pandemic had levelled the playing field and allowed opportunities for small businesses, though these required more training. It was suggested that working group would find it valuable to speak to TRC Media which offered a Cross-Creative training     programme. In the video games industry, there was a need for more production and support skills; there were lots of courses for art, animation and coding. It had taken 10 years for courses in the creative industries to  teach production skills. There were a lot of good examples of developers in video games but fewer ones where a business took an existing game and marketed it, turning it into something successful. It was noted that there was a trend for some businesses to work remotely across Scotland. 

It was noted that marketing needed to be every creative professional’s job and integrated into the process of creating; it should not be an afterthought. This was a time for opportunity in the creative industries as blended and remote working allows businesses to attract the best talent from across Scotland. 

However, there was a challenge around the inequality in digital infrastructure around the country to enable the creative industries to thrive. The Scottish Government had looked at digital infrastructure for a long time. There was an opportunity to build stronger networks between freelancers digitally and join up the good practice taking place in different sub-sectors. The libraries sector was able to provide support for digital connectivity, offer workshops for freelancers and support for marketing. Fair work was a key issue.

The economic impact of the creative industries was seen to be hidden. The sector provided the pre-conditions for growth. It was not getting its message through to other sectors about its importance or the role it can play: it was missing from all the major topics such as net zero, climate and contributing to global change.     

The sector needed to find new ways to explain what it did and how it could help other sectors. It was important to focus on clear big messages to communicate rather than details that blur the clarity of the larger message. 


  • the CWWG are going to proceed with a clear focus as the topic of skills was extensive

Dougal introduced his working group on increasing the resilience of the creative industries. It was a large subject area that needed to be refined and be deliverable by March 2022 with recommendations for the Scottish Government. The group had refined a definition of resilience. It had focused on strength and successes that had revealed themselves and how to strengthen the weaknesses and consider what is needed. 

The group was interested in the idea of creative value in numerical and conceptual terms as well as in revealing unknown value (e.g. trying to count the size of the Creative Industries). It considered that business turnover from Companies House often missed out the contribution from freelancers. There was untapped potential value in Intellectual Property (IP) in existing work. Creative products could be sold in various ways such as licencing opportunities from musicians in film and advertising that went well beyond performances. Workers in the creative industries were seen as often not realising their true value, for example by not charging enough for their work. This could lead to a devaluation of the work. There was a need to take into account people, place and process. 

The group looked at the criteria of resilience. It had met with Screen Scotland to help frame its thinking. The approach of screen could be applied to other creative industries and think about how to take learning forward.

The group was looking at a variety of areas including economic and environmental sustainability, infrastructure, flexibility and adaptability, diversity and refining their focus on what they mean by resilience. The definition of     resilience was set out in the discussion paper. The group wanted to look at how the creative industries could be more sustainable so that it would not only cope with ups and downs but also grow. This was relevant to all sub-sectors within the creative industries as constant growth was not a long-term reality. The group was conscious that there was not a silo around business size. It was thinking about weaknesses at present and action to take the group forward. 

The group needed to connect with agencies delivering support to ensure that there was no duplication and they could celebrate hard work. It wanted to look at examples of great practice, inconsistencies, lost impact and growth for sustainable impact. If there were threats – why were they there and how had they come about? What could be done to ensure that they are met with opportunity? There was a notion that resilience was in everyone, including freelancers, and how did resilience cross-reference with apprenticeships and working effectively in the freelance community. The group wanted to look     around sectors to check on views and to cross-reference them. It was also looking regionally. For example, it was aware of success with incubators like Abertay University where people remained in the area after completing their education. 

The group considered resilience the ability to be able to bounce back and work in different environments. If workers were able to pivot, they were more employable. However, it was important that people did not burn themselves out when pivoting and then taking on too much work. The sector did not have support mechanisms in place to look after its workers; these were needed. 

The question was raised of how to look after the wellbeing of the freelance workforce and individuals. There was a need for leadership. Wellbeing and support were important and learning could be brought in from other areas of how to support people. It was important to work together to make sure people were being looked after under the Fair Work agenda.

It was considered that Scotland could be a beacon to look after people working remotely. It was important to look at examples of good practice such as those found in Canada. It was important to find out where the talent in Scotland was located.

On discussion of the draft workplan, it was noted that there was an overlap between the work of the two working groups – a positive one. There was validity in small scale nimble businesses that could adapt quickly. There was agreement with the people focused approach. Applied Arts Scotland and Craft Scotland was suggested as an example of good practice. The Scottish Library and Information Council (SLiC) was looking at how to present value in libraries. It was focused on the areas of demonstrating the social return of investment and the economic benefits through libraries and preventative spend (e.g. wellbeing and mental wellbeing and what was contributing to preventative spend). This could be a good area to focus on in the creative industries.  

Action: Resilience working group to follow up on the examples of good practice provided.

Freelancers of the creative industries – presentation and discussion

Eliza Easton, Head of Policy Unit, Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) gave a presentation on freelancers in the creative industries. The UK Government had undertaken research on the self-employed. However, freelancers, including the term “freelancer” was not clearly defined. They comprised around a third of the sector. There were interesting structural reasons for their use, for example in the film sector. Freelancers comprised a wide range of people. There was very little data on working practices as people were grouped into the self-employed category. Overall, there was a need for a better understanding of self-employment. 

PEC surmised that Freelancers were being let down by policy makers, in part, due to a lack of data. This included decisions on immigration through the work of the Migration Advisory Committee; it did not have enough data to suit the needs of sectors relied on by self-employed people. This was an issue for all industries, not just the creative industries. 

PEC had undertaken 8 pieces of work during Freelancer Week. This new research was undertaken to understand how policy needs to change. The high level recommendations showed that the lack of information was a systematic issue. There was a lack of understanding on what was a global issue. This was leading to policies that fell short, even those that were trying to improve the situation for the workers. There was a call for a Freelance Commissioner and a change in the way data on self-employment was collected. A change in how ONS was to collect data would represent a major change in policy making.  Skills policy  was seen as repeatedly not meeting  the needs of self-employed people. Immigration rules did not allow self-employed people to enter the UK to fill skills shortages as they did not have an employer. Many research pieces for the sector on diversity did not include freelancers because it was too difficult for organisations to collect. There was a need to think about the skills we need to function to come into the UK. 

There was an upcoming focus to look at how to grow the creative industries across different geographies, looking at micro-clusters of 50 businesses. The data suggests that these small clusters had been resilient to Covid-19. However, lots of businesses had stopped employing freelancers as a result of the pandemic.


  • officials to arrange for Eliza to speak to the CWWG

It was noted that SIC codes often meant that businesses were put in categories that did not fit them. There was a need to change this at an international level; there was a consultation taking place on this issue. Webscraping could be used to help understand the sector along with SIC codes and Government Codes. This would allow important discussions to take place. It would be beneficial to have an international system which could keep up with fast moving industries such as the games sector.

Collaboration could be used to support freelance talent. For example, if an employer was not able to sustain work for a freelance employee but wanted to keep talent in the area, they could collaborate with a competitor to take on the freelancer for a project and then return to their business afterwards. In the Preston Model anchor institutions procured locally. It had a good effect but did not necessarily suit smaller businesses.

It was asked whether freelancers wanted to be freelancers. It was considered that overall most of them did as they valued the ability to work across different projects.


  • Eliza to share the presentation slides and the PEC research on developing creative industries across geographies due to be published on 12 July

PEC wanted to see a step change in the data to allow local areas to become more engaged in conversations. Growing the creative industries in towns had a huge impact on the town; micro-clusters were about growing the towns themselves rather than about businesses trying to make as much money as they could. 

AOB and date of next meeting

The next meeting would be held on 8 September. This was a Ministerial meeting with a minister in attendance. Members will be advised of who the Ministerial co-chair will be when known. The wider CILG group was asked to make contributions to the working groups.

Brian noted that the membership of CILG was being reviewed as the membership was too large. Simon Cotton had stood down; he was also chair of the Textiles Leadership Group. Brian and the group noted Simon’s valuable contributions to CILG. 

Full meeting actions

  • officials to ensure CILG is linked into the work of PEC and to facilitate further conversations between them
  • the CWWG are going to proceed with a clear focus as the topic of skills was extensive
  • Resilience Working Group to follow up on the examples of good practice provided
  • officials to arrange for Eliza Easton to speak to the CWWG
  • Eliza Easton to share the presentation slides and the PEC research on developing creative industries across geographies due to be published on 12 July
  • officials to seek confirmation of the Minister who will co-chair CILG
  • CILG resilience and skills working groups to proceed working on their work plans
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