Unveiled: The New Arts Entrepreneurs Trailblazing Scotland’s £4.6 billion creative revolution

Unveiled: The New Arts Entrepreneurs Trailblazing Scotland’s £4.6 billion creative revolution

Published: 30/11/2017

An insight into entrepreneurship from some of Scotland’s leading performing and production artists is today unveiled by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Pioneering arts practitioners, from choreographers and costume designers to performance makers and producers, are profiled in a new publication in which they share their advice, experience and what it means to carve a unique path in the global creative landscape. All are graduates of Scotland’s national conservatoire, one of the world’s top three performing arts education institutions (QS World Rankings 2017).

The 12 Royal Conservatoire of Scotland graduates who are featured in Movers and Shakers Developing Enterprising Artists, Makers and Technicians, include Noisemaker, an award-winning music theatre duo with an international reach, Nicola Russell, a costume designer who was called upon to create stage wear for Beyoncé, and Matthew Whiteside who has composed numerous concert works and scored feature films and TV documentaries. Graduates of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland are innovative self-starters with an inherent entrepreneurial spirit. They are at the forefront of one of the fastest-growing industries in the UK, which contributes billions to the national economy.

Scotland’s creative industries contribute £4.6billion gross value added (GVA) to the Scottish economy, supporting 73,600 jobs. Employment in the UK’s creative industries is growing at four times the rate of the UK workforce as a whole. The nation’s creative industries now employ almost two million people, up five percent on the previous year, compared to the wider UK workforce which grew by 1.2per cent, according to the latest statistics from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.


  • The Scottish Government’s Growth Sector Statistics, published in August this year, reveal that Scotland’s creative industries contribute £4.6billion to the economy and employ 73,600 people. The sector is now larger than life sciences and sustainable tourism in terms of GVA (Gross Value Added) and employs more people than the energy sector. It is dominated by small enterprises with 59% of the 15,420 registered enterprises having zero employees (i.e. are sole traders) and 88% in total have less than five employees.
  • The creative industries outpace the 12 largest industries of the UK economy. They return four times the GVA of the automotive industry, six times as much as life sciences and nearly ten times that of aerospace. A 2015 analysis by PwC showed the automotive sector was worth £19.6bn GVA, life sciences £14.5bn, oil and gas £13.7bn and aerospace £8.8bn. That is, the GVA of the creative industries is bigger than the automotive sector, life sciences, oil and gas and aerospace combined. (Creative Industries Federation)
  • In November this year, a Creative Industries Council survey, revealed that more than 90% of MPs polled agreed that the UK creative industries are vitally important to the future of the UK’s economy, job creation and positive perceptions of Brand Britain.
  • Figures from HESA’s 2015/16 Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey shows that of 207 Royal Conservatoire graduates working, 114 are listed as self-employed or freelance (55%).


Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “Our performing artists are benefitting from one of the most innovative curriculums in the conservatoire environment one that encourages them to create art and ideas that transcend natural borders and boundaries. This remarkable case study highlights a selection of leading arts practitioners that are creating their own work and reaching a wide audience. They exemplify how a performing, creative artist can make a vibrant contribution to society and I am delighted to share this publication with you.”

John Kampfner, Chief Executive of the Creative Industries Federation, said: “The creative industries transform lives. We are growing faster than any other part of the UK’s economy and creating jobs at four times the rate of other sectors, with growth in Scotland happening quicker than in any other part of the country. Our importance will only grow with the rise of the robots, with creative jobs proving highly resistant to automation. From Glasgow, to Hull, to Margate, the creative industries are bringing together communities and making them better places to live and work. Our music, films and books are what we are known for around the globe. As the UK looks to find a new place in the world, we have a major part to play.”

Bob Last, co-chair of the Creative Industries Advisory Group, which was established to advise Scottish ministers on how to support and grow Scotland’s creative industries sector, said: “The conservatoire, its fellow specialist institutions and the talents they nurture represent a vital reservoir of creative and cultural energy”Ž. These case studies reveal a cohort of self-starters whose education has enhanced not only their talent but also their self-knowledge and ability to apply analytical and entrepreneurial skills across their ambitions. What in a cultural and creative industries context could be more valuable? We should listen to these voices if we want to support their successors effectively.”

Noisemaker, the partnershipof actor/writer Scott Gilmour and composer Claire McKenzie, is dedicated to the creation and development of new musical theatre both in Scotland and around the world.Scott Gilmoursaid: “Creative artists are subject to one great advantage over entrepreneurs from other fields of business; their line of work is a risk from the beginning.Whether you’re a painter, an actor, a dancer, a videographer, each vocation begins as a hobby that individual then chooses to pursue as a profession. Despite a lack of job security, stability and obvious trajectory, many artists relish the uncertainty of their field and harness it to become unique and innovative individuals. Every hurdle provides natural armour, risk-taking becomes second nature and work ethic and self-belief have already been honed enough to undertake the challenges that come with working as an entrepreneur.”

As well as detailing the creative routes of graduates, the Royal Conservatoire publication,Movers and Shakers Developing Enterprising Artists, Makers and Technicians, also aims to stimulate new dialogues and ideas around enhancing approaches to enterprise development for the future. Enterprise is embedded in the curriculum at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland one of the world’s top three performing arts education institutions. A multi-disciplinary approach is designed to develop entrepreneurial skills and artistic collaboration to ensure career longevity in the competitive creative industries. Enterprise learning is rooted in industry context, addressing industry expectations, technological developments, professional standards and intrinsically linked with core arts and technical study. Students also benefit from high-level industry partnerships as part of their educational experience with access to BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Opera, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the National Theatre of Scotland.

Composer and concert producer Matthew Whitesidegraduated from the MMus Composition programme in 2012. Matthew Whitesidesaid: “As an artist, it can be hard to convince someone the idea floating in your head is a good one, until they see the final outcome. I think this makes artists natural entrepreneurs out of necessity. They are the ones who care about their own work most and want to see it come to life in front of an audience.”

You can download the Movers and Shakers publication here.

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