2021-22 Annual Report

Here for those who dare to imagine.

Creative UK connects and empowers the creative sector. As the independent network for the UK’s Creative Industries, we are here for those who dare to imagine.

Creative UK’s purpose is to harness the power of creativity and amplify the voice of its membership, to build a fairer and more prosperous world.

We build industry insight, advocate for the contribution the cultural and creative practitioners and businesses make to the UK economy and civic society.

And we provide practical support and investment to help creative people and businesses to grow and thrive.

When we first set out our core organisational pillars to prioritise People, Place and Planet, we had no idea of the long-lasting effects of the pandemic or that the reverberations would be felt some two years later. However, I believe our firm commitment to these goals and our bold vision for the future of the creative industries, has enabled us to drive real and lasting change as well as a contributing to the economic impact of the sector.

We know the Creative Industries are far-reaching and are growing at four times the rate of the wider economy but there is still work to be done for both the public and the Government to recognise the value and impact of creativity across the UK. In this report you’ll see that as well as championing and advocating for the Creative Industries we have also provided direct, tangible support – from advice, guidance and business support to creative entrepreneurs, talent development schemes and directly investing £3.5m into small, high growth creative companies.

I am proud of the leadership Creative UK provided this year to spearhead the Creative Industries' response to addressing bullying and harassment across the sector, with industry leaders signing up to codes of conduct and supporting the establishment of an Independent Standards Authority to investigate allegations and uphold and improve standards of behaviour. I want to thank all of those brave people who stood up to be heard.

Other notable highlights this year include loudly advocating for our important freelance community, to challenge and push for change where it really matters this year and successfully launching our Breakout partnership with Netflix UK to invest in and champion the next generation of feature filmmakers.

We made good on our promise to support the growing clusters of creative companies and talent across the country, launching the inaugural North of Tyne Cultural and Creative Investment programme thanks to the kind backing from the North of Tyne Combined Authority.

We’re grateful to the many creative practitioners and business leaders who appeared at our Creative Coalition Festival and helped us convene a far-reaching national conversation on how our world leading creative sector can help us build a fairer, more inclusive economy with less cost to the planet. 

The beating heart of success, of course, is a strong team with shared goals and values. Without my amazing team of talented colleagues, board members, partners and stakeholders none of this would have been possible. I’d like to raise a metaphorical glass to you all for your unwavering support and conviction. I know we are in safe hands as we prepare for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.  It is my firm belief that it is only the Creative Industries that have the ability to imagine solutions to problems that the rest of the world have yet to conceive.

Much love,

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Caroline Norbury, OBE

CEO, Creative UK

Caroline Norbury, OBE

Our year in numbers: 

Over 45% of creative businesses

we supported

were led by women 

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Over 60,000

creative individuals

in our network


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DSP_4704 Charlotte Bond & Culture and the Climate Emergency panel (C) David Spink Photography



And over 21% 

businesses supported were led by underrepresented groups  




Creative UK connects and empowers the creative sector.



Talented, creative people are everywhere. We help connect them to the opportunities they need to thrive.



Investing in culture and the creative industries can regenerate cities, towns and villages, across the UK.



Creativity has the power to influence change, shape our narrative on climate sustainability and protect our planet.



  • We convened creative leaders to commit to a cross-industry approach to tackling bullying and harassment in the Creative Industries. Resulting in the creation of codes of conduct for each creative sector, the adoption of a cross-industry approach to training and the establishment of an Independent Standards Authority (ISA), to provide an independent source of advice, support and recourse. 

  • We launched Breakout, a new partnership with Netflix UK giving the next generation of outstanding filmmakers the opportunity to debut their first feature film.

  • We established our Future of Freelance Champions movement to recognise the immense contribution this workforce brings to the creative industries, drive systemic change by being advocates for the freelance community; increasing the profile and visibility of creative freelancers and entrepreneurs, and by developing ideas for a refreshed set of values for the Creative Industries to support all parts of the ecosystem.


  • We launched the North of Tyne Cultural and Creative Investment Programme. Funded by the North of Tyne Combined Authority, this first of its kind programme offers financial and business support to freelancers and businesses working in the Creative Industries in North Tyneside, Northumberland, and Newcastle.

  • We supported a record-breaking 82 feature films and 164 TV dramas on location in the English regions outside of London, leading to economic benefits estimated at £130m and creating 4,000 working days for freelancers across the country.

  • Our team engaged with over 600 businesses from all over the UK to help them access finance and grow, 45% of which were female-led and 21% were led by underrepresented groups. We allocated over £300k of New Ideas funding to screen businesses developing new models, technology, and innovation, and allocated over £120k of planning grants to help businesses refine, review and adapt their strategies with support from experts.

  • Our Creative Coalition Festival attracted an online audience of over 4,500 people and this year we were able to hold live events too, which were broadcast from all over the country.





  • We implemented a hybrid model of remote and office working to significantly reduce our travel and that of our supply chains, encouraging a digital-first mindset among our staff and stakeholders.

  • We brought our members together with the Business Secretary and Innovation Minister to explore ways the creative sector could help UK PLC met net zero objectives.

  • We championed the role of the Creative Industries in achieving net zero ambitions, both in their own business practices and through the application of creative solutions.

We Championed 


In the run-up to the UK Government’s 2021 Spending Review, and as the country was recovering from a period of unparalleled global economic uncertainty, we worked with our members on our first publication as the Creative UK Group –The UK Creative Industries: unleashing the power and potential of creativity.

This seminal report features newly commissioned data from Oxford Economics, which projects that, with the right investment, the sector could recover faster than the UK economy as a whole, growing by over 26% by 2025 and contributing £132.1 billion to the economy in GVA – over £28 billion more than in 2020, and more than the financial services, insurance and pension industries combined.

To coincide with the report launch, we launched our campaign, #WeAreCreative. The campaign aimed to show government just how powerful the creative industries are and crucially, what can be unlocked with the right investment. Our campaign was a huge success reaching more than one in six people in the UK, featuring voices ranging from comedian and film entrepreneur Sir Lenny Henry to newly elected Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin, former Minister of State Jo Johnson and London-based TV and radio broadcaster, Swarzy.




“The global impact of the UK’s Creative Industries is unquestionable. People are sometimes surprised when I talk about the lengths my production company Douglas Road Productions goes to, to ensure that projects are properly funded. We work closely with support bodies to ensure that our projects are properly resourced through tax credits and financial aid, leaving us to get on with making the very best shows we possibly can."

- Lenny Henry

1in 6

people in the UK

connected with our #Wearecreative campaign

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downloads of the report 

We Connected 


With the easing of Covid-19 restrictions live events returned, and we were able to bring our members together again.

We held creative collaborations, receptions and roundtable discussions right across the UK’s nations and regions, from Newcastle to Dundee, Glasgow to London, Cardiff to Cornwall. Visionary speakers leading change in creative communities shared insights and wisdom covering climate change, how to diversify the workforce, build momentum for positive action with local and UK government and more. We also hosted open-access online forums opening up these conversations to all, finding new collaborators so we can turn ideas into reality.

The Creative Coalition Festival marked the pinnacle of our collective collaboration working with leaders of some of the UK’s most important creative and cultural organisations. This was the second edition of Creative UK’s flagship annual event, which gave our finest creators, makers, leaders and innovators the opportunity to reimagine, redefine and reignite our creative future across 3 days and 60 packed sessions attracting people from over 60 countries.

Speakers included Rt Hon Nadine Dorries MP (Secretary of State for DCMS), Rt Hon Keir Starmer MP (Leader of the Opposition), Ben McOwen Wilson (Managing Director of YouTube UK), Jed Mercurio (Leading Television Writer and Showrunner) and June Sarpong OBE (Director of Creative Diversity, BBC).


creatives united through Creative Coalition 2022


countries attended
Creative Coalition 2022




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From our partners in Taiwan comes a feast on the senses – enjoy a specially curated showreel of TAICCA’s world-class talent.


Eden Sessions

An exploration of how the BBC and other broadcasters are working with production companies to engage with sustainability across fact and fiction. Led by Gaby Hornsby with members of the Cornish TV and Film industry. – another Planet focused session.

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The Open University

Our partnership with Open University



 Taiwan Creative Content Agency (TAICCA), is the professional intermediary organisation promoting the development of Taiwan’s content industries, including film and television, pop music, publishing, ACG, and fashion, artworks and cultural technologies.

Creative UK's partnership with TAICCA led to several business opportunities for UK companies, including between Taiwan company, LiCap, and two UK companies – Bristol-based software developer Calvium Ltd, and leading studio, Kilogramme Animation, operating in Manchester. Together they recruited UK-based music groups to test and review LiCap’s products and helped support with fundraising.
By introducing these companies to each other, LiCap was able to grow and develop the prototype of the LiCap product for the music industry and subsequently bring their product to a global market. At the same time, the company gained valuable knowledge of the UK’s business landscape in their field and were able to talk about the UK’s Creative Industries with international partners and colleagues.


Eden Sessions

Streamed from the Rainforest Biome at Eden Project, Cornwall, explore how

leading Creative Practitioners go about creating work about the Climate Emergency. 





The Open University

2021/2022 marked a prolific year of collaboration between Creative UK and our Federation member The Open University (OU). The OU sponsored our seminal report, The UK Creative Industries: Unleashing the power and potential of creativity; the first of its kind to evidence the immense social and economic power of the UK’s Creative Industries, which included a written contribution from Professor Ian Fribbance, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences and Professor of Economics Education at the OU. We then partnered with the OU on the Creative Coalition Festival, placing them at the centre of industry-shaping conversations. Through their targeted and additional sponsorship of two specific events, Breaking Down Barriers and Investing in the UK’s Future Workforce, which attracted over 1K people combined, we were able to connect them to a range of influential speakers from politicians to cultural organisations and creatives. Josie Fraser, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Emma Sweeney, Lecturer in Creative Writing, represented the OU alongside speakers including Jo Johnson,  former Minister of State and Chair of Access Creative College.

And finally, over 170 students from the OU took advantage of their Creative UK student membership, accessing opportunities to grow their connections and gain insight into the Creative Industries. Three of the students were also offered the chance to work with us to develop editorial content enabling them to gain experience in pitching, writing to a brief, and working with an editor. Throughout the year we also promoted The Open University’s free online courses to Creative UK audiences, and formally endorsed their ‘A freelance career in the creative arts’ course.



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We supported 

We helped the Creative Industries emerge from the pandemic with resilience, innovation, and purpose. From freelancers to start-ups to established organisations across games, film and TV, and the arts, we mentored, supported, and invested in over 600 creative businesses and the freelancers working for them, enabling them to develop their talent and ideas, creating new products, jobs, and businesses. By exposing local creative communities to national networks, we helped to ensure post-pandemic survival and growth for both freelancers and businesses alike.



A highlight was the North of Tyne Culture and Creative Investment Programme, the first of its kind in the UK to offer business support combined with grants, loans, and equity investment. 39 SMEs have participated in business development opportunities, 12 of whom received financial support amounting to £2.6m.

Creative UK's programmes also helped generate business growth in other parts of the country including Wakefield, Cornwall, Plymouth, and Manchester working with key partners from the BFI (funded by the National Lottery) to Manchester Growth Hub, Wakefield Council and Cornwall Council. Programmes included Games Scale Up, helping games leaders grow their businesses and compete on a global stage, Female Founders, providing intensive coaching and workshops, tackling the inequalities faced by female entrepreneurs, and Evolve, preparing screen businesses for investment with mentoring from experts covering commercial planning, financial control and investment.

Our BFI partnership programme, Filming in England, supported a record-breaking 82 feature films and 164 TV dramas to film on location in the English regions outside of London during the post-pandemic production boom, leading to economic benefits estimated at £130m creating 4,000 working days for freelancers across the country. Productions included Mission: Impossible 7, Masters of the Air, Becoming Elizabeth, Dungeons & Dragons, Indiana Jones 5, Andor, Bridgerton (Season 2), Peaky Blinders (Season 6), All Creatures Great and Small (Series 2), The Witcher: Blood Origin, House of the Dragon, The Crown (Season 5), Fast & Furious 10, Wonka and hundreds more, all of whom were able to harness the studio infrastructure, diverse locations, talented crew, and production services expertise available throughout the English regions.

Our film team committed £400k to film and high-end TV production in the regions through our West Midlands Production Fund, including D.I. Ray, the new ITV crime show set in Birmingham, Small Axe, an anthology of stories capturing the experiences of London's West Indian community between 1969 and 1982 directed by Steve McQueen, which won five BAFTAs and an Emmy nomination, Perfect Ten, which was nominated for a Scottish BAFTA, and Benediction which premiered at international festivals. 


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Over 600

creative businesses supported,
mentored or
invested in 




committed to
high-end TV production


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Case studies


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Small Axe

Small Axe is a British anthology film series, created and directed by Steve McQueen. The anthology consists of five films that tell distinct stories about the lives of West Indian immigrants in London from the 1960s to the 1980s

Female Founders

Female Founders

Female Founders Scale Up is a dedicated and prestigious programme for ambitious female founders of screen-based companies.

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North of Tyne programme

Our bespoke business support programme is designed to support businesses and freelancers working in the culture and creative sectors throughout Northumberland, Newcastle and North Tyneside.


Small Axe

Our West Midlands Production Fund (WMPF) was set up with the support of ERDF to encourage and invest in the sustainable production of higher end feature films and TV drama in the region. Small Axe is an anthology of films for BBC1/Amazon Prime from Sir Steve McQueen, two of which filmed in the region. The series went on to win a Golden Globe, BAFTAs and numerous further awards.

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Female Founders

Female Founders Scale Up has entered its third edition this year as the 14 new entrepreneurs embarked on a life-changing journey, to grow and future-proof their businesses. The six-month Female Founders scale up programme offers an in-depth package of support, advice and professional coaching to female business owners working across Film, TV, Animation, Games, Content Production and Tech. Over the previous two years 24 female leaders have gone through the programme with great success; one participant describing the programme as ‘the best professional training and support I have ever received’.  The participants particularly value the 1-2-1 coaching sessions with the programme leader Erica Wolfe-Murray as well as the networking and collaboration opportunities that many Female Founders already taken advantage of. 


North of Tyne 

The Creative UK two-year partnership with the North of Tyne Combined Authority provided a range of investment options. As of September 2022, the programme is halfway through and to date it has offered a range of different financial packages in the form loans and grants. Investment highlights include:

  • E-commerce and digital marketing agency Venture Stream who were awarded £750,000.

  • Early-stage creative company Tiny Dragon Productions received a £25,000 loan through the programme. The owners of Tiny Dragon Productions have developed a successful business model and understand the value of loan investment as opposed to grant in giving them the flexibility to grow their business.

  • Newcastle based, female-founded, purpose-driven strategy and creative agency Do Gooder received a £65,000 loan. The investment and accompanying wrap-around business support will enable the company to hire new staff, create employment opportunities in the North of Tyne area, and develop new data insight tools.

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We invested 

n 2021/22 we invested over £3.53m as loans into early-stage creative companies.  Backing success stories across a range of creative sectors based in the North East, North West and South West of England, our objective was to ensure that investment was available to creative entrepreneurs wherever they are based.

Our Creative Growth Finance Fund, established in partnership with Triodos Bank, provided 10 early-stage and scaling companies with vital growth finance, unlocking an additional £6.5m in private investment. The annual turnover of those we invested in grew by an average of 119%, enabling their long-term survival.

We forged a new relationship with the British Design Fund as part of our commitment to partner with sector-specific funders, which enabled us to invest in nine early-stage purpose-led design businesses tackling a wide range of social, environmental and consumer problems with innovative products.

In response to the growing demand for start-up finance and support across the creative sector, we worked with the British Business Bank, Creative Industries Council and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport to establish a pilot with the Start-Up Loans Company to provide loans of £25k to creative start-ups.

simon clarke moonraker



invested in Creative businesses

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average growth in turnover

in invested companies


Case studies




Moonraker are a VFX studio set up and run by a team of passionate and creative VFX specialists with boundless enthusiasm and years of experience led by Creative Director Simon Clarke and Managing Director Jon Grafton.

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Dimension Studio

Dimension Studio is a leader in the creation of virtual worlds, digital humans, and volumetric content for the entertainment industry.


Venture Stream

Venture Stream was established in 2014 by ecommerce entrepreneur and Harvard graduate Vic Morgan and since then, a strong team of digital professionals has been built.


Bristol-based VFX company, Moonraker received two rounds of investment from our Creative Growth Finance (CGF) fund. The company successfully applied for investment worth £500,000 in 2020 and received a second loan worth £200,000 in 2022. While the latest round of Creative Growth Finance investment was for the development of new IP, Moonraker received further business support from Creative UK to enable it to grow more broadly.

After the £500,000 CGF loan was received, Moonraker was able to access a grant through the New Ideas Fund and to join the Evolve screen business support programme run by Creative UK’s Creative Enterprise scheme. Evolve is a nine-month programme that provides specific and tailored support to screen businesses at the investment stage and is complementary to the investment programme of Creative Growth Finance.

With investment from CGF plus the business mentoring received through Evolve, Moonraker has established itself as a pioneer in the integration of live action footage with visual effects and has recently collaborated with the BBC on Frozen Planet II.


“The funding and support we’ve received from Creative UK have seen us go from strength to strength. It’s allowed us to expand from a small team of two to over twenty employees. We’ve been able to develop our IP plans at speed, and prototype products, and our turnover has risen by over 400%.”

-Simon Clarke, Creative Director at Moonraker VFX

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Dimension Studio 

When we invested £1 million into Dimension Studio in 2022, we were investing in a company that we had already supported through several growth stages. Our
long-standing relationship with Dimension (formerly Hammerhead), has meant they were able to
develop their IP and become established as a world leader in
volumetric capture and at the forefront of the immersive content world. Productions include Balenciaga - Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow video game, Coldplay x BTS
‘My Universe’ holograms, and virtual production services on Disney’s forthcoming Pinocchio film.

With our investment Dimension has been able to grow from a staff of 20 to more than
90 people and is still hiring. Our investment has supported this company to focus in
on some of the more creative aspects of its business and particularly the development
of new IP.


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“Creative UK understands the importance of investing in new forms of creative content and has supported us in reaching the levels of unprecedented growth we’re experiencing today. This further investment enables Dimension to continue to expand its capabilities and advance market opportunities that embrace the metaverse, volumetric filmmaking and virtual production.”

- Simon Windsor, co-founder and co-CEO of Dimension

Venture Stream

Award-winning digital marketing agency, VentureStream was founded in 2014, and has seen continual growth in its turnover, client base and workforce. Based in Newcastle, it is a great example of a company that is benefiting its region, with great cross-company links and local recruitment. We supported VentureStream by creating a tailored investment package that incorporated money from both the Creative Growth Finance fund and the North of Tyne Culture and Creative Investment Programme.


“It’s great to have Creative UK on board as a strategic investor, supporting Venture Stream’s award-winning e-commerce and digital marketing business. With their support, we’re now able to expand our commitment to people-first strategies, including our 4-day work week initiative and creating work for e-commerce and digital marketing freelancers globally through our new Flow marketplace platform. Our team has always been at the heart of our business, and we look forward to continuing our journey with the financial support of Creative UK, one of the leading backers of talent and innovation in the creative and digital economy.”

- Vic Morgan, Founder and CEO of VentureStream


Download the financial report

Something to look back on

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