The Independents – Britain’s new cultural entrepreneurs

A new breed of Independents accounts for a growing share of the employment and output in some of the fastest growing sectors of the British economy: cultural industries such as design, fashion, multimedia and Internet services. These Independents are mainly in their twenties and thirties. They run microbusinesses or are self-employed freelancers. They are often producers, designers, retailers and promoters at the same time. Independents already account for 6 per cent of employment in large British cities and their numbers are rising. Their main assets are creativity, skill, ingenuity and imagination. Across Britain, thousands of young Independents are working from their bedrooms and garages, workshops and run-down offices, hoping that they will come up with the next Hotmail or Netscape, the next Lara Croft or Diddy Kong, the next Wallace and Gromit or Notting Hill.One of the main findings of this research – based on dozens of interviews with the new Independents in four British cities – is that there is a ‘missing middle’ in public policy. Policymakers, both national and local, know little about this new generation of entrepreneurs – how they work, where they come from, their distinctive needs – nor how to interact with them. This policy gap has to be closed – to help provide these new cultural entrepreneurs with a firmer base to build upon.

This report, published by Demos in 1999, forecast the rise of cultural and creative entrepreneurs as one of the most dynamic forces in the British economy.


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