NiTRO Creative Matters

Perspectives on creative arts in higher education

Connecting the dots across the creative picture

By Lee Hornsby — Creative UK champions, connects, supports, and invests in creative people and businesses. We’re a group of diverse and inclusive professionals who believe in the power of the creative industries to change lives, placing creativity at the heart of the UK’s culture, economy and education system.

Formerly Creative Industries Federation, our membership network is comprised of thousands of individuals from creative organisations, businesses, and educational institutions throughout the UK.

This includes major creative and cultural institutions but also creative freelancers, practitioners and microbusinesses that make up most the UK’s creative industries. We also work alongside numerous other creative trade bodies, and representative organisations – to align, mobilise and lobby together, and with consistency.

The ambition of the Federation was to give a unified, political clout to a sector that had been the fastest growing part of the UK economy over the previous decade but had never punched above its weight with government and policymakers. We’ve certainly made significant strides since our inception back in 2014, strengthened further by the coming together of the Federation and Creative England at the end of 2019, with the formal rebrand of both entities into Creative UK in 2021.

We operate on a few key principles:

  • We are influential advocates on the issues that matter most to our creative community, including but not limited to creative careers, skills and qualifications.

  • We bring together our members to facilitate valuable connections and collaborations that generate new ideas and foster both artistic and commercial successes.

  • By protecting the success of our sector, the fastest growing in the UK, we contribute to the strength of the UK economy as a whole.

Our footprint in and on behalf of the UK’s creative sectors is now impactful and influential, but only after years of advocacy, persistence, collaboration and then growth.

And collaboration really is crucial, particularly for the creative industries.

We know we have a unique ecology and make-up; there are nine creative sub-sectors, intrinsically connected yet each with its own challenges and opportunities. A third of our workforce is self-employed (double the national average and much higher across certain sub-sectors). 90% of creative businesses employ 9 people or fewer and 1 in 10 new start-ups are creative businesses. All these facts drive our creativity and innovation. Yet it can also make us seem fragmented and a little hard to grasp, even to ourselves at times!

It makes our mission to connect and collaborate all the more vital.

Not only do we connect people and organisations together and into our work, it’s also important that we’re connecting the dots across the bigger, creative picture in the broadest sense; drawing lines through our conversations around the importance of creative education, skills and enterprise, into protecting and nurturing the creative talent pipeline that will fuel our sectors and our economic growth and contributions in the future. Advocating on behalf of the myriad of self-employed creators across the UK, so that they can continue to create and benefit their communities economically and otherwise. Ensuring our sectors are invested in and recognised for both their innovation in new ways of engaging with audiences and tackling the biggest problems we all face as a society.

All these priorities and angles (and there are many more) are important in and of themselves – yet they are all part of the same conversation where it comes to truly unlocking the potential of our creative sectors and the people working in them. Tackling them in silos is counterintuitive. And so, it is imperative to us bring all those things into one place and under one roof. It makes our case more compelling and more cohesive. And then people start to notice and listen.


As Senior Development & Partnerships Manager, Talent & Skills, Lee Hornsby oversees Creative UK’s diverse Higher Education and Further Education membership network to drive ongoing collaboration and engagement with the work the organisation do across the creative industries, careers, and education. He works closely with internal and external colleagues where it comes to key advocacy, research, and campaign activity.

Prior to joining Creative UK, Lee has worked in leadership and marcomms roles in the charity, HE and arts sectors, with a particular focus on young people. He also has a degree in Television Production and has worked in the industry as a runner, researcher, and editor.

Abut Creative UK

We connect, we invest, we support, and we champion brilliance – fighting for the opportunity for all to thrive creatively

We believe in the power of creativity and the creative industries to change lives, placing creativity at the heart of the UK’s culture, economy, and education system. Our goal is simple: to cultivate a world where creativity is championed, valued, and fundamentally nurtured.

More from this issue

More from this issue

By Jenny Wilson — The landscape has shifted for many in tertiary creative arts. COVID has focused government attention and funding towards the health and science areas, and at the same time changes to the student fee structures have disadvantaged those in the creative arts, social sciences and particularly the humanities.
By Claire Watson — It is easy to lament the chronic underfunding of the arts in Australia. Some may mistake the tireless production of content for festivals, exhibition tours and online programs as evidence of a healthy and robust industry. Optimism and impactful advocacy are, of course, necessities in the current climate.
By Genevieve Jacobs — I grew up in and have lived most of my life in NSW wheat country. From the wide expanses of West Wyalong to the rolling, fertile hills at Wallendbeen, the places of my heart are dotted with the familiar architecture of silos.
By Lucy Brown — Strides have been made to tackle the lack of gender equality within the screen industry but despite this only 14% of all directors are women, 27% producers, 20% writers, 17% editors and 7% cinematographers –statistics that have barely changed in 20 years (Calling the Shots).
By Professor Kit Wise — ACUADS, The Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools is the national peak body for the university visual arts, crafts and design disciplines. ACUADS represents over 20 Australian university art and design faculties, schools and departments and other academic units offering university degrees at undergraduate and postgraduate levels; as well as Vocational Education providers and private institutions.
By Jamie Lewis — When I completed my undergraduate studies in art school in Singapore, I remember thinking I knew the theatre that I didn’t want to make, and not the theatre I wanted to make. I then lapped up the opportunity to undertake a postgraduate diploma in Australia a year later.
By Professor Vanessa Tomlinson — The Creative Arts Research Institute began at Griffith University in July of 2021, in the middle of a pandemic which has caused profound disruptions to all our research; both in the tertiary sector and the arts sector.