‘We’re beholden to nobody’ – Creative Industries Federation chief John Kampfner talks post-Brexit negotiations

Creative Industries Federation chief talks post-Brexit negotiations and independence

The chief executive of the Creative Industries Federation (CIF) has detailed how the national membership organisation has “been incessantly in contact” with the government to ensure the sector is not overlooked during post-EU referendum negotiations.

Speaking at an event in Edinburgh to celebrate the creative industries on Tuesday (23 August), CIF chief John Kampfner said that ensuring representation for the industry “was a daunting enough” task pre-Brexit, adding: “I cannot tell you how extraordinarily difficult and challenging – but also in some strange bizarre way exhilarating – the events of the last two months have been.”

Founded in 2014 by British designer Sir John Sorrell, the CIF was launched as a single independent voice to bring together all of the UK’s arts, creative industries and cultural educators. The group is funded by its members, of which there are now more than 1000 and who come from a variety of backgrounds including advertising, architecture, gaming, publishing, design and more.

Some of its associates gathered at the reception in Edinburgh yesterday evening, which was hosted by Fergus Linehan, director of Edinburgh International Festival.

During the reception, Kampfner said: “This sector that defines the UK and all its constituent parts, and all its great cities, has always punched below its weight in terms of representation with governments, local authorities and devolved governments, and in parts of the media as well.”

“It was time to produce an independent non-governmental fighting force to represent the commercial side, the non-commercial side and the education – which is the absolute lifeblood that feeds both,” he said of CIF’s launch, “and to give it the heft that is has always deserved and never had.”

Ahead of the EU vote, 96 per cent of CIF members said they would choose to stay in the EU, and after the result the group released a statement saying that it wanted to ensure that issues raised by its members through throughout the EU campaign “were understood and represented by those negotiating the new future for Britain,” including access to markets, access to regional and sector-specific funding, strong IP protection and freedom of movement of talent.

In the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum the advertising industry scrambled to assess the damage, and advantages of the result. In London, which voted Remain as a city, mayor Sadiq Khan has been at the forefront of a 'London is Open' global campaign to encourage visitors and investment to the capital.

Kampfner conceded that the sector’s view on Brexit was “widely known,” and that since the result was announced on 24 June CIF has been continuing in its mission.

“By 11 o’clock on the Friday morning, bleary-eyed, we said ‘right, the deed is done we’ve got to get on with it’. And we have, I hope you’ll agree, got on with it,” he told attendees, pointing to a series of events the federation has been running around the country to bring creatives together in order to come to decisions about the way ahead.

The events will cumulate with a presentation to government from CIF and its partners at the end of September.

"Everything has been for the sector, for the UK’s identity, for Scotland’s identity, for the future health and security and prosperity and growth of the creative industries and the arts," noted Kampfner, adding that CIF was "first" to meet with newly-appointed culture secretary Karen Bradley on her first day in office.

"We are on their case, we’re beholden to nobody – we don’t take any government money and we wouldn’t even if we were offered it. We are staunchly independent and proud to be so working with our partners representing the creative industries across the UK."

Fiona Hyslop, Scotland's secretary for culture, tourism and external affairs, also took to the stage at the event, saying that she had chaired a successful meeting with Kampfner that morning.

"There’s a lot of deep and meaningful thinking has to take place in a very short period of time but I think we’ve got the talent and the ability to do that," she asserted, saying that one of the outcomes would be "a permanent flexible studio space for screen in Scotland".

"We’re also pressing for a better deal for Scotland for the BBC charter," said Hyslop.

Voters in Scotland chose to remain in the EU by a 62 per cent majority, and Hyslop promised that the Scottish government would "make sure" that their interests were protected as it moved forward in discussions and negotiations.

"But, be under no uncertain terms, the emphasis that we will have is not just about what we can get out of the rest of the world, but what we can offer and share," she finished.

"That's why cultural and creative industries and festivals like this are not just a contribution to our own Edinburgh economy or our Scottish economy or our creative industries economy, this is our contribution to the world."

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