Creative freelancers in a world of growth- and place-based development

Victoria Barker, Nick Henry, Kevin Broughton, Paul Sissons, Peter Dickinson

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


The paper continues our exploration of the variegated contributions of creative freelancers – the direct and indirect contributions and impacts they and their work make to local and regional economies and places (Henry et. al., 2021a, 2021b). It takes as context two key aspects of the creative industries: firstly the well noted but problematic status as one of the fastest growing parts of the UK economy (Banks 2018), and secondly the significant proportion (up to 47%) of freelance creative jobs in the UK, a rate close to triple that for freelancers in the economy as a whole (Creative UK 2023).
Whilst the significance of creative output and occupations to the economy is frequently celebrated, Banks has pointed out that the primary focus on economic growth obscures the conditions required to achieve this goal; not least limitations on inclusivity and the “intensified exploitation of more “flexibly”-deployed labour” (2018: 370). This sits alongside limited environmental consideration and a lack of consideration of what he calls the ontology of culture – how we think about what it is and does, and how its politics and structures might offer different approaches to growth and enrichment. Whilst Banks’ discussion does not specifically privilege freelance workers, these issues of inclusion and contribution, in relation to the creative economy overall, and place-based growth economies particularly, are useful background to this discussion.
The paper builds on a study exploring the contribution of freelancers to the economic and place-based impacts of the creative industries in late 2019. The study was set up in response to the limited knowledge on the economic processes and experiences of this ‘hidden economic population’ of creative freelancers, and the Creative Industries Federation 2017 call for government and policymakers to recognise fully this distinctive characteristic of the UK creative industries - and to provide appropriate support. In total, 84 creative freelancers were interviewed across three localities between April and October 2020. The empirical work sought to investigate the business models of creative freelancers and their relationship to (local) labour markets, creative networks and supply chains, innovation ecosystems and cultural ecologies – as well as identifying the challenges that they face.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusIn preparation - 9 Nov 2023
EventInstitute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Annual Conference 2023: Sustainable Growth in Unexpected Places - Aston University, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Duration: 8 Nov 202310 Nov 2023


ConferenceInstitute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Annual Conference 2023
Abbreviated titleISBE 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


Dive into the research topics of 'Creative freelancers in a world of growth- and place-based development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this