AHRC is continuing funding for the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) in order to ensure there is a sustained and stable investment for the sector over this critical period.
Over the past four years, the PEC has established itself as a:
- unique type of investment for the creative industries, balancing robust academic research with agile, reactive policy and industry priorities
- UK ‘centre of excellence’ on research and evidence for informing creative industries policy.
The next phase of the PEC will build on this success, growing the evidence base by:
- addressing industry and government identified priorities
- advancing research into the longer-term challenges and opportunities facing the sector.
It will do this in three primary ways by:
- producing its own new research
- acting as a platform for policy-relevant research produced by others
- engaging policymakers through embedding researchers in policymakers’ planning and design cycles.
If successful in carrying out these activities, the PEC will continue to bring about changes in public policy that recognise the most important needs, challenges and opportunities for the UK’s creative industries, thereby contributing to their renewed economic success.
Moving from Nesta
Nesta, the innovation foundation, has been a proud host of the PEC since 2018. However, they have recently embarked on a new strategy that sees them focus their energy and resources on three innovation ‘missions’, relating to the early years, health and sustainability.
This strategic shift means that Nesta has decided not to continue as the host of the PEC after 31 May 2023.
Platform for policy-relevant research
As demonstrated over its first phase, the PEC has a critical role in being a visible, ‘go-to’ place for the latest evidence and information about the sector.
For example, the PEC has:
- reviewed the evidence in areas like skills, creative clusters and international trade
- played a critical role in the early stages of the pandemic in highlighting relevant surveys and collecting and analysing data on the impact of COVID-19 on the sector.
The PEC will also have the budget to fund external research and partner with other organisations to co-commission research, which it will then ensure is made available and visible through the PEC’s communications and policy functions.
The PEC will continue to balance policy work and academic research.
PEC vision and objectives
Fundamentally, the next phase of the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) will still aim to deliver on its original objectives.
However, learning from the past four years of the PEC’s operation and the new, and constantly shifting, context in which the PEC is operating, means that AHRC and the PEC’s core team are taking this opportunity to refine the structure, operation and thematic focus of the PEC.
With input from its key stakeholders, the PEC produced a plan for AHRC outlining proposed changes to the current PEC. which will maximise its impact and deliver on its continued ambition to be a UK centre of excellence on research and evidence for informing creative industries policy.
Part of this will involve an aim to refocus the PEC’s thematic priorities to match where the PEC can add most value, while aligning them with the plans of industry bodies. These bodies include the Creative Industries Council and the developing Creative Industries Sector Vision being led by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
These are key stakeholders for the PEC as:
- they have been over the first phase of its operation
- the PEC has worked closely with them both to understand the priorities for policy-relevant research, and to ensure that research and evidence is made available to policymakers and industry stakeholders.
The PEC will also continue to have a role working with DCMS in shaping and helping to implement the sector vision. However, as has been the case throughout its first phase, the PEC engages with a very broad base of stakeholders, policymakers, industry representatives and researchers in order to fulfil its role. In its next phase, the PEC is looking to build on networks, such as its Industry Champions and International Council, to ensure it is drawing on the expertise of a diverse range of stakeholders.
It is also aimed to enable the PEC to complement the work of UKRI and wider investments in the creative industries, both in terms of forging relationships with existing investments and supporting the evidence for future investments. The anticipated thematic priorities are currently envisaged to be:
- creative workforce issues and education
- research and development, and design and innovation (including clusters)
- arts, culture and heritage.
The focus on these thematic priorities is partly informed by which areas are covered by existing UK centres of excellence, but will not rule out other topics from continuing to be researched in individual PEC-funded projects. These include:
- intellectual property
- public service broadcasting
- access to finance
- business models.
Given their importance to the sector across multiple themes, there will also be a continued research focus on equality, diversity and inclusion and environmental sustainability, which will cut across all of the PEC’s thematic priorities. It is envisaged that these individual PEC-funded projects will be sourced from a diverse and inclusive PEC network of UK researchers.
The PEC’s sustainability planning process looked in part at the themes which remained a high priority for the sector, where it would add most value and offer a distinct contribution alongside other existing centres of expertise. Whilst this direction of travel has been developed, it is expected that the host institution will help work through with the PEC Director how best to refine the PEC model to address these themes.
It will also have a role in working with the PEC Director to refine the mechanisms for supporting the PEC’s wider commissioned and other research activities, which will stretch beyond these four central themes. The focus on thematic priorities will not prevent other topics, such as regulation, intellectual property, public service broadcasting and business models, from continuing to be researched in individual PEC-funded projects.
To serve its continued ambition, the PEC also intends to revise and refine its strategic and operational design principles for the next phase of funding, learning from the successes and challenges of its first phase.
Strategic design principles
These principles are to:
- optimise its design for research excellence and policy influence that meets external stakeholder expectations
- enable the PEC to maintain its distinct identity while ensuring it is fully integrated into the research and development infrastructure for policy, industry and research communities across the UK’s creative industries
- deepen its translational activities between DCMS, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and HM Treasury (HMT), and between these government departments and UKRI or AHRC, including existing and proposed new UKRI investments in the creative industries
- meet regional and national policy needs
- allow the PEC to build on its international work and networks
- allow the PEC to continue to build and develop novel knowledge co-creation processes and forums (for example, Industry Champions or International Council), and new knowledge products (for example, Policy and Insights briefings)
- agree governance arrangements that continue to bring together policymakers, industry and academia (necessary to ensure the PEC has continued access to key stakeholders).
Operational design principles
These principles are:
- a smaller number of partners (a PEC with less moving institutional parts and less fragmentation)
- a better resourced core team including its policy unit
- a strong strategic fit between the PEC’s core team and the PEC’s host institution
- a significant budget dedicated to commissioning individual academics, teams of academics and research consultancies, with agile yet robust procurement processes
- a focus on refining and deepening the PEC’s key strategic partnerships, allowing for expanded models of co-commissioning and new dissemination partnerships
- fewer fractional posts in delivery partner roles.
The number of co-investigators is yet to be determined and will be for the PEC Director and new host organisation to establish.
Benefits and impact
A further major aim for the next phase of the PEC will be to ensure that the impact of its work is enhanced, and that clear benefits are being accrued from its activities. Existing benefit statements for the PEC are as follows and these map across to its current objectives:
- creating new connections and richer knowledge exchange between industry, academics and policymakers, and demonstrably producing, and effectively communicating, more timely and policy-relevant research
- developing research, datasets, resources and insights that shape and improve the overall quality of the UK evidence base
- becoming recognised nationally and internationally as the pre-eminent source for authoritative, independent evidence on creative industries policy issues
- building and implementing a truly inclusive research centre reaching the widest range of key creative industries’ stakeholders
- the PEC uses its policy recommendations to demonstrably affect creative industries policy change in the UK in years two, three, four and five of its funded life.
Evaluation of current PEC phase
Additionally, an evaluation of the current phase of the PEC, as part of the wider Creative Industries Clusters programme, is currently underway and its impact is being assessed through six themes:
- establishing a research agenda that represents policy priorities and evidence gaps
- producing diverse research outputs that are timely, relevant and accessible and lead to new partnerships
- disseminating research findings amongst policymakers, industry and international stakeholders
- informed UK policymakers, industry and the academic research community
- recognition of the PEC as the ‘go to’ entity for evidence on the creative industries
- recognition of the creative industries.
Whilst progress has been made in all these areas in the first phase of the PEC, it is expected that the next phase of the PEC will be an opportunity to ensure that these, and other benefits from this investment, will be enhanced and that the renewed vision and objectives for the PEC will lend themselves to impact being at the heart of what the PEC delivers for policymakers, industry and researchers.
The new host will be expected to work with the current PEC Director to consider how best to meet that ambition.
The main outcomes of the sustainability plan are set out in the expression of interest in terms of the structure and future vision for the PEC. The sustainability plan was produced for AHRC as the PEC’s funder.
However, we would strongly recommend that prospective bidders set up a meeting with the current PEC Director and AHRC in order to discuss more detail of the sustainability planning process and its outcomes.
More detail will be made available in terms of the sustainability plan and other documentation to the selected host once stage one has concluded and when formally commissioned to bid to AHRC for funding for the next phase of the PEC.
Core PEC team
The expectation is that the new host organisation would both act as the host of the PEC and incorporate the core team. This includes the current PEC Director.
The information below (also represented visually in the attached guidance document) sets out the evolving core team structure, which includes both roles that already exist within the PEC as well as proposed new roles under the revised PEC structure. This represents a shift in terms of structure but also proposes the introduction of key new roles which will bolster the core PEC team and enable the refined strategic and operational approach planned for the second stage.
The model and infrastructural support for incorporating the core team should be set out by prospective hosts in their expression of interest.
The following posts are part of the Management Board, with who they manage in the core PEC team (excluding the Research Partners) listed underneath:
- Centre Director (supported by an Executive Assistant role)
- manages the Head of Research and Deputy Director
- Head of Research (new role)
- manages two Postdoctoral Researchers (new roles), the Network Manager and three Research Partners as part of a separate consortium
- Deputy Director or Operations Director (new role)
- manages the Head of Communications (job share), Head of Policy and Head of Operations)
- Head of Communications (job share)
- manages the Communications Officer and Events Officer (new role, 0.6 FTE)
- Head of Policy
- manages three Policy Officers (with two new international roles)
- Head of Operations
- manages the Finance and Admin Manager.
Core Research Partners and a Research Network (involving grantees and co-commissioned network) will work directly with the core PEC team and Management Board.
Full guidance document (DOCX, 124KB)