26/01/2016 12:23 GMT | Updated 26/01/2017 05:12 GMT

Our Creative Industries Help Define Us a Nation - We Must Help Them Stay at the Top of the International League

In the time it takes you to read this article, the UK's creative industries will have generated around £240,000 for the UK economy. That's around £9.6million every hour, and an astounding £84.1billion per year.

The UK's creative industries are without doubt one of our greatest success stories, with names known throughout the world - from Poldark to Grand Theft Auto, Oswald Boateng to Adele and Thomas Heatherwick to Harry Potter - showing the world the very best of our unique brand of creativity.

My department has today published figures that show year on year growth in the sector from 2013 to 2014 was almost 9%, nearly double that of the economy as a whole.

Impressive figures, but not surprising when you think that every year, millions of people visit our world class museums; take in outstanding plays, television and films; marvel at new developments in the visual arts and architecture. Films that were made in the UK, like the latest Bond movie, SPECTRE, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens have dominated cinema screens across the globe. Homegrown TV shows like Sherlock and Downton Abbey are watched around the world while American productions like Game of Thrones are, thanks to the tax incentives we've put in place, being made here in the UK. And British music artists like Sam Smith continue to account for one in seven of all album sales around the world.

But if this is to continue - and I am passionately committed to ensuring it does - we need to make sure we are nurturing the next generation of creative talent in order to guarantee our continued success. I believe strongly that every child should experience a high-quality creative and cultural education throughout their time at school. By encouraging children and young people to understand, appreciate and engage with the incredible wealth of creativity and culture that this nation has, we can help nurture the next generation of writers, artists, actors, games designers and musicians. Industry also has a role to play here and initiatives like the Next Gen Skills Academy and the Digital Schoolhouse are pioneering work to attract young people into the sector. And last week saw the launch of Creative Entrepreneurs - an industry led programme that will resource and inspire the next generation of creative people to start their own businesses.

While the contribution the Creative Industries make to the UK economy is tremendous, to paraphrase Jessie J, it's not (just) about the money. They play an equally, if not more, important role in helping define us and shaping our national identity. "Britishness" is an intangible thing, something that cannot be explained in figures, or measured in fiscal terms.

The wonderfully diverse nature of modern day British society means that we have the most fantastic range of cultures underpinning "British creativity" and our Creative Industries are all the more stronger for it. As Idris Elba and my colleague Ed Vaizey agreed last week, we must harness the talent that diversity in culture gives us - it reflects the real world, and it's up to us as government, directors, recruiters and businesses to grasp this opportunity.

Our creative industries help define us a nation and Government will continue to support this most dynamic, innovative and inspiring group of industries to help them stay at the top of the international league.

John Whittingdale is the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Conservative MP for Maldon