Creative regional ‘superclusters’ could match London – PEC report

The predominance of London and the South-East as a powerhouse for the creative industries could be challenged around the regions and nations with policy intervention and collaboration, according to a new report from the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC).

Currently almost 70% of the UK’s creative industries are centred on to the South-Eastern quarter, making it a “supercluster” which attracts talent, investment, infrastructure and supports knowledge exchange and fuels economic growth, but the potential to emulate the soft power of London's growing.

The report, Geographies of Creativity, the first in a State of the Nations series to come from PEC, identifies seven new areas around the UK that have supercluster potential.

The research has concentrated on three geographical levels: microclusters, clusters and creative corridors.

Microclusters are, for example, small independent creative operations in areas such as Livingstone and Falkirk in Scotland; a cluster could be Cardiff’s film and TV concentration.

“Clusters and microclusters of creative activity exist across the whole country, not just in the large urban centres” said Josh Siepel of the University of Sussex Business School. “They could play a unique role in reducing the UK’s regional inequality”. The new data analysis, he said, shows that microclusters are fuelling growth in the larger creative clusters, “making an argument for policy intervention at the hyperlocal level to bolster activity already taking place”.   

The report  comes at a time of regional devolution and the creation of new mayoral authorities, with the creative sector identified as a key growth industry across the political spectrum.

There are also several places in the North of England showing similar characteristics to London where policy intervention would help wider regional development, making a creative corridor such as one agreed recently by the mayors of Liverpool, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and North of Tyne along with the BBC, ITV and Channel 4.

“An enduring feature of the UK's creative economy is its heavy concentration in London and the South-East of England” said Hasan Bakhshi, director of PEC. “However, previous research has pointed to pockets, of microclusters and larger clusters of creative industries activity right across the UK’s nations and regions.”

The report says that creative clusters are the growth engine of the UK’s creative industries, and the seven broader areas in the UK where creative activity could be supercharged.  It further suggests that there are potentially seven broader geographic areas in the UK where this activity could be supercharged through a creative corridor that links activity through targeted intervention and investment.  An example was recently proposed for the North

This model was proposed for the North of England last month with the launch of the Northern Creative Corridor Charter signed by the mayors in Liverpool, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and the North of Tyne, as well as major creative organisations including the BBC, ITV and Channel 4.

Image courtesy of Film and TV School Wales

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