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Hotspots in the UK for Creativity
1 July 2020
Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged many businesses in the creative sector across the UK, some have not only survived but thrived during this period. This is thanks to the services they already offered suddenly being very much in demand, or through some agile, creative thinking by adapting and offering new solutions to an ever-shifting client need.
the creative sector
One thing is for certain however, over recent years, the UK creative sector has outperformed many other sectors in the economy (5 x faster that the rate of the UK economy as a whole), generating significant employment opportunities, creating first-class output and in doing so, ensuring the UK remains at the forefront of global creative innovation and economic success.
A staggering 1 in 8 UK businesses operate within the creative industries, directly employing over 2 million people, although this is extended to approximately 3.2 million people (9.6% of all UK jobs) when considering the wider creative economy. This ecosystem is now interwoven into the very fabric of the length and breadth of the UK. With a third of all people working within creative industries being registered as self-employed, the impact of COVID-19 cannot be underestimated. Whilst there is a skew towards creative sector employment being in London, 75% of roles are outside the capital, with a number of pockets around the UK that are recognised creative hot spots.
Bristol & Bath
The region’s creatives are estimated to be 50% more productive than the UK average with an anticipated annual growth of 20%. Enabled by a developed infrastructure with support from local Government, creative businesses in this region have thrived over recent years. The area is a key centre for TV, film and animation, and associated technology and support services, not to mention the growing agency network in this part of England.
For England’s second city, the creative sector here is still very much up and coming. Developments in areas such as Digbeth, the Jewellery Quarter and more recently Stirchley, are accelerating this. For the wider ‘Createch’ sector, Birmingham is home to 6,000 tech firms employing 40,000 people with 25% of the UK’s gaming workforce based locally.
Manchester & Salford
Research from innovation foundation Nesta, last year showed the creative sector of Manchester, from architecture to design, film to digital and everything in between, is growing faster than any UK region outside London. Development such as the high-profile Media City in Salford have supported this, but there are high levels of entrepreneurship supporting the growth of digital technologies.
Back in 2012, industry title ‘The Drum’ was touting Leeds as the new creative hub. Channel 4’s much publicised move to the city certainly accelerated this, enabling the spawning of a plethora of inter-connecting businesses to develop from the boost in infrastructure. From a digital perspective, Leeds has a flourishing digital creative sector, with 20 of the fastest-growing tech companies in the North of England, according to the Northern Tech 100, and 13 of the Prolific North’s Top 50 PR agencies.
As the second fastest growing sector in Scotland after energy, Scotland’s creative industries are estimated to support around £9 billion of activity within the wider Scottish economy, contributing £5.5 billion to Scotland’s GDP. With support from both Central and Local Government, particularly to boost film production capabilities, the anticipation is that the creative sector will continue to be a vital component of the Scottish economy.
Where Northern Ireland was showing some encouraging signs of development in the creative sector, following the global success of Game of Thrones, the industry has gone from strength to strength. The region has a flourishing animation sector, with industry leading companies offering VFX and state-of-the-art technology solutions.