Supporting the growth of Creative Industries

Tom Fleming

How do you support the creative industries to develop and grow and to play a role in your city? It’s a fine balancing act, where on the one hand, the local government can play a nurturing role in supporting the develoment and growth of the sector. Once they recognise that it’s there and once they accept that it’s important and it can play a transitional role for the city economicaly, socially, culturaly, then it’s about engaging with the sector. It is not about trying to do things to the sector, it is about working with the sector.

For example, in East London there used to be a development agency for the cultural and creative industries established to give a shot in the arm to the emergent creative centre. They provided specialist business support, for example they gave advice on business planning management, finance and intellectual property. They also did a lot of work with developing networks, helping people who were young and fresh out of university to meet each other, to develop trading and social relationships. They also played the role of showcasing that creativity of the area to other people. So they played a nurturing, facilitating role.

On the other hand, they couldn’t do this without the creatives themselves playing a very strong role. You can’t just develop policy and expect it to work, you need to work with the creative industry sector. The local authority here learned to let go, they stepped back and it brought the results. I think it’s very important for municipalities to sometimes just step back and let the sector develop on it’s own terms. Sometimes it’s the best to do just a few easy things, such as making sure there are affordable work spaces for creativity to flourish. To make sure that when people develop creative projects, such as filming or visual art projects, that they are not discouraged from that, the municipality has an approach to saying yes to such initiatives: yes we think you are important, we won’t stand in your way, we will cut the red tape for you, we want you to be working in our city, we want you to be playing a role in the future. 

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Tom Fleming

Tom Fleming

Director of Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy in East London, United Kingdom

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