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Creativity in the city

Did you know the Government has a manifesto for making life better by supporting UK creativity and innovation? This support funnels down to the creative sector in Cambridge. But destinations like London, Bristol and Glasgow attract creative talent because they are renowned for flourishing creative sector. Cambridge has an abundance of talent to tap into – so why don’t we hold a similar status?

Where it flows from

There are a number of bodies supporting the UK’s creative sector. The Arts Council offers funding for the cultural creative sector – in arts, museums and libraries. Programmes like Creative Europe, which provides funding for the culture and creative sectors, and Creative Industry Finance, a programme to help creative enterprises gain financial investment, are at our fingertips.

The public sector’s Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP) works with partners to help drive economic growth. Signpost 2 Grow is an action-focused initiative leading the way for Cambridge’s creative sector. The LEP’s Laura Welham-Halstead explains, “Signpost 2 Grow was created by the LEP to make it easier for businesses to connect with the help, advice and funding they need to grow. There’s actually a lot more support out there for businesses than you may think, and our team of Navigators can expertly connect you to the right places for free”.

Reaping the benefits

So who is benefiting from these schemes? Collusion, a Cambridge not-for-profit company, has received support from the likes of the Arts Council and the LEP. Simon Poulter, one of Collusion’s creators and directors, says: “The creative industries are still one of the strongest areas of growth for the UK due to our willingness to open up the frontiers between business, academia and artistic practice. Support from Arts Council England, the LEP and companies such as ARM and Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) enable us to achieve impact and scale with a relatively small team”.

Chris Owen, Head of Cambridge School of Art at ARU, says there’re a lot of creative initiatives associated with the university, such as REACTOR, a project that uses games to tackle serious topics, and Brains Eden – the UK’s largest student gaming festival, held annually at ARU.

Making a place for talent

With so much activity in the public sector, why do we experience such a brain drain in the city? Owen believes it’s partly due to proximity to London.

Although there are many companies in Cambridge’s creative sector, there aren’t many large enterprises with graduate schemes, as well as limited incubator spaces and studio space. “If local government could help create incubation spaces for graduates, then we might find young, bright talent would be more inclined to remain,” Owen says.

Perhaps more answers for inspired graduates could be the key, leading us on the path to obtaining a more vibrant and creatively acclaimed status.

Raise your voice

Cultivating the creative sector in Cambridge isn’t the city’s primary focus, but there’s a wealth of innovation and collaboration here. So why aren’t we making more of a noise about it? We know creative brilliance when we see it, and we need to shout about it more. It just takes one person to start a wave; to influence a mindset. Let’s make a noise about cultivating creativity in Cambridge.

Image credit: Ben Prest for Collusion