Designs On New Growth For City24 July 2007 Performing artists, software developers and designers are spearheading the growth of a significant part of Nottingham's economy.
They are key sectors in the creative industries, which now employ 10,000 people in Greater Nottingham working in more than 1,500 businesses.
Now, Nottingham City Council has drawn up a strategy that could help a diverse sector drive the growth of what one survey says is the fourth most creative city in Britain. And it could lead to the development of a 'Designed in Nottingham' brand aimed at flagging up the city's creative talents.
Creative industries have been identified as a growth sector in the national economy because they involve knowledge-based work that has a high value and cannot easily be copied or exported.
Nottingham has existing strengths in a number of areas, and economic development chiefs believe a single strategy for the sector could help it grow further.
Simon Green, head of economic development at the city council, said the sector needed coherence. He said: "Some people may not think that it is 'proper' industry or they may not know much about it, but the fact is that this is a sector that employs people, earns money and is starting to put Nottingham on the map."
The city has found fame through designers like Sir Paul Smith and emerging international film makers such as Shane Meadows.
But it also has a heritage of producing and developing design talent through nationally-recognised courses like those at Nottingham Trent University.
Mr Green said Nottingham had recognisable strengths in at least three areas of creative industry:
Performing arts, where the city has a national status for dance and production-related skills
Software development, mainly of computer games subsequently marketed by larger companies
Design, ranging from fashion to furniture, with students from Nottingham Trent winning national awards.
He said: "Rather than just involve the usual suspects, what we have done here is talk to the private sector, to people actively involved in the sector."
The result is a three-year strategy covering key areas that will be used by the major organisations responsible for funding and activity in the creative industries sector.
Besides the city council, that includes the Greater Nottingham Partnerships, Nottingham Trent University, Broadway Media Centre and Arts Council England.
The strategy will develop:
People - the growth and capture of creative industry talent through the development of courses like those run by Nottingham Trent University
Places - making available space that is suitable for creative industry businesses, such as that at the new Digital Media Centre
Businesses - getting mainstream business support geared up to meet the specific needs of creative industry firms.
Mr Green said:"Over the three years we will measure the number of new businesses and the value that these businesses bring. It is an action plan, it will evolve, but it is already under way.
"There is no new money in this but having a cohesive strategy does mean that it might be easier for us to access new money nationally because we have a clear framework rather than a series of ad hoc projects."
The idea of developing a Designed in Nottingham brand is still in its early stages and Mr Green said icons that represent the city's creative ability have yet to be chosen.
But he points to a national ranking of creative cities - which placed Nottingham fourth - as evidence of the area's strength.
He added: "Creative industries - especially when you look at the design and innovation element - are absolutely critical for a city like Nottingham.
"The creativity has to feed into the mainstream.
"If we had taken more notice of design and innovation in the past then we perhaps wouldn't have had some of the industrial problems that we have experienced."
Source:Nottingham Evening Post|