Creative City Networks Review

Earlier this year, Creative Scotland commissioned EKOS to study the impact of three creative city networks, Creative Dundee, which I co-founded; Creative Edinburgh and Creative Stirling. Each network is independent, focussing on their own distinctive aims and objectives tailored to each of the three cities and has received funding support from Creative Scotland.

The review intended to provide information on the impact of each network on its respective city, identifying potential for future development, and any lessons that might be adopted in other cities.

Summarising the Review

A summary of the review can be downloaded here and some of the key highlights are included below:

Operational Models

Each of the three projects has evolved a distinctive model, albeit with some common characteristics. In particular, each network shares the following:

  • a broad and inclusive focus that seeks to encourage collaboration right across the spectrum of creative activity;
  • an emphasis on largely informal styles of networking activities and events;
  • a ‘bottom up’ approach that is firmly grounded in the needs of the sector and maintains close connection to the creative community in each city;
  • a strong feel of being ‘of the sector’ rather than ‘for the sector’, a function of fact that those leading each network come themselves from the creative community – this enables a high degree of trust;
  • a commitment to working in partnership across the creative industries and the public sector; provision of information via digital means;
  • and a focus on signposting to existing business support rather than direct provision.

Impacts

All three projects are reportedly creating benefits for participant businesses and practitioners as well as for their wider constituencies (sector and city). In each base, the feedback from beneficiaries was positive, and it is clear that the networks are providing valuable opportunities for cross-sector networking and facilitating collaboration across disciplines. This is entirely in line with their organisational ambitions.

It is also worth noting that even though economic impact is not an explicit objective of any of the projects, evidence was found of some such benefit, even if modest. This simply underlines the important role of networking in supporting growth in the creative sector.

In fact, this last point is part of the central rationale for these projects, and three issues are important in this respect:

  • contrary to popular myth, the creative process is not a solitary pursuit. It is more often a collaborative effort across disciplines. Networking is an essential means of facilitating this collaboration;
  • innovation is what drives growth and development in the creative industries, and the very process of innovation is also highly collaborative and interdisciplinary. Networking is again crucial in creating the opportunities for innovation to coalesce;
  • the creative industries congregate at regional rather than national levels. It makes good sense to support networking at a local (city) level.

To read more from the report, download the summary report: Mapping Three Creative City Networks – A Review

Presentation slides from a recent event which includes some of the statistics from the report:

This post was originally featured on Creative Scotland’s website, here.

The networks are keen to work with other creative place networks, globally – please do get in touch if you would like to chat about this. We also have this Facebook page set up to encourage better networking(!): facebook.com/CreativeCityNetwork