bristol targets 20% creative growth


Bristol Engine Shed

Above: The Engine Shed - one of the hi-tech spaces for businesses in Bristol.

The Mayor of Bristol in west England has set ambitious goals for the city's clusters of creative businesses including 20% annual growth and an improved international profile.

Creative organisations, including the world-famous Aardman animation studios, the BBC and dozens of smaller branding, digital and tech companies, make up an estimated 10% of the local economy, or a workforce of approximately 16,000 people. (See more about the region's creative infrastructure here).

But the city's mayor, George Ferguson, believes that by working with nearby Bath, Bristol can offer a credible alternative to London for creative organisations, including overseas investors. 

Speaking at the recent Creative Bristol event, which gathered representatives from across the city's creative sectors, Ferguson said: "What's not to like about the creative industry? It's about as clean and exciting as any industry and we are punching above our weight in it."

The mayor, who plans to seek re-election in 2016, has pledged to work to lift the city's international profile and invited creatives to let him know about any problems he could help solve for them, as well as successes. 

He also identified the city's quality of life, creative resources and reputation for fun, as evidenced by the giant water slide recently created in one of its steepest streets, as part of its attraction for creative enterprises.

Media coverage of the water slide in Park Street attracted 600m viewers, Ferguson said, adding, “That’s getting on for about a tenth of the world’s population.”

The Creative Bristol event was co-hosted by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising and Creative Skillset, in partnership with West of England Local Enterprise (LEP), Bristol Media and Creative England. It forms part of a nationwide tour to celebrate UK creativity.

Participants in Bristol included McCann Bristol, Auroch Digital,, MediaClash, Icon Films, Aardman Animation and the Creative Industries Council. 

Ideas discussed included:

  • increased co-operation with local universities to ensure course meet the needs of the creative industries
  • more affordable office space for creative start-ups
  • more cross-sector networking and the development of a more coherent, overarching story about Bristol.

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