A new report from PEC (the Creative Industries Policy & Evidence Centre led by Nesta) says creative firms in Devon and Cornwall were resilient and agile during the pandemic, but like many other rural UK areas, these regions need investment in infrastructure to help small businesses scale-up, innovate and grow.
The report is part of making the case for increased investment that recognises the distinctive position of geographically dispersed, rural creative industries SMEs in the UK, that face unique challenges to their growth and innovation. It points to the need for more support for such regions in terms of access to skills, transport links, and coordinated creative industry networks.
Dr Lucy McFadzean, Research Associate at The University of Exeter, who carried out the research, said:
“Whilst the seaside towns and villages of Devon and Cornwall are bustling at this time of year, our research shows that creative businesses in the region need more year-round investments and opportunities to thrive.
"We saw that many of Devon and Cornwall’s creative businesses were really resilient over the pandemic, accessing new online audiences and clients and benefitting from COVID support funds that were not reliant on strict parameters like business density. This showed us the benefits of creative industries investment in a region where applying for and accessing funding is historically low.
"In a rural, dispersed region, those we spoke to highlighted the need for animated sector networks, flexible creative apprenticeships, and better regional infrastructure.”
The often project-based nature of creative industry work is another factor that can make it difficult for firms to provide full-time employment. The researchers call for more investment in flexible apprenticeships specifically in creative industry occupations that would allow employment across multiple creative small businesses over a set period. They also suggest there is still a need for creative courses at further and higher education level to support more industry experience in local creative businesses so that young people graduate with the skills needed.
The report ‘Creative Industries Innovation in Seaside Resorts and Country Towns’ by Dr Lucy McFadzean, Professor Gabriella Giannachi, and Joanne Evans is published by the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC), supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
Read the research