Creative Industries Fuel UK’s Local Economies

creative industries

New research from Nesta and Creative England maps 47 creative clusters across the UK 

Findings reveal 28 percent growth in creative employment in these clusters over seven years.

The creative industries are playing an increasingly important role in local economies across the country, according to new research published today.

In The Geography of Creativity in the UK, Nesta and Creative England identified 47 creative clusters – where creative employment and businesses are co-located – representing three quarters of all creative businesses in the UK. These clusters now employ on average 28% more creative workers than seven years ago. Understanding where creative businesses and employment are based is important if policymakers are to support their growth.

London employs 40 percent of the UK’s creative industry workers and seven of the largest creative clusters are in the south of the country, benefitting from access to a strong local talent and knowledge ecosystem and international connections. However, one in five clusters are in the North of England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also feature and are supported by highly engaged universities, including Cardiff, Glasgow and Newcastle. The Midlands and North of the country have seen substantial growth in creative industry employment.

Creative Slough, Heathrow, Basingstoke, Warrington, Wigan and Luton

‘Hip’ cities and towns like Manchester, Brighton, Liverpool, Bristol or Sheffield have long been renowned for their creative output. This new research confirms their importance and highlights a less well-known group of ‘creative conurbations’ situated along motorway corridors and close to major transport hubs, including Slough and Heathrow, Basingstoke, Warrington and Wigan or Luton.

Although the number of creative businesses within the 47 clusters has grown, pointing to an entrepreneurial explosion, the average size of these businesses has fallen, suggesting policymakers should do more to support their growth. Recommendations include:

  • Supporting the development of clusters outside of London and the South East
  • Continuing efforts to share the benefits of London’s status as a global creative industries hub across the UK
  • Local Enterprise Partnerships and universities should consider what more they can do to address the strengths and weaknesses within their particular area, such as an over reliance on large firms or growing links between graduate talent pools and creative clusters
  • Networks of UK creative industries should strive to maintain their global reach

Juan Mateos-Garcia, Head of Innovation Mapping at Nesta, comments: “The UK’s geography of creativity is diverse and growing. London and other creative cities are very important, but so are other areas which are sometimes overlooked when we talk about creative clusters. A better understanding of their specialism and impact on the local economy will help ensure that these hotspots continue to gain access to the talent and knowledge they need to thrive.”

 Caroline Norbury, Chief Executive at Creative England, said: “Creative England is dedicated to nurturing talented people and their creative ideas – this report clearly shows the huge contribution they make to driving prosperity in communities across the UK. Now, perhaps more than ever before, we need to work together to give our creative talent the backing they need to continue to flourish and grow.”

The Geography of Creativity in the UK: creative clusters, creative people and creative networks is available on request. The report follows the publication of new statistics from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport showing jobs in the creative industries have increased three times faster than the UK average.

The data behind the report is available for policymakers to view at

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