2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Research Background
2.2. Creative Networks as an Object of Research
- City/regional network organisations;
- Working with (multiple) creative industries sectors;
- Rooted in and working for a city or region;
- In operation for a minimum of 1 year (for analysis purposes);
- Working for both creative individuals and organisations.
3.1. Commonalities and Differences between Creative Networks
3.2. Value Network Mapping
- Government, which includes both UK government agencies and bodies as well as regional and local government agencies and bodies;
- Academia, which includes education institutions and research centers;
- Civil society, which includes charities, NGOs, associations and other groups and organisations relevant for the creative industries;
- Industry, which includes both organisations in different sizes and freelancers from the creative industries and the wider economy.
- Monetary flows, which integrate a different kind of (or attraction of) direct and project-based funding;
- Collaboration/cooperation flows, which includes how creative networks create access to and connections between different actors in the value network;
- Service/knowledge flows, which includes the provision of services and other knowledge to different actors;
- Less tangible cultural value flows, including the creation of values through place-making, socio-cultural impacts and spill-over effects.
3.3. Value Network Actors
3.3.1. The Government and Creative Networks
Case study 1—Creative Edinburgh partners with Creative Informatics: Alongside the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University and CodeBase, Creative Edinburgh are partners in Creative Informatics (https://creativeinformatics.org, accessed on 20 September 2021). Through five key funding programs and regular events, Creative Informatics enables creative individuals and organisations to explore how data-driven technologies can enhance their work. It is funded by the Creative Industries Clusters Programme managed by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of the Industrial Strategy, with additional support from the Scottish Funding Council (https://www.creative-edinburgh.com, accessed on 20 September 2021).
3.3.2. Academia and Creative Networks
Case study 2—Creative Cardiff (https://creativecardiff.org.uk, accessed on 20 September 2021) building the Creative Economy Unit at Cardiff University: Creative Cardiff as part of Cardiff University has contributed to the development of the Creative Economy Unit (CEU) at the university. The initial remit of the CEU was to develop research-led engagement. It began by creating networks of researchers within the University and researching existing city/regional creative networks (in places such as Bristol, Brighton, Edinburgh), building upon best practices in the UK and mapping the creative economy in Cardiff (https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/creative-economy, accessed on 20 September 2021).
3.3.3. Civil Society and Creative Networks
3.3.4. Industry and Creative Networks
Caste study 3—Creative Dundee’s Amps programme (https://creativedundee.com/amps-network/, accessed on 20 September 2021). The community members of Amps meet regularly, online and offline, to share news and ideas, discuss current issues and collectively build the future of the city. The Amps network offers an opportunity to join events designed to build connections, showcase local projects and develop collaborations throughout Dundee and beyond. Network members are eligible for the Community Ideas Fund, funded through membership fees (50% of subscriptions go towards the fund, the other 50% goes towards commissioning creative work).
3.4. Value Networks’ Value Flows
3.4.1. Monetary Value Flows
Case study 4—Bristol Creative Industries membership: Bristol Creative Industries (https://bristolcreativeindustries.com, accessed on 20 September 2021) offers tiered membership based at different rates. At £45/year, they offer the Individual and Start Up rate for freelancers, small businesses and start-ups turning over less than £150k. For established and growing businesses and agencies they offer a business rate of £120/year. Student membership is free. Benefits include the ability to showcase businesses through the member directory, to participate in industry events, post jobs for free and to self-publish news and discounts at local retailers (https://bristolcreativeindustries.com/join/#Individual-startup-membership, accessed on 20 September 2021).
3.4.2. Collaboration and Cooperation Value Flows
Case study 5—Creative Kernow’s Cultivate scheme (https://www.creativekernow.org.uk/cultivator/, accessed on 20 September 2021): Creative Kernow’s Cultivate scheme is a creative business support scheme. It includes a range of support measures for creative businesses with and through partners including one-on-one business advice, creative investment grants, internship incentives, specialist mentoring, skills development grants and a creative export program. They have a team of advisors who have an in-depth understanding of different segments of the creative industries as well as the knowledge and experience to support and cooperate with creative businesses (https://cultivatorcornwall.org.uk/, accessed on 20 September 2021).
3.4.3. Service and Knowledge Value Flows
Case study 6—Wired Sussex talent manifesto (https://www.wiredsussex.com/blogpost/1284027/skills-and-talent-manifesto-whats-happened-so-far, accessed on 20 September 2021): The Wired Sussex talent manifesto is a collective commitment that supports the network’s goal of making the region the best place in the UK for anyone to build a digital career. This manifesto offers a collective commitment that businesses can sign up to, to support the aspiration to make Greater Brighton the best place in the UK to work in the digital sector resulting in a Pledge and a Diversity and Inclusion toolkit that members get access to (https://www.wiredsussex.com/initiative/1310656/skills-talent-and-diversity, accessed on 20 September 2021).
3.4.4. Other Intangible Value Flows
Case study 7—Portsmouth Creates’ ‘We Believe’ arts trail (https://www.portsmouthcreates.co.uk/we-believe/, accessed on 20 September 2021): The ‘We Believe’ arts trail of Portsmouth Creatives was developed in partnership with the Portsmouth City Council. Each artist was micro-commissioned to produce a poster, guided by the theme ‘We Believe—expressions of hope & optimism for our city beyond covid-19.’ The trail was artist-led, and they asked artists to produce a piece representing what the theme meant to them. The trail is a 30-min walk around Portsmouth, which can be enjoyed by the local community.
4. Conclusions and Recommendations
- Creative networks create value by interconnecting quadruple helix actors: The visualization of the value network shows how creative networks are an anchor point bringing together a variety of actors who, together, create various forms of value for a wide range of stakeholders. We found that without the creative network being the connector, there would be considerably less connectivity between actors in the local creative ecosystems, which makes these ecosystems less sustainable.
- Creative networks create value in different ways including economic, social and cultural value impacts: Creative networks’ direct/indirect and tangible/intangible value-generation mechanisms have an impact on the sustainable development of places, which spills over to the wider economy. The nature of the creative industries—based on small companies and freelancers—makes these networks particularly valuable, with the absence of large players making it unlikely that this will be provided by the sector itself.
- Creative networks face obstacles which hinder their growth including a lack of understanding by all stakeholders: To have a real, long-term sustainable impact, creative networks need to reach a critical mass of actors in their networks. However, they also need to be able to demonstrate the value they bring so they are fully appreciated and understood by all stakeholders, an issue intensified by the current economic environment, where a focus on direct financial value makes this more challenging.
- Uniting policy efforts and understanding, ongoing resourcing, support and guidance: As key stakeholders in creative networks, further consideration should be given to clarify the role performed by local leadership and other bodies in facilitating networks.
- Networking the networks: As critical facilitators of the networks, regular meetings for network managers and coordinators will support and enable learning and development. Bringing creative network practitioners together regularly to exchange best practices and learning is vital to knowledge and skills sharing, exchange and collaboration to enhance and develop the overall network ecosystem in the UK .
- Creative network member engagement: It is important to undertake further work to sample network attendees and non-attendees in locations across the UK to better understand the benefits of being involved, and any barriers to engagement to provide additional information to our understanding of value creation for participants, members and users.
- Supporting research and understanding: Information gathering needs to inform communication strategies to demonstrate the value of networks both to potential members and funders, and to address specific barriers for sustainability. The value generation of creative networks and how this contributes to territorial sustainability—especially in less tangible areas—is still not fully understood but is key for sustainability.
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Name of Creative Network||Location||Network Scope||Network Size (Number of Organisations/Freelancers Involved)||Year Founded||Interview Attendance||Survey Respondent|
|Bristol Creatives||Bristol||Visual & applied artists||900–1000||2006||✓||✓|
|Bristol Creative Industries||Bristol||Creative industries||500–600||2005||✓||✓|
|Creative Bath||Bath||Creative industries||600–700||2008||-||✓|
|Creative Cardiff||Cardiff||Creative industries||3000–4000||2015||✓||✓|
|Creative Carmarthenshire||Carmarthenshire||Film/video, radio/television & music||50–100||2018||✓||✓|
|Creative Clyde||Glasgow, Scotland||n.a.||n.a.||n.a.||-||-|
|Creative Dundee||Dundee||Creative industries||200–300||2013||✓||✓|
|Creative Edinburgh||Edinburgh, Scotland||Creative industries||4000–5000||2001||✓||✓|
|Creative Kernow||Redruth||Creative industries||2000–3000||1995||✓||✓|
|Creative Lancashire||Lancashire||Creative industries||2000–3000||2004||-||✓|
|Creative Leicestershire||Leicestershire||Creative industries||n.a.||n.a.||✓||-|
|Creative Manchester||Manchester||Creative industries||100–200||2018||✓||✓|
|Creative North Wales||Caernarfon (West Wales)||Digital creative||100–200||2012||✓||✓|
|Creative Quarter Nottingham||Nottingham||Creative industries||200–300||2012||✓||✓|
|Creative Stirling||Stirling||Creative industries||n.a.||n.a.||-||-|
|Culture Central||West Midlands/Coventry||Arts & culture||n.a.||n.a.||✓||-|
|Culture Northern Ireland||Derry/Londonderry||n.a.||n.a.||n.a.||-||-|
|Sheffield Creative Guild||Sheffield||Creative industries||700–800||2016||✓||✓|
|Wired Sussex||Brighton||Media & createch||1500–2000||2007||✓||✓|
|Total identified: 22 creative networks||Number of cities: 21||Total members: >18,000||15||15|
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