Commissioned by the Nesta-led Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre in 2020, AEA's research explored the relationships between cultural organisations and local creative industries in the context of UK-based cultural districts. Focusing on Culture Mile in London as the key case study of a cultural district, AEA compared emerging findings to five other UK cultural clusters: Better Bankside (London), Salford Quays, Newcastle/Gateshead Quays, Bristol Harbourside, and Dundee Waterfront.
Looking at the relationships between the cultural and creative industries in six urban clusters, AEA found that, while each district has unique characteristics, commonalities can be observed. These are seen particularly in supply chain interactions between anchor organisations and creative firms and freelancers; knowledge exchange, skills development and networking; and area branding and placemaking. In consultation, AEA also identified demand for measures and initiatives from professionals in both sectors, which include the need for communication mechanisms and networks of constituents in cultural districts; the provision of affordable rental space for artists and freelancers; collaboration from anchor organisation's in programming and acting as 'test beds' for new creative ideas; and collaborative placemaking and localised cultural programming projects in the public realm.
Based on these conclusions, the report provides recommendations that can be addressed by local and national policymakers and those supporting cultural districts to contribute positively to the collaboration and growth of co-located cultural sector organisations and creative firms and freelancers.
To discuss these recommendations, in March 2021 the Global Cultural Districts Network hosted an online conversation between some of the study participants and stakeholders from the sector in the UK and internationally.