Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) today committed to an ambitious long-term project that will make the Thames Estuary the world’s largest creative corridor; a world leader for the creative and cultural industries.
The award of £4.3m funding into a £6.7m programme to the University of Kent, on behalf of the Thames Estuary Production Corridor Partnership, confirms government commitment to the long-term economic prosperity of the Estuary.
Unique in its scale of ambition, the Thames Estuary Production Corridor will unlock long term, transformational, culture-led growth across North Kent and South Essex and establish the region as a creative hub connected to London, the UK, Europe and other global markets.
It is estimated that longer term investment in Estuary’s creative industries could deliver 50,000 new jobs, adding an extra £3.1bn to the UK economy.
This Cultural Development Fund award will kick start a visionary three year #CreativeEstuary programme, creating over 500 new creative industry jobs, skills training for over 200 local people, 60 apprenticeships and countless opportunities for people to engage with world class artists from here in the UK and across the globe.
“This is fantastic news. The University of Kent welcomes the investment from the Cultural Development Fund as it supports our commitment to collaborating with partners to drive innovation and economic growth in the region and above all to develop this part of the UK as one of the most attractive places to live, work and study,” said Professor Karen Cox, Vice-Chancellor, University of Kent.
The creative sector – meaning everything from music, theatre and the visual arts to gaming and film – is the UK’s fastest growing sector, generating £100bn+ each year for the UK economy, and sustaining over 3m jobs.
The Estuary’s 16,000 creative businesses currently employ 46,000 people. Since 2014, the Thames Estuary’s freelance creative economy has grown by 20%.
‘This award is a vote of confidence and a testament to the long-term partnership within the South East, acknowledging the potential for the further growth of the creative industries.’ Sarah Dance, Co-Chair, South East Creative Economy Network.
Christian Brodie, Chair of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), said: “Creative industries employ more than 30,000 people and generate £25bn worth of GVA across our area, making them a vitally important contributor to our economy.
“The Thames Estuary corridor is unique in its position, offering access to London markets and with land available for development. This is being recognised and capitalised on by our creative industries.
“This announcement of Government support for the #CreativeEstuary programme is testament to the collaborative working and tireless efforts of a number of bodies to promote the creative industries on both sides of the Thames Estuary.”
This unique cross-boundary partnership was established by the South East Creative Economy Network (SECEN), a working group of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) and the GLA, supported by Kent County Council and Thurrock Council, who together launched with the TEPC vision in 2017.
The TEPC partnership is a consortium involving the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), Kent and Essex County Councils, 11 local authority areas represented by Thames Gateway Kent Partnership and Opportunity South Essex, South East Creative Economy Network (SECEN), the GLA, Royal Docks and 7 East London boroughs, University of Kent, University of Essex, and cultural organisations Metal and Whitstable Biennale.
Between 2019-22, #CreativeEstuary activity will include:
- Estuary 2020: expansion of this month-long international arts festival to include new commissions in locations and communities across the Thames Estuary
- Corridor Commissions: focused on digital innovation, bringing together internationally renowned and creative technologists to ‘waymark’ visitors along the Thames
- Re:Generation 2030: Creative Apprenticeship scheme, creating job opportunities for 60 young people from the Estuary’s disadvantaged areas to work
- Estuary Works: New creative workspaces for creative and digital businesses in creative clusters like Margate, Southend and Chatham Dockyard
- Estuary Producers: Producer ‘residencies’ in locations across the Estuary, creating new cultural experiences in high streets and parks, on watersides and other venues
- Creative Labs: bringing together creatives, technologists and academics to explore how culture can address key issues such as mental health, ageing and town planning