Last month, Platform hosted a visit to Stoke-on-Trent by a delegation of creative industries advisers, policy specialists and academics brought together by the Creative Industries Council sub-group on Regions and Clusters.
Here, Platform’s Chair Peter Rudge shares his thoughts on the event.
Revitalising smaller cities
This event was apart of a Creative Industries Council initiative about Revitalising Smaller Cities and I was part of a launch in Coventry last year as part of the City of Culture announcement. The project is about how these smaller cities can leverage sector strengths alongside a recognition of ‘place’ to drive creative business innovation and address the widening gap in prosperity, investment and policy thinking between towns and small cities and larger urban centres.
The idea is to use these visits to inform national policy on innovation, creative industries and uneven development.
I was keen to make sure the focus for the day was very much on the digital creative industries, Platform and our outstanding member businesses, to ensure we showed that there was more to Stoke-on-Trent than ceramics. Indeed, it was vital to make the point that confluence of technology and creative industries that characterises the screen industries is really where growth can come from in these regions. The interface between the creative industries and the fourth industrial revolution is how that uneven development can most successfully be addressed.
Lessons to be learnt
I was in Pittsburgh last year, speaking at the Create Festival – a mash up of digital and creative thought leaders organised by the Pittsburgh Technology Council. It’s a driver of where Pittsburgh is heading and indicative of how they refocused their thinking as a city. The parallels with Stoke were noticeable. Pittsburgh was a steel town, a powerhouse of American industry until the inevitable collapse of traditional industry and all the economic and social problems that go with it. Although, the city had the foresight and leadership to not hang on to the past but double-down on its future – as a creative, digital and entrepreneurial city. It’s now thriving.
There’s a lesson there for what we are trying to do in Stoke and the importance to that journey of bringing together such an important and influential group to the city cannot be overstated. Platform has highlighted the talents we have in the city, in a sector that is driving not just the UK economy but rapidly becoming a global force for inclusive growth.
We have a long way to go however. Although the visit showed the real strengths we have in the sector, in the close link with higher education in the city and in the desire to make this a success. There is a lot of work to do in putting the digital creative industries front and centre in the city region. Greater collaboration, more joined up thinking across the major stakeholders and real commitment to seeing creative transformation through are all areas that need work. The city has a proud heritage of creativity, disruption and innovation – lets not stop now.
Stay tuned and follow Platform on Twitter and Facebook for interviews with the industry experts that attended the event.
To support the growing film and television industry in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, Platform, the moving image cluster, hosted a creators’ showcase at the House of Commons on Tuesday May 8, 2018. Local MPs, filmmakers and Oscar winners explained how creators in film, tv, animation and more can benefit from working in Staffordshire.
A bright future for Stoke
Stoke-on-Trent is establishing itself as a vibrant city with many opportunities for creators to build a successful business. Platform was formed to build a foundation for students and creators in the region, changing the reputation of the area from a run-down city to a thriving, creative area. Platform is also supporting growth of the industry by backing the bid to build one of the new Channel 4 creative hubs in Stoke-on-Trent as it moves its headquarters out of London.
“Platform was created to be an advocate for the thriving digital creative talent in this region,” explained Peter Rudge, associate professor at Staffordshire University and Platform Chair. “Platform’s aim is to drive the growth of the moving image economy in the region, to encourage collaboration and innovation and to develop Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire as a destination for production, investment and real creative talent.”
Cooperation is key
Stafford MP, Jeremy Lefroy and Damian Collins, MP and chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee hosted the event to showcase Staffordshire’s creative industry and prove to creators that Stoke-on-Trent offers the support of cluster groups, from start-ups to established companies.
“Cluster working is so important to the creative economy, particularly in film,” explained Collins. “It helps to create a network of young people working together — the foundation of a vibrant film sector. How the industries in Stoke-on-Trent collaborate is a perfect example for how a decentralised Channel 4 could operate.”
Local talent showcased
Event attendees also heard from successful filmmakers in Staffordshire, including Stephen Saunders. His recent documentary, The War Above the Trenches, starred Staffordshire University students and was filmed in many locations across the county. Saunders relocated his business from London as it meant he had better access to large, outdoor locations and talent without going over budget.
Attendees also had the opportunity to see the Oscar winning short film, The Silent Child, directed by Chris Overton and written by and starring Rachel Shenton. At the event, Shenton and Overton expressed that Staffordshire was instrumental in creating the film by offering perfect locations and a talented creative team.
Members of Stoke-on-Trent City Council also attended to show the Council’s support of Platform. “Our city’s profile and aspirations are rightly rising,” explains deputy leader councillor Abi Brown. “We are a confident, forward-looking city that is building on its success of being shortlisted for the UK City of Culture 2021, a city that Heathrow airport is considering for one of its national logistics hubs, and a city that has secured HS2 services that will further transform our infrastructure.
“Stoke is on the up, and our bid for a Channel 4 creative hub shows our strength and ambition.”
Welcome to the Production House – The Production House is a hub for creativity and collaboration in Stoke-on-Trent. A place to inspire and be inspired. To be seen and be heard. To build and create. The Production House offers uniquely designed spaces for meetings, events, workshops and screenings.
Stoke Studios is a purpose built facility for TV, Film, & Video production or photography. Based in the heart of the Midlands, and just 40 minutes from Birmingham and Manchester. The studios include:
Green Screen Infinity Curve
Acoustically Treated Stage Air Cooling
Three Phase Power Studio Lighting
Production Office Space Rehearsal Rooms
Make-up, Costume, Kitchen & Shower Facilities
& Green Rooms.
The Production House offers distinctive and welcoming offices to-let in a creative and inspiring environment. As well as kitchen and shower facilities, tenants can enjoy access to all the facilities on offer at The Production House.
For all bookings and enquiries call 01782 454106
More information download the brochures below:
Production house leaflet
Stoke Studios Brochure
Or visit www.reelsinmotion.co.uk/studio to find out more.