A Guide to Bristol’s Thriving Creative Industries

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Bristol is a socially diverse, culturally rich and economically vibrant part of the UK. It routinely features at the top of best places to live and work lists, including the coveted number one place on Rough Guides’ 2017 list of Britain’s coolest cities. Being based in the city, we certainly agree with this assessment.

In addition to drawing large numbers of people to the city, Bristol’s many benefits also inspire and encourage solopreneurs and start-ups to make the city their home. As such, the business sector in Bristol is thriving. Businesses in the food and drink, financial, professional services and technology and manufacturing industries are all flourishing. Perhaps more than any other sector though, the city is undoubtedly one of the most attractive places for up and coming creative businesses and freelancers to succeed and prosper.

Creative Industries are Thriving Outside of the Capital

Where once it was a given that creative businesses, startups and entrepreneurs would flock to London, Bristol has been breaking the mould; its strengths attracting more and more of the top creative talent, particularly those who yearn for a closer-knit creative community.

The quality of life that Bristol can offer has, for example, attracted a huge range of talent from artisans and artists to digital directors from Google and innovation and strategy directors from Sky, Apple, Microsoft and Coca-Cola. Creative companies, including the BBC, the iconic Aardman animation studios and a range of other media, branding and digital organisations, currently make up more than 10% of the local economy. This equates to a workforce of around 16,000 people and plays a significant role in the success of the region.

With everything from specialist independent teams to innovative start-ups and an impressively diverse and talented freelancer base, Bristol boasts a thriving network of talent and is a hotbed for collaboration between businesses, professions and industries.

The Bristol and Bath Creative Industries Cluster

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has made a multi-million-pound investment to support, connect and boost the region’s creative strengths. This investment will unlock the full potential of creative industries in the Bristol and Bath cluster, ultimately helping businesses to scale successfully, enhance their networks, and compete effectively on the global stage.

The unique combination of research from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), the University of Bristol, Bath Spa and the University of Bath is providing the region with the opportunity to leverage its industrial and academic strengths at an unprecedented scale. This is further bolstered by comprehensive knowledge from the cluster’s wide range of creative companies in the performance, marketing, broadcast, design and publishing sectors. This will ultimately result in both innovative productions and the emergence of exciting new research, which will secure Bristol and Bath’s position at the forefront of the UK’s creative sector long into the future.

Investment in the creative sector has already proven to be successful. A four-year programme to boost academic collaboration by connecting creative businesses with researchers in the arts and humanities was awarded AHRC funding and has generated economic activity worth more than £7.5m.

The AHRC funds world-class researchers seeking to make a difference in their fields. The Industrial Strategy is aiming to enhance the earning power and productivity of people across the UK and it is clear that the Bristol and Bath cluster will become a key contributor in setting out how investment in infrastructure, skills and industries will help create higher-paying, more secure jobs in every area of the UK.

Capturing Early and Emerging Talent

Bristol is home to two leading universities (Bristol University and the University of the West of England) and has a very high post-graduate retention rate; a testament to the vibrancy of the city, as well as the quality of life and career opportunities it presents to young people. This retention of postgraduate talent provides local businesses with the unique opportunity to engage and nurture young and emerging talent who already possess a variety of skills in areas as diverse as woodwork to digital marketing and graphic design.

The challenges faced by large companies as well as small, in these uncertain economic times, can be overcome or mitigated by tapping into new skills and innovation and Bristol has no shortage of it.

With top creative talent flocking to Bristol from across the globe to base their business in one of the most connected, innovative and outward-looking cities in the UK, Bristol looks better equipped than perhaps any other city in the UK to weather the storms of any economic downturn.

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