Mayor plans Creative Enterprise Zones

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has launched plans to establish Creative Enterprise Zones across the capital to help creative talent thrive.

The Mayor believes the role of creative communities in revitalising areas has been proven, but says that often they are displaced from the neighbourhoods they have helped regenerate.

Rising rents, increased property prices and the decline of affordable workspace have all contributed to the pressure on creative communities, with London predicted to lose 30 per cent of affordable creative workspace by 2019. Creative Enterprise Zones are a new initiative designed help creatives put down roots and establish themselves in local areas.

The creative industries contribute £42bn to London’s economy every year and account for one in six jobs in the capital. Creative jobs are growing four times faster than the economy average and the majority of jobs will not be automated, providing a major employment opportunity for London, says the Mayor.

Creative Enterprise Zones will aim to retain and attract artists and new creative businesses. The Mayor will work with boroughs to offer incentives such as permanent affordable workspace and relief from business rates. The plan follows a similar model to Enterprise Zones, areas set up to create the best possible conditions for businesses to thrive.

Sadiq is calling on boroughs to bid for one of ten £50,000 grants to develop their own zones as part of this plan.

A Creative Enterprise Zone research project has already been carried out in Tottenham in the London Borough of Haringey. Here, creative industries have flourished and grown by 127 per cent in the past five years, but there remains pressure on affordable creative space in the area.

The research found that a Creative Enterprise Zone would support growth and attract new start-up creative businesses, creating an estimated 300 new jobs each year, and generating growth of £26million. This research has informed the vision and implementation for future Creative Enterprise Zones in London. A number of other London boroughs are already experimenting with similar ideas and these development grants are designed to consolidate and grow emerging or existing clusters of creative activity.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Our creative industries make a huge contribution to London’s reputation as an open, creative and diverse city and this success is largely thanks to our wealth of creative talent.

“We cannot afford to lose our artists and creative businesses – they power our economy and bring people together across communities. Too often artists and small businesses find themselves priced out of the very city they help bring to life. Creative Enterprise Zones are a bold new initiative for London and will help to secure our future as a cultural capital.”

Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, Justine Simons OBE, said: “The creative workforce is our biggest asset in London but it is under more pressure than ever. Pay is low, intellectual property is under threat and it’s hard to break in. London’s creative community is often the advance party, setting up studios in disused warehouses and venues in railway arches – breathing life into unloved neighbourhoods and increasing land values along the way.

“But this model is no longer sustainable – the cheap space is running out and creative communities are pushed out by impossible prices. The real trick is to build balanced neighbourhoods, with creative talent in the mix long-term. Creative Enterprise Zones will do just that – they’ll provide the conditions to help artists and creative businesses put down roots in the areas they have helped regenerate and will position London as a world leader for culture and creativity into the future.”

The Mayor wants to see all corners of the capital benefitting from the vibrancy creative talent brings to a local area, and is urging all London boroughs to bid for a grant to set their ideas in motion. He says boroughs must focus on four key areas to qualify as a Creative Enterprise Zone – secure permanent, affordable, creative workspace, and live-work spaces at well below market rents; building entrepreneurial skills and offering affordable business support to creative businesses; Local Plans with pro-culture policies; and creating socially-inclusive places and strengthening links with marginalised communities and education providers.

Boroughs have until 31 January 2018 at 12pm to bid for a development grant. Successful development grants will be announced in March 2018 and proposals developed across 2018.

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