Publishing in Greater Cambridge revisited
In a previous post (14 Aug) I described the creative cluster of publishing business in Greater Cambridge, based in part on academic publishing (especially in science/engineering/technology), publishing services, and electronic publishing. Now NESTA has published the results of research into the geography of creative industries in Britain. They are presented through (less than user-friendly) interactive maps and a report – Creative clusters and innovation – downloadable as a PDF. The relevant URL is: http://www.nesta.org.uk/areas_of_work/creative_industries/geography_of_innovation/
The report identifies, besides London, nine creative hotspots across Britain. They are Bath, Brighton, Bristol,Guildford, Edinburgh, Manchester, Oxford and Wycombe-Slough – and Cambridge. On a regional level, it shows that, outside London, the greatest concentrations of publishing business are to be found in the South-East (no surprise there) and also the South-West and the East (perhaps less widely recognised). The report’s notes on publishing mention ‘strong concentration in Oxford, Bath and Minehead’ and ‘significant specialisation in London, Cambridge, Peterborough, Ludlow and the North of Scotland’.
On a more local level, the interactive map confirms that the concentration of publishing occurs not only in the city of Cambridge but also in some of the districts surrounding the city.
I wouldn’t say the report does a great deal, beyond providing the data. Its attempts to identify policy implications seem to me largely spurious. For example, it talks of identifying ‘latent clusters’ and providing them with ‘support’ through ‘awareness-raising’ and so on. The idea of our leaden-footed public sector agencies moving swiftly as harbingers of enhanced creativity is utterly unconvincing – just think in the east of England of the parasitic EEDA, soaking up taxpayers’ money with endless strategy ‘consultations’ and ‘reviews’ whilst pretending that the dynamic economy to be found in parts of the region was somehow down to them. In general, it’s difficult to see how the report’s so-called policy implications follow from the data themselves.
The report’s correlation analysis indicates that publishing tends to co-locate with four industries, namely scientific R&D, accounting, consultancy, and
market research. This is pertinent to Cambridge and reminds me of questions that I found myself musing on last week, whilst chatting to other kinds of creative (mainly web designers and web developers) at last week’s CamCreatives meeting: to what extent is the development of different kinds of creativity and innovation in Greater Cambridge coincidental and to what extent are there linkages?
To some extent their co-development must simply be a function of the general prosperity in the area, but I also find myself feeling – feeling, rather than thinking – that there’s a little more to it than that: a sense confidence in the creative sector, re-enforced by awareness of each other’s outputs. Something in the air, if you like.
Greater Cambridge, perhaps more than anywhere, makes me feel the old science/arts divide is a bore: creativity here spills over from one to the other.