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Creative Enterprise Zones Conference

Moving the Mayor’s new creative industries initiative from paper to reality

On 15 May over 130 culture, regeneration, and economic development professionals across London’s boroughs, along with artists and collaborators working on plans for Creative Enterprise Zones (CEZ), gathered at Goldsmiths, University of London. This was a day-long conference and the inaugural event of the CEZ Exchange Forum, which moved the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan’s landmark new initiative from paper to reality.

Creative Enterprise Zones seek to address the challenges that local areas throughout London face in both attracting and retaining local creative talent, as well as finding creative workspace in the midst of a host of external impacts. Threats include the impacts of gentrification on local areas, rising rents due to competing residential and commercial demands, and rising unaffordability throughout the capital.

Over the course of the day, prospective CEZs discussed opportunities to address six key areas identified by the GLA: new creative clusters and networks; creative production; business support; enterprise and skills; and community links and socially inclusive places.

Insights captured during the conference will inform a robust outcomes framework being developed for the CEZ programme with the support of BOP. This will help CEZs to plan for and measure the successes of their activities in:

  • retaining and expanding appropriate and affordable creative workspace
  • strengthening cross-sector partnerships
  • embedding creative enterprise in local policy
  • and improving pathways for local residents into the creative industries.

The CEZ programme has the potential to provide a model for local areas in cities around the world to better support their local creative industries and help protect them, so that they can do what they do best - build, facilitate and create meaningful works and experiences.

As one participant at the conference from Hackney Wick Fish Island commented during the day on the ambitions of the CEZ programme: “We’re trying to form a test bed where policy can be changed at local level and can then be rolled out nationwide”.