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Back in 2012, some of us attended the launch of the AHRCs Creative Hubs in Millbank tower. The video of the event here includes a few shots of me, looking much younger.
The four ‘Knowledge Exchange Hubs for the Creative Economy’ were funded with £16m. The lead institutions; University of Lancaster, University of Dundee; Queen Mary, University of London, and University of the West of England.
In essence, the problem they aimed to solve was “The University sector and the creative economy sector run in parallel universes.” At the time, there was significant pressure on funding councils to show impact, and this was one way of maximising that.
At least three of the Hubs have now published evaluations (we couldn’t find one for Dundee). We worked on the evaluation for Creative Works.
The most interesting findings are around the clash between existing models of engagement and what is needed in the future. React is clearest on this:
“The current creative economy innovation space can sometimes feel like a Wild West: a chaotic and wasteful process, where start-ups come and go and where over-arching national priorities, for example to achieve leadership in digital sub-sectors such as financial services technology (fintech) or branches of artificial intelligence, do not connect with realities on the ground…“cities, city regions and other sites of economic regeneration will need to work with universities to establish new forms of organisation and governance to generate value in the creative economy”.
These new models of organisation are tied into the values and processes of the hub itself:
“A creative hub is an insurgent process, a culture change project that challenges the ‘business as usual’ thinking of all partners”
There are some indications that the outcomes of the projects reflect this. Part of the Creative Exchange project is looking at joining the European Network of Living Labs (ENOLL). The Creative Exchange in being “swift, agile and networked”. Creative Works contains “the seeds of a real structural change in the way in which resource may be best allocated to public interventions that seek to reduce barriers to entry and address market failures in creative industries”. React Hub is most explicit in arguing its role is “developing open systems for the creative economy”.
This is an important – but also challenging – finding. Historically, much of the strength of our education institutions has been in their consistency and their traditions. These findings suggest we may want to rethink some of these.
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By BOP Consulting
Callum leads the BOP team, its portfolio and strategic partnerships. His cultural and creative industries expertise is founded on leading analytical research and policy formulation in the UK and internationally.
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