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Creative clusters and sparse spaces: Manchester’s creative industries and the geographies of deprivation and prosperity

Millennium Bridge

The aim of this paper is to ‘take stock’ of the creative industries in Manchester and to explore their geographies through analysing official statistics on employment and workplaces; in terms of location, size, growth, productivity and turnover.

The aggregated creative industries (CIs) presence in Manchester is substantially larger than those in ‘rival’ cities in the midlands and north of England. But Manchester’s creative industries are also only a fraction of those in London, and the CIs in Manchester account for less than half the share of all workplaces and employment that they do in London.

The report authors argue that Narrowing the gap is not impossible, but it is important that policy makers recognise that growing the CIs outside of London and the South East is a major, long-term challenge, and that relatively small, short-term initiatives will prove inadequate.

The CIs in the Manchester city-region are largely concentrated in the city centre, Salford Quays and a few other small areas, which are predominantly among the most affluent in the city-region. There are large areas with very little to no creative industries employment especially in the north side of the city region.

In many ways Manchester reproduces at the city-region level the inequalities that exist across the UK as a whole. The central policy challenge is to enhance opportunities in the poor and deprived areas of Manchester.

How to level up the Manchester city-region and beyond the scope of this paper however the author suggests it is likely to require both increasing access to existing ‘hot spots’ of opportunity (such as the city centre and Salford Quays), but also bringing opportunities to people.

The author suggests the challenge of levelling up opportunities within regions is probably at least as great as the challenge of levelling up across regions.


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