Pre-pandemic, research suggested that being located in intensive, largely urban clusters was beneficial to the growth of creative enterprises, leading to possible assumptions that dispersion and rurality are disadvantages. Policy interventions and funding followed, targeting creative industry businesses in geographical areas where they are at high density.
However, recent evidence suggests that rural and geographically dispersed creative industries have done relatively well during the pandemic. The PEC’s Creative Radar 2021: The Impact of COVID-19 on the UK’s Creative Industries showed that creative businesses located outside the major creative clusters were more likely to have added new employees, having increased their sales to the rest of UK. Building on this data and evidence is crucial to understand and deliver the policy intervention and funding needs of creative industries businesses in rural and coastal regions so they can generate the wider economic and social value that is associated with the creative industries such as high GVA and jobs growth for rural and coastal regions and communities.
This policy briefing draws on new qualitative research from the University of Exeter, funded by the PEC, into whether this recent data evidence rang true for rural and dispersed creative small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) in Devon and Cornwall, showing how future policymaking and investment might build on this in the Peninsula South West and similar rural and coastal regions of the UK.