Glenn Caplin-Grey on why Cornwall’s creativity and carbon-neutral ambitions are a winning combination

August 12, 2021

As the Government continues to ponder the best way to support regions of the UK to bounce back after coronavirus, it would do well to consider recent research which focuses on the value of creative industries in supporting economic growth and year-round jobs.

Evidence from the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre has highlighted a series of micro-clusters of creative businesses across the UK in places that you might not usually expect. Look beyond the urban hotspots of London, Manchester and Edinburgh and you find smaller clusters of creative businesses dotted all over the country.

And Cornwall is a particular hotspot. Penzance is already renowned for having an established creative cluster with some 140 businesses active in the sector. But according to the research, so too does St Ives, Falmouth, Truro, Newquay, St Austell, Redruth, and Launceston, all with 50 or more creative businesses within close proximity of one another.

Cornwall already has global brands such as Tate, Eden and Leach Pottery; a World Heritage site; as well as a Creative Industries University in Falmouth that generates more than £100m GVA pa for the economy; which mean our cultural offer is recognised around the world. Add to this companies such as Wildworks, Krowji, Minack, Newlyn Art Gallery and Golden Tree and it’s clear to see how culture can support ‘Levelling Up’. Construction work has just started on creative hubs in Penzance and Liskeard and the refurbished Hall For Cornwall will open in the autumn, providing a much needed boost.

So developing and expanding our existing cultural and creative industries is one way that we can seek to develop a year-round economy. And it’s a way of breathing new life into our town centres because as the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre points out, culture is a very powerful tool in changing how we feel about where we live and therefore should be at the heart of the Government’s place-based economic agenda.

The benefits of clusters are many, ranging from shared talent and customers, to collaboration and research. The term ‘creative industries’ also covers a broad spectrum of businesses, from makers and crafters to film, fashion, video games and digital design. In fact there are very few other sectors that the creative industries don’t touch in some way, and many of our clusters overlap in various ways with our UK-leading environmental and energy industries. And that’s a huge opportunity.

During the G7 Summit at Carbis Bay in June, businesses and leaders from across Cornwall took the opportunity to present to the world a vision for the future, showcasing our green revolution and the role it can play both domestically and internationally in achieving net zero. And only this week we have seen stark warnings about “a code red for humanity” from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

We were among the first regions in the UK to declare a climate emergency. As one of the sunniest parts of the UK and surrounded by the sea on three sides, we are harnessing the power of the sun and the sea to make our future energy green. To date, renewable energy makes up 40% of our electricity. Now we are taking this further and investing in new technology and innovation to decarbonize further and faster. We have firms that are leading the way in geothermal energy and lithium mining – something that is integral in the development of batteries and other low carbon technologies as well as creating jobs.

It is here, in the merging of our cultural and creative industries with our environmental and sustainability approach that I believe Cornwall has a unique opportunity to write a new chapter for our region and its future. This is why we decided to launch Cornwall’s bid for the UK City of Culture 2025, and expect to discover next month whether we have made the shortlist.

In Cornwall, we have a great opportunity to intertwine our cultural and environmental sectors as a vehicle for economic growth, as well as showing Cornwall as the leading light on building a sustainable world.

Our bid, built on the themes of People, Place, and Planet, is an opportunity to harness the power of our communities to demonstrate how the creative industries can underpin a sustainable and circular economy that delivers real life impact. We will show how important it is to have a positive and sustainable relationship between people and the natural environment, putting our grass roots instinct at its heart.

We want to use the bid as an opportunity to accelerate and protect the success and development of modern Cornwall and tell our story of post-industrial decline, environmental change and climate adaptation, followed by rebirth and renewal. We have an ambitious programme that is in the process of being developed. We hope that you will join us on this journey as we look to create a creative and carbon neutral economy by 2030, that will lead to greater prosperity for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.


Glenn Caplin-Grey is CEO of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.

This article first appeared in the Western Morning News on Wednesday 11 August 2021