Anna, founder of Power House Hub, went to Liverpool in May 2017, to meet Baltic Creative, through the European Creative Hubs Network and our Peer-to-Peer Scheme (P2P). This is her article about the experience of exchanging knowledge, creative hub to creative hub.
This last week at Baltic Creative, exchange made possible by P2P program of the EU Hubs Network, we have been working with real data: numbers about the business and their projection for a near future. All seems good news.
Around 160 businesses form part of Baltic Creative today. Among these 160, we can find freelancers and medium sized companies from a variety range in the Digital and Creative Industries (Crafts, Design, Digital and Technological, Video and Film, Music, Publishing, Advertising…). Nationally the Creative and Digital sector is having positive effect in the UK, Liverpool is not unaware of it, living its renaissance with this bloom. A whole ecosystem is needed for the transformation: universities, accelerators, workspaces, networks…. Baltic Creative among others have the credit.
Today Baltic Creative has 350 persons working full time and part time in its spaces plus an uncertain number of freelancers project work basis. But the best part of it, it is the projection that the business managers make for next year; their expectations for the year to come are to grow 16%, not bad at all. Besides, it is not only employment, turnover for business established around Baltic Creative means 16.991K pounds this year, contribution to the whole Liverpool’s economy, and the expectations for next year are around 22.550K pounds, a 32% more. Anyway, if next year, it is demonstrated that their calculations are or are not accurate, it is not the main issue. The most remarkable point about it, it is the ambition and the optimism that the Baltic entrepreneurs show off. Little by little, companies are starting to grow and the predictions are that companies will grow in number of employees, moving from freelancing to SMEs.
More than half of the companies state that they are trading abroad. This is an important fact; companies have the skills and competences to work in a high competent global market. Maybe, that is the chance for Baltic Creative to give companies the support they need for keeping this reality much further. Another, important data is how they relate with other industries, creative and digital sectors are cross sectorial and offer services to other industries, in Baltics are mainly Leisure and Tourism, Education and Retailing, but also Health Care and Construction.
Strength collaboration among companies is another of the main issues in a Hub. 75% of companies at Baltic say they collaborate with each other: sharing of sources, being suppliers/consumers, introducing to new clients, sharing equipment, joint venture…. This proves the results of collaborative economy.
All this data just reflects some positive effects and impacts that a hub can have in a concrete local industry:
- Consolidation of a sector
- Business growth
- Talent development
- Talent retention
- Informal education and engagement
- City, region and international networks for exchange and development
No formulas are written but after a second week at Baltic Creative, we came up with some clues about how to build a community around a Hub How to develop a community? That’s a difficult question to answer, there is not a formula that works for everybody, but it is one of the key issues about creating and running a hub in the cultural and creative industries. During this last week, we have been talking with very different people related to Baltic Creative, Baltic Triangle and culture and business in Liverpool. Great conversations, we must say.
We talked with Kevin McManus from the Bristish Music Experience about the feelings that arise when starting a project like that; with Lynne Robertson from the Incubator that Santander Bank runs in Liverpool about the need to develop companies around the creative sector; with Laura Anderson from the Women Organization on empowering business run by women, Fiona Shaw and Andrew Beatie from Wordscapes about the Baltic Manifesto and the sense of community in the Baltic Triangle; with Erika Rushton from Beautiful Ideas about the paper of creativity and creative communities in urban regeneration; and Liam Kelly from the maker’s space Make Liverpool about artists and creative professionals as early adopters in moving to new city areas, how to face and overcome change and the need to participate in the conversation with the public sector and companies involved in the regeneration of your area (don’t be afraid of change and don’t be too attached to feelings).
Many good ideas have aroused during these days. We first would like to recommend you have a look to the Baltic Triangle Manifesto. It was written in 2012 thanks to the contribution of the main stakeholders of the area. It is spontaneous, fresh, inspiring and empowering. Fiona Shaw and Andrew Beatie are leading a new Manifesto. It will be interesting to see how the new one moves from the aspirational first edition to a mature second one. But in some way it is the written reflection of what the Digital and Creative community of the area feels about it. After 5 years many things have changed, business have grown, the urban development of the area is being fast and the outsider’s interest in the area has grown (life night, residential, cultural a…).
There are many edges in how to build, grow and nurture a community. We are not trying to be exhaustive but here some notes about what we have seen during these days:
- Work in an ongoing transformation: make people be part of it
- Listen, converse and collaborate: don’t be selfish and share
- Build environments, networks and places where things can happen: it is a bar, a green space, a coworking zone…
- Be authentic, let people be: people likes authenticity
- Take decisions or be where the decisions are taken
- Share the results and make people be part of them: what happens in the Baltic area is not because one person or one business, it is thanks to a shared effort
- But above all community is about community self-confidence: share a vision and commit
Anna Aguiló Power House Hub