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Creative CardiffCreative HubsPolicy and research

Launch of the Networking Creative Hubs project

1 June 2017

Networking Creative Hubs

More people are working in creative hubs than ever before. For freelancers and small businesses, hubs offer a place to work, opportunities, connections and a sense of community. This week saw the launch of our City Region Exchange project, Networking Creative Hubs in the Cardiff Capital Region.

A brief summary of the project is available here, but in a nutshell we are working with a range of hub members to help network creative hubs in the city region. This follows the launch of Creative Cardiff in 2015, our Pop-up Hub at the Wales Millennium Centre in 2016 and the Creative Cardiff Hub Crawl earlier in the year.

We’re really excited by the response we’ve had from hubs and it was great to invite representatives from the hubs to our opening workshop which we held, appropriately, in the Centre for Skills, Enterprise and Volunteering at Cardiff University. During the workshop we discussed key issues such as place-making, sustainability, growth, freelancing, well-being, work opportunities and collaboration.

The hub representatives at the workshop will now take part in a round robin of exchange placements at hubs across the city region.

Those hubs involved in the project so far include Welsh ICE (Caerphilly), Rabble Studio (Cardiff Bay), Tramshed Tech (Cardiff), Sustainable Studio (Cardiff), Hwyl Hub (Merthyr Tydfil), Indycube (UK-wide, but started in Cardiff).

I hope to bring you news of further developments as the project grows. You can follow updates from our Creative Research Twitter feed @CUCreative and by using #networkinghubs.

Find out more about the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal and view resources from Cardiff University’s City Region Exchange.

Creative Economy and Hubs Resources

This section brings together a range of open-access research reports and resources. These primarily cover creative hubs and co-working spaces, but also the wider creative economy, especially in Cardiff and South Wales. Some of them are more up-to-date and relevant than others, and we’d welcome feedback about what else we might include.

  • Hubs are not only defined by the physical space which they occupy, but by the services they provide and their contribution to the wider creative community and environment in which they operate. These defining features are often down to the values, experiences and expertise of the person or people behind the space.’ – Creative Cardiff #47: Creative hubs and co-working spaces (2016)
  • ‘By “hubs” is meant a very specific location, usually a building or group of buildings, that provides affordable workspace, support and exhibition or sales space for creative entrepreneurs and acts as the central point of a wider network – hence the analogy of a hub as the centre of a wheel.’ – British Council: Hubs, Clusters and Regions (2014)
  • ‘Creative hubs succeed when they are driven by values rather than output. These values will vary, but may include: enhanced know-how and skills; generosity and mentoring; inspiration and leadership. Productivity in a creative hub (and so raising the value of hub members’ individual outputs) arises from the relationships between the people working within the hub’s network.’ – REACT Report (2016)
  • Hubs tend to attract people from a range of backgrounds with a focus on developing digital technology, enterprise and social innovation. They facilitate collaboration in physical and digital space.’ – Creative Hubkit: Made by hubs for emerging hubs (2015)
  • Hubs have become nests for freelancers and micro SME’s to gather, connect and collaborate. They are lighthouses for forgotten areas of the city, gathering people in unused spaces and connecting previously invisible communities. Hubs not only form communities, they also develop a structured serendipity that enables people to connect in ways they hadn’t before, inspiring new cross disciplinary collaborations, community engagements and modes of working.’ – Creative Hubs: Understanding the New Economy (2016)
  • ‘Creative clusters and networks are particularly important for a sector largely made up of agile freelancers and small and micro businesses. The clustering of people and businesses allows for the sharing of new ideas, people and skills through proximity or co-location. This, in turn, leads to increased business activity as well as the development of new businesses.’ – Creative Exchanges: The AHRC Knowledge Exchange Hubs for the Creative Economy Report (2017)
  • ‘Networks are the glue that bind this innovation system together – ensuring that information about new opportunities, available resources and good practice are rapidly disseminated, helping different agents – entrepreneurs, businesses, investors, policymakers, regulators and educators – to coordinate their activities, and giving voice to smaller players and fragmented industries which, by their nature, are further away from the centres of power and decision–making.’ – A Manifesto for the Creative Economy (2013)
  • ‘Post-industrial knowledge economies are increasingly reliant and will over time further rely even more on the creative work undertaken in their economies to achieve competitive advantage against providers of goods and services with other advantages, such as lower labour costs. This landscape also includes the cultural sector, where demand is increasing, driven partly by extensions to leisure time and life expectancy.’ – The Creative Economy in Europe:Why Human Beings Remain the Economy’s Key Asset (2017)
  • ‘Evidence from various sources thereby confirms intuitive impressions of Cardiff as a creative city with a significant cultural sector that is not only part of the fabric of urban life, but a cornerstone of its economy.’ – Mapping Cardiff’s Creative Economy Report (2016)
  • ‘Close collaboration between the publicly funded arts and creative business development is essential. The existing strength of the FE and HE creative sectors is an asset for the Valleys, but one which needs further refinement and co-ordination to connect it to strategic employment and business opportunities. Improvement is needed in the dialogue between creative businesses, FE and HE and government.’ – Creative Industries in the South Wales Valleys (2011)


  1. Ben Smith

    I totally agree Creative Hubs provide a unique collaboration of individual ‘pods’ of creative talent – from unique freelancers to small diverse startups. Projects can become even more successful and unique from the talent pool which can be hard to find without the help of ‘hubs’.

    An interesting article

    Section: Universities and research organisations are often an important part of a cluster, may be of interest.

  2. Johann Gregory

    Thanks for this Ben – very helpful. Will add that post to the list. We were lucky to have John Newbigin speak at an event we recently organised. Here is his talk:

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