Manchester Focus: Is there still a good sense of community among the creative sector in the city?

Manchester is already regarded as one of the creative hot spots of the UK. But this reputation is growing – fast. And with the MediaCityUK development in Salford now almost fully operational, the creative kudos of the area is only set to grow. So, to find out more about what’s really going on in the city, The Drum put a series of pertinent questions to 20 different agencies that operate at the coal-face of Manchester’s creative industry.In a series of feature pages, we look at the agencies' responses, to explore the varying industry perceptions of the city.

Manchester is already regarded as one of the creative hot spots of the UK. But this reputation is growing – fast. And with the MediaCityUK development in Salford now almost fully operational, the creative kudos of the area is only set to grow. So, to find out more about what’s really going on in the city, The Drum put a series of pertinent questions to 20 different agencies that operate at the coal-face of Manchester’s creative industry.In a series of feature pages, we look at the agencies' responses, to explore the varying industry perceptions of the city.

Gareth Wright, Director, The Little Black Book AgencyVery much so – and there is still a great sense of pride (remember Resign London?). The creative community in Manchester is far stronger than that in other UK cities, largely due to the density of creative business and talent that we have in a relatively small space. We have a lot of networks and meet-ups, which help maintain a real sense of camaraderie.Simon Landi, MD, Access AdvertisingStill? Was there ever a good sense of community? I guess 15/20 years ago maybe – but not since then. There’s a number of ‘clubs’ within Manchester that you’re either ‘in’ or ‘out’ – but I don’t think there’s any kind of cohesive, inclusive creative community within Manchester. There are pockets and there are those that are trying, but there’s also a great deal of snobbery within the industry that needs to be resolved before the community can really thrive. Paul Casey, Internet Marketing Manager, 11 Out Of 10There is a good sense of community and belonging amongst businesses in general in the Manchester and Salford areas. Many agencies in the same sector are very complimentary about awards, new developments and creative work with clients. There are many very good creative agencies within the area and I think we all appreciate an effective creative campaign. Nick Rhind, Managing Director, CTI DigitalThe communities have got stronger. They typically have been growing continually as more and more digital folk join the region. Now there are lots of niche groups popping up all over the place to get specialist discussions going. There’s got to be over 75+ groups going now covering the whole industry and all variables and types of visitors. As part of my role on Manchester Digital board I’m there to help push more community based events and talks, and this year it’s got some great objectives to help build on the enthusiasm that’s now happening in the industry. Reuben Webb, Creative Director, IAS B2BThe creative scene is good, and with so much to show off in digital there are good reasons to get together. But that generosity of spirit needs to continue beyond the social and into the professional. Share the love with your competitors, with your account people and build a true community. Christian James, Managing Director, The If Agency The MPA and bodies such as Northern Soho are all about developing the community and championing collaboration. I think we have the healthiest creative community in the UK….and it’s getting better. Wayne Silver, Director of New Business, One Marketing CommunicationsI attend many industry events and gatherings across the city and there is always a positive camaraderie amongst creative. After all, many will have worked for or with each other in different guises and with different business cards over the years. Even amongst the account management teams there is a feeling that, by sharing best practice (not trade secrets), there is an opportunity for us to collectively build the status and esteem of the industry as a whole which will be positive for everyone. Garry Byrne, MD, Reading Room ManchesterI would definitely say so - as the market has picked up, so has the level of rivalry...but I think it's all in good spirit and generally the creative community in the city are still focusing on pushing Manchester forward as a whole, rather than single-minded gains. Phil Marshall, Owner, Shoot The MoonI think there always has been, it’s such a tight knit industry. There is also a strong opportunity for referred work between agencies and related businesses, so commercially it makes sense. Fergus McCallum, CEO, TBWA\ManchesterThe community is probably in the process of redefinition. Whereas once it was seen as perhaps a communications community, it now encompasses a broader range of creative people and industries - film makers, artists, screenwriters, actors, sculptors and the like. If this community is nurtured we could rightfully become a hotbed for opportunity and talent, but we need to really believe in ourselves and manage our external reputation more effectively. Steve Peters, Code ComputerloveVery much so. We find ourselves collaborating increasingly with specialists in the city. Brands that include the BBC and Channel 4 are actually encouraging agencies to pool their creative excellence and collaborate so that innovation and creativity isn’t compromised.

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