Opinion: Thanks for not flooding MediaCity with imported talent

Stuart Reeves, MD of Manchester-based video production business Seveer Media, is more interested in the talent that will have to be sourced from the North West rather than news of those who don’t fancy a move to Salford.

Watching the Blue Peter presenters leave London to occupy their new studio at MediaCityUK is encouraging.

Each show or department that relocates here gives the BBC the opportunity to show off the new facilities and offset much of the mainstream media negativity that has haunted the move.

Every time I read another media rant about the expense of MediaCity or fears that it’s set to be a ‘White Elephant’ I bang my head – and then I remember why I should be pleased.

Most creative businesses in the region will have experienced parochial prejudice at some point or another. Not being based in London can still sometimes count against you, wherever you call home.

Of course, there is amazing, cost effective creative work from the North West being delivered to clients based in the capital every day, but the fact that we have penetrated the preconception doesn’t mean it no longer exists.

Most articles about MediaCity and Salford – the ones that disingenuously paint the city as still being stuck in the days of L S Lowry - still refuse to use an up to date picture of the amazing transformation of the Quays.

This isn’t coming from our industry, it appears to be a stance that newsdesks in London have taken, printing articles discussing how preposterous it is to move such an institution ‘up North’ – even though other sectors have been slowly diversifying their geographic locations to cut costs for years.

‘Where will the talent live?’ the media asks, ignoring the proximity of some of the costliest rural real estate in the country just down the road in Cheshire and preferring to suggest that Gabby Logan – had she chosen to move with the BBC – would be forced to bunk up on the Chatsworth estate with the Gallaghers.

The pleasant fact is, 55 per cent of BBC staff involved have opted to move and, while this is impressive for such a big project, that leaves a lot of jobs which will need to be sourced from the abundance of talent we have in the region.

Designers, film-makers, writers, PR people, ad creatives – all can benefit from this. My business has five employees but I’m genuinely excited about the opportunities MediaCity and the knock on effect of the BBC relocation will create.

We’re a collaborative bunch in the North West and, like most, I like collaborating with talented people. New productions being conceived and filmed in the North West is great for businesses like Seveer.

Spin off projects, work filtering down from large ad agencies, fresh concepts to pitch for and new businesses locating here to be close to the decision makers.

You might suggest that with 55 per cent of BBC staff moving up from London, certain projects might still head back to creative contacts in the South East.

That’s why the unknown 45 per cent are important. They’ll be new, hungry and primarily employed from a pool outside of London, many from the North West.

And the generation which follow will be less likely to graduate and move away - MediaCity will be a thriving hub of creativity by then.

I’m happy not everyone wants to move. Be proud to stay in London if that’s where your heart is, it will always be a great place to live and work.

Just don’t knock the regions until you’ve seen what we can do.

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