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Does Newcastle have an image problem?

Janet Hull, director of marketing for the IPA, reports back from the successful launch of Creative Newcastle.

As an outsider looking in, Lewis Blackwell celebrated the existing excellence and diversity in Newcastle and the North East and set a positive case for growth and jobs for the city region moving forward, supported by quality of life and compelling cost advantages.

However, he identified a real shortage of the right talent in the region as a potential brake on growth, and believed there was low awareness, not just in Newcastle but elsewhere, of the city as a powerhouse of supply for smart creative enterprise.

Yet Newcastle and the surrounding area have 1755 creative companies, creating 8000 jobs, contributing £866m annually to the regional economy, and they’ve driven higher levels of growth than other industry sectors since 2013, points out insider looking out, Ben Quigley, CEO of Newcastle-headquartered Everything Different Group and IPA chair of its England and Wales group.

So shouldn’t Newcastle be more famous and more loved?

The issue was debated at the first Creative Newcastle event. Run by Creative England and the IPA, it was the first in a series of Creative City events, with Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol and Bournemouth set to follow as the year goes on.

The panel debated whether Newcastle had an image problem.

According to Julie Drummond, MD, Drummond Central, agencies need to be more connected, and collaborate better with each other and across the creative sector, to create a coherent image of the city and build its profile as a creative hub. Herb Kim, CEO, Thinking Digital, felt Newcastle would benefit from having a figurehead to champion the city.

For Phil Coverdale, MD, Cravens, the work should speak for itself, so finding new ways to celebrate Newcastle’s creative output was high on his agenda. For Creative England, the answer lay in unleashing investment to help creative businesses to accelerate growth.

Rob Earnshaw,founder, Creative North, believes there is a huge opportunity to work more closely with schools and universities, in addition to finding ways to retain top talent.

Overall there was unity on the need for a more joined-up approach to external promotion, real enthusiasm for more industry-wide networking events and debates, and interest in making Creative Newcastle a brand to be reckoned with.

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