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Leeds, the UK’s new creative hub

By Steve Sowden | Chief executive partner



The Drum Network article

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November 2, 2018 | 4 min read

So, Channel 4 is setting up shop in Leeds. Locating its new national headquarters in the city, along with 300 staff.

Safe to say we’re over the moon. The result reflects a city-wide effort to back the bid and showcase the undoubted talents of the northern creative powerhouse. It’s testament to our belief that the region is far more than just a satellite. It’s a genuine player and a hotbed of original ideas. Which, after all, are not constrained by geography.

This landmark decision is a major vote of confidence in Yorkshire’s economy. Leeds is the UK’s fastest growing city, with an increasingly strong presence in creative, media and digital. With the latter coming in for particular praise from Channel 4. They highlighted our “thriving digital industry and strong digital talent pool”, as the new national HQ will house a digital creative unit to grow the corporation’s presence across digital and social media. Helping it to nurture new talent and achieve its mission of diversity and inclusion.

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Leeds is to play home to Channel 4's new national HQ.

It was great to see independents across the city getting involved. Nowhere was this more apparent than the campaign by All in. Leeds., a collective of over 90 agencies spanning creative, media, digital and PR that was sparked by the bid. In an unprecedented show of unity, they each sent Channel 4 a love letter highlighting the city’s desire to host the broadcaster. Proving that good things happen when you come together and throw out negative competition.

In fact, not only will this move capitalise on our strong and fast-growing independent production industry, it will allow us to reach out and collaborate with creative talent across the north, from Liverpool to Sheffield and Newcastle. And as well as delivering more skills, more jobs and more investment, we’ll all benefit from far greater representation of ideas, voices and communities.

That’s what I find genuinely exciting about this news. It’s not just a vote of confidence in Leeds. Nor is it about Leeds getting one over on regional rivals or the tired and frankly irrelevant north/south debate. This is about working together to create something truly new and exciting. It’s an opportunity for the north to prove what we’ve been saying for a long time. That we can be the UK’s creative hub. Now the stage is set, it’s a crown I believe we can wear with confidence.

Steve Sowden is chief executive partner of Intermarketing Agency

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