Thanet on the crest of a creative wave

A new report, Thanet's New Wave, reveals a burgeoning cultural and start-up scene in Thanet.

There has been an 84% growth in creative businesses in the district and Margate has seen a 71% increase in artist studios over the last 4 years. This, combined with the country’s fastest growing tourist economy and rapid growth in employment, shows the extent to which the district has turned the tide and positioned itself firmly on the international map as a destination for talented and ambitious creatives.

Creative industries are key to the UK’s economy, contributing nearly £90bn to the economy in 2015 and providing 2.9m jobs, and this report highlights how they are driving regeneration and transforming the reputation of Thanet. This influential creative cluster, attracted by the area’s collaborative close-knit community, its affordability and its proximity to the capital, reports high levels of business confidence.

The report’s findings include figures from a survey of local creative individuals and businesses which reveal that:

  • 80% of respondents said they felt positive about the future and 79% expect their income to increase in the next five years
  • 60% have moved to Thanet in since the Turner Gallery opened in 2011 with 67% coming from London
  • 75% are members of formal or informal support networks
  • 59% are based in Margate and Cliftonville

A key finding from the report, commissioned by Thanet District Council, is that the creative sector is highly community-minded. 70% of them volunteer and one in three businesses surveyed have brought an empty property back into use. Breathing new life into these vacant sites has had a knock on effect and revitalised areas like Cliftonville and attracted talent and investment from far and wide.

The report also revealed a 160% growth in film and TV businesses as well as a 330% growth in technology organisations in Thanet over the last four years.

The report is the culmination of an innovative Margate Arts, Creativity and Heritage (MACH) programme which was jointly funded by Thanet District Council, Historic England and Arts Council England to boost growth in the creative sector and draw inspiration from the historic built environment.

Councillor Hunter Stummer-Schmertzing, Thanet District Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Enterprise Services said:

“Thanet is a great place to live, work and invest in and it’s right that we should be celebrating the phenomenal growth in the district’s creative and digital sectors. Many of our creative entrepreneurs are doing business across the world, putting Thanet on the map and driving jobs and economic development.”

“With the world’s most prestigious art prize coming to Margate’s Turner Gallery in 2019, Thanet will continue to gather international momentum as a great place to do business.”

“This report clearly demonstrates the district’s capacity for fast growth and I have no doubt that we will continue to build on this success.”

Dr Andy Brown, Planning Director, Historic England, South East said:

It is enormously exciting to see the seeds sown by the MACH partnership between Historic England, Arts Council England and Thanet District Council growing into one of the best regeneration success stories in the country. Thanet has an amazing heritage of buildings, parkland and archaeological sites and I am delighted that local communities are seizing the opportunities to tell the story of Thanet in new and exciting ways, deepening the sense of place at the same time as attracting visitors. I hope other coastal towns are inspired to follow the lead and make heritage a key part of their regeneration.

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said:

“Creativity, culture and the arts provide incredibly powerful opportunities for places to grow and develop; and it is fantastic to see such compelling evidence of this happening in Thanet. But more than that, it is incredible to see how artists and creatives become such an essential part of the community as well – helping to develop Thanet as a great place to live, work and visit. I hope that, with Thanet District Council’s support, creativity will remain at the heart of Thanet’s vibrant and exciting growth.”

In recent years, Thanet’s enviable cultural credentials and spectacular coastline have provided the backdrop for high profile media campaigns and television shows. In the last 18 months, Thanet District Council’s communications team has assisted production companies working for Sky Arts, Vogue, Humans, Emile Sande, The Tunnel, Harper’s Bazaar and Coast versus Country.

In Thanet, the intention is to take the MACH approach district-wide and Ramsgate has recently been announced as one of Historic England’s Heritage Action Zones, benefiting from funding and resources to help breathe life back into its history. 

Download a copy of the report here - Thanet's New Wave.

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