Creative Stoke is independent, unfunded, and non profit-making. We welcome offers of....
press coverage or free advertising space
volunteer reviewers & talented event-photographers
free tickets to your event
slots for interviews & media appearances
business sponsorship & partnerships
creative-industries consultancy & mapping commissions
Please make contact, initially through our e-mail form. Thanks!
FAQ / ABOUT THE SITE:
"Who is it aimed at?" Creative Stoke is mainly aimed at local creative makers and producers, and at those who wish to discover them. By "local" we mean a circular area of roughly 10 miles radius around Stoke (see a map). This embraces much of North Staffordshire, a region which sits at a comfortable distance from both Manchester and Birmingham, and which has a population of around 500,000 people.
"Why did you do this?" Because in 2002 it desperately needed to be done; done properly, done long-term, and done by people who care. And no-one else was planning to do it. Recent surveys show that 78% of UK creatives see contact/networking with other creative people as their priority. We hope Creative Stoke is a first step towards meeting this need.
"Who created the site?" David is based in Cliffe Vale in Stoke and is an artist & photo-journalist and a university lecturer at Birmingham City University's BIAD. Simon (photo) is based in Kidsgrove and is a recent first-class graduate, used to run a commercial actors' agency in the city, and now works for a media production company in Manchester. We both wish we could work back in Stoke, but the creative scene here isn't big enough — yet.
"Who funds the site?" Creative Stoke is independent, unfunded, run by volunteers, and is non profit-making.
"What are your initial aims?" The first and very simple aim was to stomp down hard on the growing media myth, common in the national and even local press in 2001/2002, that our area was "a cultural desert". Secondly, we want to give local creatives and patrons an easy way to discover and contact each other. Thirdly, we hope the site might attract the attention of some of the many creatives who seem set to flee London by 2012. We know what the creative class values — affordable authentic old buildings, major art & design universities (and their steady output of talented graduate employees), rugged countryside & active sports, friendly locals, a centuries-deep tradition of creative design, broadband net access, a large potential client base, excellent transport links to other cities. We know we have all that here, and we want to tell people.
"You cover all the areas/towns around Stoke too - so why call it Creative Stoke?" It's about recognition of the name. A small but crucial part of our long-term aim is to entice young creative people from outside the area to look at what is going on here, and thus support recruitment to Staffordshire University. Young people may be vaguely aware of roughly where 'Stoke' is and that it's a city, because of our football team & Robbie Williams — but they almost certainly won't recognise the names 'North Staffordshire', 'Moorlands', or 'The Potteries'.
"What is the site's history?" Creative Stoke began as a very plain web-page of 50 web-links. That page 'went live' at Christmas 2001, but then only covered the visual & media arts. Over the next six months that prototype page was pro-actively grown to 300 web-links, all categorised and annotated. Events and a local courses guide were added in early 2002. By Summer 2002 it had become clear that there was a real need for a credible & up-to-date web-site which spotlighted all the production-led creative activity in the area. It was decided to expand Creative Stoke to cover all production-led Creative Industries activity in & around Stoke. The domain-name creativestoke.org.uk was registered, and the initial design & development work was done for the new expanded site. In October 2002 a talented first-class graduate Millennium Volunteer was brought in to help with the expansion process, aided by free broadband-&-PC time courtesy of Kath & Torben at the Burslem School of Art. In late December 2002 the development and research work was completed and the new site 'went live' to the world. In the months after the launch we had a great response, and were able to add hundreds of new links. In December 2003 we celebrated the site's first birthday, and found the Directory had grown to nearly 1000 links. In 2004/5 Creative Stoke was a partner in delivering an innovative £100k community-arts project in Stoke, Creative Approaches to Local Issues; we were invited to submit a funding bid as part of a Council application to a major Lottery fund; we had a £900 Arts Council grant to attend the Creative Clusters international conference in Brighton, and a further £500 grant to pay for the cost of flyers/posters to help promote Creative Stoke locally in early 2005. Throughout 2005 we continued to develop and refine the site, and added RSS news feeds and a forum in Spring 2006. We try to avoid "link rot" &mdash the site is link-checked by software about twice each year. In 2007 and 2008 all links were re-checked by hand. At 2008 the website continues to update frequently with news, events, jobs and opportunities on the What's New page, and also features occasional photo galleries and interviews.
WHY YOU SHOULD BECOME INVOLVED IN THE CITY:
Stoke-on-Trent is a unique and very affordable place for creatives to live & work, with many opportunities to learn and teach. Like any British city these days, it has its problems. But it also has certain unique advantages....
A COMPACT CITY: Stoke is a medium-sized city of 240,000 people, with strong & long-established distinctive local communities. The wider North Staffordshire area is home to around 470,000 people. Stoke has the youngest age profile of any British city, and the city's population was expected to grow to 253,500 by 2006/7. About 9000 firms are based in the city.
AN ARTISAN CITY: North Staffordshire is the world centre for fine ceramics - a skilled design trade established here since the 12th Century, giving us artistry skills that are ten generations deep. In the 1990s the industrial ceramics sector suffered the decline of many old firms, but in December 2003 The Independentnewspaper judged that... "Stoke-on-Trent continues to thrive as a centre of creativity", and that many smaller designer-maker & heritage potteries are thriving. The Stoke area is home to thousands of degree-level studentslearning the creative & media arts at three major universities; Keele, Staffordshire, and MMU at Alsager. The city is also home to the largest F.E. college in England, which has a specialist media-production campus at Burslem.
SPORTS, CYCLING & WALKING: Stoke is a very sports-focussed city, with two league football teams in huge new stadiums. Three national long-distance SUSTRANScycle-routes converge on Stoke, and there are 100-miles of off-road cycle-routes.
NATURE: The city has the most 'green space' per person of any British city, and with Newcastle-under-Lyme has around 100 miles of paved off-road cycle-paths. Stoke is also surrounded on all sides by some of the most beautiful countryside in England - a countryside & city 'blend' which potentially offers new markets, networks and opportunities for savvy creative professionals. Stoke is adjacent to the Staffordshire Moorlandsand The Peak Districtnational park, the Roaches (famous rock climbing area), features the Staffordshire Waylong-distance footpath, and is within easy reach of the new 200 sq-mile National Forestaround Burton-upon-Trent -- all offering authentic experiences & challenging activities. Nearer home, the city's restored canals are also part of the attractions that bring over 4 million tourists into Stoke-on-Trent each year, supporting around 7000 jobs in the city.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING: Some of the most affordable terraced housesin England can be found here, due to the demise of the traditional steel & coal mining industries. A Victorian or Edwardian terrace house in Stoke-on-Trent averaged £70,618 at the end of June 2005 (Source: HM Land Registry, Q2 05 figures) - and prices continue to rise. Studio / warehouse / gallery / loft space is equally affordable to buy & renovate, especially for creatives who are re-locating after selling property in the South East.
INTER-CITY TRAINS: The city is within easy reach of the world-class arts & media resources of both Manchester(45 mins by train) and England's second-city Birmingham(55 mins by train). Londonis just 85 minutesaway by train.
ACCESS TO CLIENTS & BUYERS: The West Midlands is home to over 5 million people, making it bigger in population than Ireland, Norway or Denmark. You can have face-to-face access to literally millions of potential clients / buyers. Research shows that the surrounding areas of the Peak District National Park, Stone, and South Cheshire are some of the most wealthy on the UK. In addition, the huge city of Manchester is nearby to the north, and Nottingham is within striking distance to the east of Stoke. The M6 motorway passes very close to Stoke. Birmingham International Airport has a frequent Virgintrain service direct to Stoke-on-Trent.
THE 'GREEN SHOOTS' OF GROWTH SUCCESS:
*In Q4 2002 the Barclays Small Business Surveyfound that the ST postcode produced more start-up businesses (per 1000 population, counting only £50k+ pa VAT-registered firms) than Manchester, and just as many as the nearby hi-tech Telford new town. In 2004, the Royal Mail Map of Business Start-ups(covering all firms inc. self-employed) found that the number of local start-ups here had increased by more than almost anywhere else in the UK.
*KPMG's Competitive Alternatives 2004report declared Stoke-on-Trent to be themost cost-effective place to set up a new UK business.
*North Staffordshire has the largest concentration of professional-services firms in Midlands, outside Birmingham.
*In 2003 a DEMOS report found that the city of Stoke-on-Trent (not counting Newcastle-under-Lyme) was in the UK's top-twenty for Patent Applications.
*In the year to June 2004, commercial land values soared by 40% to £240k an acre.
*Stoke sits at the heart of an area which is very affluent and attracting jobs & income growth - the adjacent Peak District & the nearby town of Stone were both in the "top 15" areas of new UK wealth 'hotspots' in a June 2004 Financial Timesstudy.
FIND OUT MORE:
:: Stoke Tourist Board & the Staffordshire Moorlands Tourism.
:: The Sentinel newspaper.
:: BBC Stoke
:: Trentham Gardens in Stoke-on-Trent - currently going through a £100-million makeover to create one of the top tourism destinations in the country, complementing North Staffordshire's world-famous Alton Towers theme-park & gardens.
:: The Peak District National Park starts 9 miles from Stoke city centre. (Among many other beautiful things, the Park contains the earliest evidence of art in Britain; a 12,000 year old line drawing of a horse's head & neck, drawn onto a piece of bone found in a cave).