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"…creativity is a cross cutting theme that runs through all successful businesses".

As we bid a sad farewell to Ruth Raban, our outgoing director states the reasons why Creative Lancashire is still relevant and signs off with a challenge for others to 'step up!'

"It has been a pleasure working for Creative Lancashire for the past 8 years and building a service to be proud of. I’ve met some inspiring people and have enjoyed support from some great businesses.

During the time I’ve been in post we’ve been telling a consistent story about the sector and how important it is to the economy, to the social fabric of the county and the well being of the inhabitants. It’s not easy feeling that you have to continually explain the need for the Creative Lancashire service, to repeatedly make a case for the digital and creative sector, to justify your existence.

Creative Lancashire service has succeeded in convincing quite a few nay sayers including councillors, chief officers, business leaders and key external bodies. We have managed to make the case for the crucial part that the Creative and Digital sector plays within the county, but its not been easy. In the early days creative industries were not visible, not clearly marked on the map, their small studios overshadowed by the large factories and engineering works.

Some of the success was due to our recognition from the start that creativity is a cross cutting theme that runs through all successful businesses. Entrepreneurs are inherently creative people, creating ideas, products, services, jobs and wealth. Establishing a business is a creative process. Great creativity and design help drive the economy.

The digital and creative sector is broad and diverse from the work alone studio artist to the digital agency, music to marketing, advertising and PR, to film, photography and fashion, dance and performance. From the tech start up to the large-scale design product manufacturer, creative industries are a broad church. As a strategic lead body for the county Creative Lancashire has strived to unite a fragmented sector acting across the sub region with our partners in Blackburn and Blackpool.

Businesses need specificity, specific skills, specific advice and networking, the creative industries in particular. One voice, one stop, one knowledge base, Creative Lancashire can provide that platform and is an invaluable partner for the regions fast growth businesses.
Phil Jones, CEO, Brother, October 2014

During Creative Lancashire’s existence I’ve seen many changes within the council with unprecedented cuts in public services, but Creative Lancashire has managed to weather the storm. The shared passion from the board and the team for the creative process and what can be achieved through that process has given Creative Lancashire the necessary drive to deliver.

It seems after 8 years of hard work the creative economy is still misunderstood and marginalized by the powers that be. Characterised by small micro companies it is not as vocal as the big boys of engineering and manufacturing. But times are changing. These small companies are the lifeblood of the economy. Growing faster than any other sector in the UK and at a higher rate than the UK economy as a whole, creative and digital in particular are the future of Lancashire.

The digital revolution is upon us and is the economic opportunity of the age. Technology is expanding into all our lives, redefining the way we work, consume and create. Digital technology offers us new ways to understand consumers, to reach global markets, to distribute goods and services, to create new business models and new revenue streams. As the sector matures and gains confidence it will be a force to be reckoned with.

Creativity is not however just for entrepreneurs to build a strong economy, but it is also about improving the quality of life and making Lancashire an attractive place to live and work. Creative festivals, exhibitions, conferences and events will not just focus attention on a city, but help us communicate more effectively, communally celebrate life and better understand the human condition. The arts and culture have the ability to transport us, to inspire us, to refine us.

Manchester and Liverpool provide us with great examples of how creativity, when prioritized within the economic plan, can create a step change in peoples’ perceptions of place. Creative events help to bruild a strong brand awareness that can translate into a proposition and attract inward investment. There are a host of reasons why Preston is challenged to compete with these neighbouring cities, but two of the most influential are how the city is perceived and what people find when they get here.

Creative Lancashire has worked hard to put Lancashire on the map and for it to be recognized for its creative and economic contribution. We’ve built some strong national partnerships with the Arts Council, Design Council, the Crafts Council, Creative England, the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts, The Drum, the Musicians Union, the Performing Rights Society, Innovate UK and the Queens Award Office to name a few. The list of regional and local partners is too long to mention.

Now that I’m leaving and look back at what we’ve achieved I realise that our work has not been in vain. It has been well worth investing the time and effort to promote the sector and build the network. It was worth repeatedly making the case and presenting the argument because it has helped push the agenda on and create a visibility. There is now a strong engagement and ‘buy-in’ from the digital and creative business community and a confidence demonstrated by the businesses leaders that I have not seen before. The time is right for these leaders to step forward and exert their influence, to engage with the establishment, to lobby for recognition and to have their voices heard."

Ruth Raban FRSA