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#creativenewcastle, November 2015

It has been exactly one week today since the Creative Newcastle Event at Campus North. The event held on 26.11.2015 was the second event in the series of Creative Newcastle events.

Unfortunately, I had missed the first event due to flying out for a conference, but after getting an invite early last week I was so happy to be attending and certainly was not going to be missing out this time around. As always I try to get others interested so had invited a good friend of mine @edddutton to the event. Edd is a very enthusiastic young man who currently studies at Northumbria University and is currently involved with the NUOVO Society and has great interest in Brand Development.

What is the Creative Newcastle Event About?

The Creative Newcastle (Operating Hash Tag: #creativenewcastle) event has really opened it up to the floor here in Newcastle. It has really giving us all a good idea of where we currently stand in the UK when it comes down to being a big part of the creative industry in the UK. I was very impressed with the amount of people who turned out last Thursday night. It was packed with people from all creative backgrounds including designers, developers, bloggers, music artists, entrepreneurs and business owners.

The Creative Newcastle event has been set up to pull together a strong community of people from the public and private sectors who work in the creative industry. This includes people and companies who work in Web, Marketing, Design, Music, Technology and Other Business sectors. The purpose of the event is to debate and learn about the current infrastructure and talent the North East has to offer.

The aims of the event were:

  • To build recognition of the North East creative industry here in the UK.
  • Network and connect others together who are trying to solve the same problems creatively.
  • Increase access to funding for North East businesses
  • Develop a community to create a leading digital infrastructure

On the night we had a set of great speakers all of whom are from or currently work in the North East area. I share some information on these speakers and their talks below.

The event was opened by Ben Quigley, Chief Executive of Everything Different Marketing Group Services. Ben spoke briefly about the turnout of people on the night and explained why it was important to Newcastle that people made the effort to attend. He was extremely happy to see so many people since the first event. There was almost double the turn out of people for the second event which was absolutely great. Ben then briefed us on the nights agenda which can be found here.

Packed out Creative Newcastle

Speaker 1 - Leila Siddiqi, Marketing Manager - IPA

Leila is a London based member of the IPA. As marketing manager Leila is responsible for the creative pioneers apprenticeship programme and various creative industry projects relating to the export and inward investment. As well as that, Leila is also head of Diversity at the IPA, Leila sits on the Creative Industries Diversity Working Group.

Speaker 2 - Sarat Pediredla, Co-Founder - Hedgehog Lab

After working behind a desk for many years as a developer for agencies such as TH_NK, Sarat decided to take the opportunity to go it alone and opened his own business in the website development industry. Sarat recognised the saturation of people working in the web and wanted to go into something a little bit more specialised.

Sarat now fulfils a passion for entrepreneurship working in the digital and software sector. On the night Sarat delivered an exceptional talk about launching a post-pc business in the USA. Sarat spoke to us about transitioning from a day to day web development company to finding his way into the mobile app industry. Hedgehog lab’s growth from a small business to a larger scale company through excellent strategic decisions have got them to a point of where they are today. This was most certainly the most interesting talk of the night and I wish Sarat and his team the very best going forward.

Sarat Creative Newcastle
Sarat Creative Newcastle

Speaker 3 - Rob Earnshaw, Managing Director - Creative North

Rob is a very smart individual who has built up a group of companies, working alongside some of the biggest names in the creative and digital media industry. Rob currently owns and runs Creative North, a learning provider of Creative and Digital Media Apprenticeship programmes in the North East of England.

Rob’s talk outlined some very interesting statistics. Those statistics were about the people working in certain job positions in the different creative sectors in the the UK. I really do wish I had the slides to show you, maybe I can get those slides in due course and can update this post when I get them.

Rob spoke about the current talent gap in the creative industry where he pointed out facts about the many people who are currently in jobs they are not fully qualified for, nor do they have the specific skill sets. The number was quite staggering.

This turned the discussion to the attendees, asking how we can improve on this. Who’s responsible for this number being so high? Where does the problem lay? and how do we improve this?

Rob turned to Sarat to ask a question about any staffing issues he may have had in the past. Sarat spoke about the problems he had in 2014 where finding staff with to fill a skills gap was really difficult. I would love to see some continued discussion about this in the comments section below as we did not have much time to discuss the subject on the night.

Speaker 4 - Jim Mawdsley, Digital Union and CEO of Generator North East

Since the 80’s Jim has worked as an independent music producer all across the North East. He has promoted an incredible amount of gigs from very small pub gigs to large arena events. Jim took one of the best music events, Shindig from a local event to an internationally recognised brand over the 12 years he has been involved.

Speaker 5 - Paul Lancaster, Community Engagement & Partnerships Manager - Tech North

Paul is a tech start-up mentor and author of “Small Business Marketing For Dummies”. Paul helps support digital entrepreneurship all across the North from as far down as Manchester.

Paul spoke to us about the differences of creative togetherness between the areas of Newcastle to Manchester. He gave us information on how the Northern Power house has a big strong hold in the Manchester area. He mentioned the fact that Manchester are currently a lot more recognised than Newcastle in terms of the creative services and skill set provided in the North of England. This really hit home to some of the people listening in the room. How can we make Newcastle a better creative city? How can we drive good work? How do we establish a great name for ourselves in the North for the Creative Industry?

Summarising The Event

After Paul’s talk Ben returned to the stage for the event summary. We turned our attention to a infographic image on the large screen.

infographic Creative Newcastle
Photograph taken from Yousaf Khalid's Twitter Feed - @yousafkhalid

This graphic celebrated the great companies and creative establishments in and around the Newcastle City area. It also showed some of the globally recognised landmarks such as the Tyne Bridge and The Sage, Gateshead. The image showed what a fantastic city we are and amongst it the huge potential to grow and grow as the most powerful creative city not just in the UK but in the world!

Discussions returned to the floor on how we can use our city, along with the landmarks and companies within it to be a strong driving force of a successful Creative City in the future. Attendees discussed the companies and successful people from the area and how we can use these assets to move forward with our Creative Newcastle.

Manchester speak a lot about their Football Clubs and their creative icons such as Oasis to boost their city ego. Why can’t we express the success of our city with people like Jonny Ive of Apple, the biggest technology Innovator in Human history! If that’s not big enough I don’t know what is! And what about all of the others, Ant and Dec, Sir Bobby Robson, Cheryl Cole, Sting and Alan Shearer. Globally known names that we don’t shout about enough. If we have to get them involved in this, then lets try and do so!

Closing Thoughts

I’ve been running my business now for almost three years. I have gone from university to digital agency experience to having my own tiny clients to now having more established working relationships with businesses and brands such Real Madrid FC and Durham University. It has been a tough, long three years and I feel only now am I being established in the area as a reliable designer and developer who has the right skills to do his job.

I think and feel exactly the same for Creative Newcastle, only Creative Newcastle has a little bit of a head start and that’s because of the people who surround it. I can’t help but feel that Creative Newcastle is going to be a massive success. It is going to take some hard work and some real grit and determination for everyone involved but I truly believe we can be the top city not only in the UK but in the world when it comes to the creative industry. With the backing of our greatest assets, companies, councils, famous faces and family and friends we can rise to the top.

Let’s keep the #creativenewcastle conversation going until we meet again for the next event. On Twitter I suggested we set up some sort of closed group for people interested in discussing the #creativenewcastle subject. This could be a Facebook group or Slack channel I’ll leave the decision up to you. I have created a poll for this right here so please take part and I’ll get that set up. Lets get together sooner rather than later to discuss! Thanks for reading.

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