The Northern Creative Revolution

  • Ross Taylor
Make no mistake the creative industries are thriving. The value to the UK economy exceeded £91 billion in 2016 and the sector is growing faster than any other. 1 in every 8 businesses in the UK is now defined as ‘creative’ which importantly means for Creativepool members, that employment in the UK creative industries is growing at four times the rate of the UK workforce as whole, according to latest official statistics from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Whilst London is key to this growth, widely acknowledged as the tech start up capital of Europe, there is a creative revolution going on quietly in the North. London’s loud and showy persona is being snuck up on by the humble and modest pretenders. Manchester and Nottingham are thriving, but it is Leeds that is leading the charge.
Leeds currently has the fastest growing economy in the country and with overall average living costs on average half that of London (source, the talent migration has started.
Leeds recently ranked as one of the UK’s top creative cities by global real estate advisor CBRE. These locations are identified as having the key ingredients required by this sector to progress and develop as future destinations for the creative industries (including publishing, film, TV, media, digital, computer programming and information services). And as a destination for creative businesses, the report shows that Leeds has a huge amount to offer.  
London may have the Silicon Roundabout and the obvious associations with technology, but the digital scene in Leeds is thriving. It now offers a very viable alternative to those forging a career in tech.
According to Tech Nation, jobs in the city’s digital sector are up 7% and salaries are up 29% – but that’s not the only reason why digital professionals flock to Leeds.
Leeds’ digital industry is booming, with more and more businesses choosing to set up shop here, be it start-ups or international brands. But Leeds isn’t just a hub for businesses – it also has a strong digital community that makes working here all the more interesting.
There are over 3,500 digital and tech businesses in Leeds, with 70,000 people working in the industry – so it’ll come as no surprise that there’s a strong sense of community here. In fact, Leeds’ digital scene is thriving, both in and out of the office, with an incredibly diverse array of events and meet-ups giving everyone from coders to marketers a place to make friends, share ideas and collaborate.
Leeds was the city chosen to host the first-ever Creative Cities Convention. The conference offers a brand new meeting place for creative professionals across the UK. This year took place from the 25th - 26th of April at the Leeds College of Music, and included sponsorships from the BBC and Channel 4.
It is not just the working opportunities that talented creative are moving for. With the beautiful Yorkshire Dales on the doorstep and home to the largest City park in Europe, working life can be balanced with green space and well being. Leeds is steeped in history in music and film. It boasts one of the oldest cinemas in the country - the beautifully gas lit Hyde Park Picture House - and was the birthplace of the Kaiser Chiefs. With so much evidence showing a better work life balance drives creativity and productivity people are seeking alternatives to the chaotic London commute and Zone 1 lifestyle.
Leeds is now the second largest economy in the country and the Creative Hub of the North. A City full of opportunity and now a viable alternative to London for a career in the Creative Industries. The time to take advantage of this is now, before everyone else does.
If you are interested in exploring creative opportunities or career moves to Leeds, drop me a message on The Dots or email