Why are we doing this?
Creative hubs are part of a world-wide movement, supporting creative communities to collaborate, create and thrive. They do this through extensive entrepreneurial activities, convening, sheer hard work and determination.
We define a creative hub as a space, either physical or virtual, that sustainably supports creative entrepreneurs and people to come together, collaborate and thrive. Creative hubs are increasing in number and rapidly becoming an important player in supporting creative communities globally. DeskMag has estimated that 1.2 million people worldwide are based in coworking spaces; that’s just one form a creative hub can take and doesn’t include the maker spaces, multi-purpose arts venues, virtual networks or many other types of creative hubs out there.
The opportunity for impact is huge, but there are currently no learning offers that cater directly to the needs of creative hub leaders. By getting closer to the needs, challenges and skills gaps amongst the hub communities, we can learn more about the common and shared problems facing creative hub leaders at the start of their journey, and develop a learning offer to support them.
What are we doing?
Together with our partners, the British Council and Hivos, we set out to get a better understanding of how these exciting enterprises are built, managed and sustained, and how we can help them to prosper. We are nearing the end of our research phase, and will soon move to developing our learning offer.
During the research phase, we worked closely with hub networks and communities to uncover insights to inform the development of our learning offer. We ran co-creation workshops in Bangkok with a cohort from across the South East Asian region, an impact focused session in Cairo with hub leaders from across the Pan-African region, and further workshops in Abuja with a group of hubs from four countries in West Africa. These networks provided the knowledge and experience, and Nesta’s role was to help facilitate, capture and synthesise these insights from both emerging and established hub leaders.
We took a user-focused approach to the research and held a series of workshops and interviews with selected participants in a number of locations in order to better understand hub leaders’ learning needs and expectations. In parallel, we conducted desk research and a review of existing support materials.
Following any further feedback, we will continue to refine our offer in collaboration with our partners and then start a phase of prototyping to test our initial offering in late Spring of 2018.
Creative hubs and creative enterprises are, by their very nature, extremely closely aligned. This new programme builds on ten years of impactful delivery of the Creative Enterprise Programme (CEP), in partnership with the British Council. Creative hubs exist to help support entrepreneurs to succeed and they offer important local provisions, be that through a space, network, practical support or an opportunity to learn.
As part of the delivery plan for the CEP this year, we have been working with in-country British Council teams and partners to build local capacity to deliver the programme. Our aim is to strengthen local networks and develop local communities of practice that support the development of the creative industries, and so supporting hubs is a very logical next step for us.
About our partners
Creative hubs are integral to the service portfolio of the British Council and Hivos. Both organisations have a strong track record in supporting the development of global hub networks. The British Council has developed programmes such as the European Creative Hubs Forum and Creative Hub Making Vietnam, and launched resources such as the Creative HubKit and Creative Hubs: Understanding the New Economy. They have also carried out mapping studies of creative hub networks in Europe, Vietnam and Taiwan and recently commissioned hub mapping research in Southern Africa and Southeast Asia.
Similarly, Hivos programmes include Mideast Creatives, Age of Wonderland, Ubunifu in East Africa and R.O.O.M, a brand new programme in collaboration with the British Council. Hivos has also organised several Global Creative Hub meetings, such as the Creative Hub Meeting in Southern Africa and the Coworking Summit.