Creative hubs – whether physical or virtual – are spaces for creative entrepreneurs to connect and support one another while developing their practice in a nurturing environment. They create communities and networks of artists, designers, activists and culture producers, and come in a range of forms including makerspaces, music studios, fablabs, collectives, online creative communities, co-working spaces, design hubs, art spaces, etc. They have become a fast growing ecosystem across the globe, creating a world-wide movement with over 1.2 million people currently using co-worker spaces alone.
Creative economies are an important part of any economy across the globe, and are even more critical drivers of employment and GDP in low- and middle-income countries in the Global South. Within this, creative hubs play an important societal role, increasing access to information literacy, creating jobs, developing creative and cultural sectors and creating space for freedom of expression. They also have the potential to strengthen and deepen developing creative ecosystems, and provide a vital lifeline for growth and sustainability of often unique artistic practitioners and budding entrepreneurs.
We have joined forces with the British Council and Hivos to develop Creative Hubs Academy, a brand new learning programme specific to the needs of creative hub leaders, and with the space to adapt to the specific needs of localised regions. We’ve worked directly with hubs to understand the challenges and skills gaps among the hub communities at different stages, and the programme has several levels:
- Skills and capacity building: tools, resources and learning experiences to support the growth of creative hubs and their communities, developed in partnership with hub leaders from around the world, and responding to different stages of hub growth.
- Building networks, sharing and amplifying: sharing best practice across a growing global community, embedding tools and resources with local hub champions, and creating stronger conditions for policy changes innovations to occur in support of creative hubs.
- Mapping and codifying: What competencies, skills and attributes are needed to run sustainable impactful creative hubs? This question will underpin the capacity building content we create this year, and form a competency framework from which hub leaders and their teams can self navigate. We will also be keeping note of everyone we work with and hubs accessing our resources, to continue to build the global picture of this growing movement.
The new Creative Hubs Academy leaflet explains the programme in more depth.
Over the next 12 months, our collective aim is to test and iterate a range of support programmes and content in different countries around the world. We’ll be sharing our progress online and at events, and looking ahead building an online resource library to share this content with the hubs community.
Longer term, we seek to build a scalable programme of support for this global hubs community that will see them achieve deeper and more sustainable impact worldwide. Keep an eye on this project page for updates on our progress.
As a partnership, Nesta, the British Council and Hivos, are interested in ways in which the creative economy, arts and culture are innovating to remain relevant, diverse, sustainable and inclusive. Nesta’s research looking at which skills will be needed in the future has highlighted the importance of creativity, with 87% of ‘creative occupations’ resistant to automation. With a growing young workforce, global shortage of jobs and opportunities, and an ever present need for community organising and activism, there has never been a more important time to be supporting communities to be creatively entrepreneurial and collectively strong.
Creative Hubs Academy builds on ten years of impactful delivery of the Creative Enterprise Programme (CEP), in partnership with the British Council. As part of the delivery plan for the CEP, we have been working with British Council teams 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. Supporting hubs is a very logical next step for us, contributing to broader ecosystem development.
Creative hubs are integral to the service portfolio of British Council and Hivos. Both organisations have a strong track record in supporting the development of global hub networks. Nesta is experienced in building creative learning offers that develop the capabilities of people innovating for the common good.
Hivos has worked for over five years to support creative hubs, through Coworking for Sustainable Employment, Age of Wonderland, Resource of Open Minds and Ubunifu. Hivos has also organised several Global Creative Hub meetings, such as the Creative Hub Thinktank in Southern Africa, the Coworking Summit in Tunisia and the Future of African Cities Summit in Egypt.
British Council has worked with over 600 creative hubs globally since 2013, developing programmes such as the European Creative Hubs Forum and Creative Hub Making Vietnam, and launching resources such as the Creative HubKit and Creative Hubs: Understanding the New Economy. British Council has 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.