Creative City Networks Review

Creative City Networks Review

Earlier this year, Creative Scotland commissioned EKOS to study the impact of three creative city networks, Creative Dundee, Creative Edinburgh and Creative Stirling. Each network is independent, focussing on their own distinctive aims and objectives tailored to each of the three cities and has received funding support from Creative Scotland.

The review intended to provide information on the impact of each network on its respective city, identifying potential for future development, and any lessons that might be adopted in other cities.

Summarising the Review 

A summary of the review can be downloaded here and some of the key highlights are included below:

Operational Models

Each of the three projects has evolved a distinctive model, albeit with some common characteristics. In particular, each network shares the following:

  • a broad and inclusive focus that seeks to encourage collaboration right across the spectrum of creative activity;
  • an emphasis on largely informal styles of networking activities and events;
  • a ‘bottom up’ approach that is firmly grounded in the needs of the sector and maintains close connection to the creative community in each city;
  • a strong feel of being ‘of the sector’ rather than ‘for the sector’, a function of fact that those leading each network come themselves from the creative community – this enables a high degree of trust;
  • a commitment to working in partnership across the creative industries and the public sector;  provision of information via digital means;
  • and a focus on signposting to existing business support rather than direct provision.


All three projects are reportedly creating benefits for participant businesses and practitioners as well as for their wider constituencies (sector and city). In each base, the feedback from beneficiaries was positive, and it is clear that the networks are providing valuable opportunities for cross-sector networking and facilitating collaboration across disciplines. This is entirely in line with their organisational ambitions.

It is also worth noting that even though economic impact is not an explicit objective of any of the projects, evidence was found of some such benefit, even if modest. This simply underlines the important role of networking in supporting growth in the creative sector.

In fact, this last point is part of the central rationale for these projects, and three issues are important in this respect:

  • contrary to popular myth, the creative process is not a solitary pursuit. It is more often a collaborative effort across disciplines. Networking is an essential means of facilitating this collaboration;
  • innovation is what drives growth and development in the creative industries, and the very process of innovation is also highly collaborative and interdisciplinary. Networking is again crucial in creating the opportunities for innovation to coalesce;
  • the creative industries congregate at regional rather than national levels. It makes good sense to support networking at a local (city) level.

Clearly then the networks are achieving impacts insofar as they are creating the opportunities for knowledge sharing, peer learning and support and collaboration. At the city level, impacts and benefits are far harder to evidence.

To read more from the report, download the summary report: Mapping Three City Networks – A Summary.

Creative City Networks Review Event

During a review event on 10 July 2014, speakers from each of the three networks, network members, Creative Scotland and Jim Galloway, Head of Enterprise and Innovation – Economic Development at City of Edinburgh Council discussed the value of the Creative City Networks.

Below you can watch the video of all talksview the slides and read blogs about each network. You can also read the Storify stream of social stories from the day here.

Watch the speakers

Joe Hall, Creative Stirling
Gillian Easson, Creative Dundee (watch at 08 mins 40 secs)
Janine Matheson, Creative Edinburgh (watch at 17 mins 10 secs) 
Jim Galloway, City of Edinburgh Council  (watch at 30 mins 07 secs)

View the presentation 

View the blogs

View Joe Hall's Creative Stirling Blog
View Gillan Easson's Creative Dundee Blog
View Janine Matheson's Creative Edinburgh Blog 

Contact the Creative City Networks

The Networks are now interested to hear from other networks, locally, nationally and internationally. Each has specific areas of expertise and are keen to share and learn from other similar projects. Please feel to contact the Creative City Networks here.

This article was published on 10 Sep 2014