Research aimed at establishing Ramsgate as a centre for creative businesses will be carried out by a community interest company founded by former Thanet council community services director Rob Kenyon.
Mr Kenyon, who left the authority in 2017, is joined by Dreamland Trust chairperson Bernie Morgan and construction boss Derek Newman at Heritage Lab CIC.
Kent and Medway’s inward investment agency, Locate in Kent, is partnering with Arts Council England and Heritage Lab for the major research project.
The digital and creative industries have been highlighted by government as a priority for growth with the aim for the UK to become a world leader in this area. Thanet district is already putting down a marker with businesses in this sector growing by an impressive 84% in the four years to 2017.
Locate in Kent and Arts Council England are jointly funding the work by Heritage Lab, which aims to regenerate historic buildings and community assets to make affordable space for the creative sector and community.
The research will help to determine the size, scope, needs and potential of the Ramsgate creative economy. It will look at the potential demand over the next five years for a range of creative space from studios and co-working projects to exhibition and performance space; and determine the area’s unique selling points and investment offer.
Ramsgate is one of the only Heritage Actions Zones (HAZ) in the UK and is home to more than 450 listed buildings. Many of the buildings are in poor condition, underused or remain empty but once restored could bring an increase in visitors and spend to support further regeneration.
Mr Kenyon said: “Ramsgate is steeped in cultural heritage. World-renowned authors, artists and architects such as Jane Austen, Wilkie Collins, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Mary Townley, Vincent Van Gogh, Karl Marx and Augustus and Edward Pugin have all lived and thrived in Ramsgate. Its cultural and heritage assets are now attracting a new generation of successful creative professionals and this research will help us to help the sector to grow.”
Gavin Cleary, CEO, Locate in Kent, said: “We know that many creative industries and start ups are concentrated in areas with a high heritage density. With over 450 listed buildings, and only 63 minutes to London by train, Ramsgate is ideally placed for continued growth in the creative sector and is a prime location for those wanting to invest or relocate in Kent. This research will provide invaluable insight for investors and business leaders about the future opportunities in Ramsgate.”
Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, added: “Arts, culture and creativity can have a vital role in driving our economy and so it is really exciting to support Heritage Lab’s research project.
“I hope that this research creates a platform for Ramsgate to become a creative hub in the South East, providing the space and support for creative businesses, organisations and artists to thrive.”