MyCake’s Founder Sarah Thelwall is on a short tour of Kent on the 8th and 9th of December primarily because she is teaching a cashflow master class for School for Creative Startups but also for the fun of tracking down a few more funfairs (Dreamland, Margate) and lidos (Walpole Bay) plus of course it is a great excuse to see what the creative entrepreneurs of Kent are up to … A bit of homework before teaching a class of them on Monday. So this post is really just a few musings after a busy Sunday exploring…
There’s a reason that creatives in Whitstable call it Whitster-bubble .. It was the first of the Kent towns to experience significant regeneration and develop a strong creative-based community. The artists who have lived here for decades have more recently been joined by a wider variety of creatives many of whom split their time between London and Whitstable and are able to do so with relative ease due to good train links. The light is great, the community is strong and whilst house prices have risen significantly space is still cheaper than London … A bonus if you are looking for a studio for your production as well as a place to live. With great business advisors such as Yvonne Fuchs (the branding workshop) also based there creatives can get superb advice and consultancy as well.
But how are Margate and Folkestone doing? Margate has certainly benefitted from the opening of the Turner Contemporary not only because it acts as a draw for tourists but also because it provides employment which utilises and builds on the skills of the creatives in the city, imports senior creative staff and regularly brings established artists to the city which in turn increases the opportunities for artists based here to develop. The streets around the Turner Contemporary are enjoying a renaissance as a new, more design and art oriented audience arrives in town and the volume of design, vintage and art retailers has increased significantly in the past 5 years.
Folkestone too is changing. Building on the successes of Navigating History and the Triennial the Creative Quarter has rapidly built a reputation as the heart of the creative community. This has been built organically by the local creative crowd and is most certainly not a council initiative. In fact if anything they could probably grow faster if they had some support! In addition to the likes of Anecdote, Rennies and Cursley & Bond the Old High Street boasts great coffee at Manifest and superb Victorian architecture which is a fabulous contrast to the contemporary delights of Rocksalt.
So from the outside it looks good but I have a few questions to put to the participants in today’s workshop if I am to really start to understand the creative ecosystem here in Kent and these are:
- How many businesses do you need to create a magnet that draws in footfall and is it working in Folkestone?
- How does the distance from London affect the markets and customers that Kent creatives are targeting?
- Is the cost of running a business lower?
- How seasonal are the businesses based in seaside towns and how does this affect the business models?
A word from MyCake
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