Whilst much of the recent London creative / tech narrative has concentrated on the emerging digital cluster in East London, a day in Soho – based at the Groucho and taking in visits to BBH and Framestore (see this amazing behind the scenes film re: Gravity) – reinforces the Soho story as a world class, mature creative cluster.
On behalf of UKTI, and in partnership with Westminster City Council and London & Partners, I commissioned some research on the scale of the creative industries in Soho.
BOP Consultancy’s findings describe Soho as “the capital of creative employment”. More than 1 in 5 jobs in London’s creative industries are located in Soho, totalling 46,000 people in creative employment, and this figure has grown – by 25% between 2009 and 2012 – whilst the rest of the British economy was flat.
This employment cluster has concentrations on specific subsectors, for example 80% of the film production workforce, 98% of the VFX workforce and 38% of post production activity is located in the Central London / W1 area.
In addition Soho’s businesses are world leaders in their field, we were able to track nearly two hundred major creative awards from the last ten years including 22 Oscars and 50 D&AD pencils.
The catalyst for this focus is planning for the first Soho Create festival (4th-7th June 2014), described as “an inspiring gathering of the best creatives, to examine, celebrate, champion and demonstrate the craft of creating contemporary entertainment today”.
As the name implies the festival will be based in Soho and celebrate an ecosystem which whilst very different to the place where I started my career 20+ years ago, still buzzes with a creative vitality – just now with a global reach.