Photo by William Warby on Unsplash

Annual review of 2021

Drawing on her passion and knowledge about the creative industries and experience gained previously in the commercial design sector, as a creative producer and working for Arts Council England, Project Director Emma Wilcox is dedicated to making Creative Estuary’s ambitious vision a reality.

As 2021 drew to a close, we asked Emma to review the top three Creative Estuary achievements last year as well as look ahead to 2022. We know picking just three couldn’t have been easy!

From launching a property portal to delivering the second Estuary festival, 2021 has been a hugely productive and successful year for the Creative Estuary team and all of our partners.

During the last 12 months, we have worked extremely hard to reinforce the tangible impact of our work, demonstrating the value of the creative industries.

As we head into 2022, I want to reflect on some of Creative Estuary’s biggest achievements this year.

Property Portal

In 2021, Creative Estuary launched its very own Property Portal to help steer businesses in the creative sector towards their ideal workspace in the Thames Estuary region.

Our new innovative website tool is the go-to place for those wanting to succeed in an area that is dedicated to creating sustainable workspaces, supporting people to secure the future of the creative industries in our region.

It showcases a broad spectrum of commercial properties across South Essex and North Kent including warehouses, studios, offices, co-working spaces and retail outlets.

Accessible on the Creative Estuary website, users can browse all the properties available or refine to a specific location. Users can also set up alerts to notify them when properties to their specifications newly come on to the market.

Creative Places Create Value

To help expand the provision of affordable workspace for creatives in new developments, we conducted a research study with the Creative Land Trust, to show that creative workspaces can make an important contribution to financial value in residential-led development:

  • Published in September, the report quantifies the relationship between the presence of creative workspace and positive change in residential values.
  • After undertaking detailed research, the team found that many developers now recognise the contribution of creative workspaces to the community, vitality and the wider economy.
  • This report has successfully helped us to change the way people view and value creative industries.

To access the report, click here.

Estuary 2021

From May 22 to June 13, our partners Metal and Cement Fields delivered the second Estuary festival which brought together communities and audiences after being separated for months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our 23-day-long arts festival celebrated the lives, landscapes and histories of the spectacular Thames Estuary.

During Estuary 2021, a range of artworks explored powerful themes resonant to the estuary through the lens of contemporary concerns, including climate justice, imperial legacy and protest and rebellion.

Through artworks set in the landscape, online and within Covid-safe venues, visitors got to explore the landscape and the rich, often overlooked stories of its diverse communities, bringing new audiences to a deeper understanding of the estuary.


As we start the New Year, I am keen to look ahead to what Creative Estuary will accomplish in 2022.

As the value of the creative industries become more widely acknowledged, our team is committed to continuing to develop the sector to benefit everyone living in the Thames Estuary region.

With that in mind, here are my top three Creative Estuary priorities for 2022.

Capturing impact and telling stories

As we enter a new year, I am eager to share more stories of how our work is having a positive impact on the residents and in our communities.

Capturing evidence of people thriving in creative settings will highlight the importance of this sector and lead to greater investment.

In 2022, we will show through case studies the benefits of our industry, so others can see the potential for where they live and work.

Showcasing and developing skills

Through our Re:Generation 2031 programme we will continue to offer creative placements and opportunities to develop the next generation of cultural and creative leaders.

In 2021, we focused on building the foundation for these projects, in 2022 we will showcase these innovative schemes by getting them over the finishing line. I believe in this area of work because:

  • We want to empower and inspire more young people from across the estuary to access creative careers and develop the skills they need to create the jobs of the future.
  • We believe that the cultural and creative future of the Thames Estuary should be shaped by the ambitions of its young people.
  • The project will address challenges faced by small businesses and freelancers in delivering skills and training.

Business directory

Later this year we are planning to launch the Creative Estuary business directory to profile the talented people working in our sector across Estuary.

With freelancers and smaller businesses making up such a huge part of the creative industry, our new tool will help people promote themselves and connect.

You’ll be able to use our business directory to see who’s contributing to making Creative Estuary one of the most exciting creative hubs in the world.

2021 wrap up

As we say goodbye to 2021, I’m enormously proud of what Creative Estuary has achieved this year. The launch of our own Property Portal, the delivery of Estuary 2021 and delivering the Creative Places Create Value report have been just some of our accomplishments.

Going into 2022, I am confident that the Creative Estuary team, and our wide range of partners, will carry on building a better future for the creative industries in the Thames Estuary region, a good place for making.

Creative Estuary property portal