Speaking at a virtual media launch this morning, it was explained that the champions are the influential leaders in their profession, industry and community – creative catalysts and ground breakers.
Jatin Patel (pictured) is one of the inaugural champions. The Creative Director at Kalikas Armour, a luxury fashion label, has been based in the Bonded Warehouse in Rochester since 2010, and has high-profile clients all over the world. He commented:
“Becoming a champion for Creative Estuary was an easy decision. Like me, the project recognises the value in the Thames Estuary as a home for former cottage industries that have metamorphosised into commercial creative enterprises.”
Patel continued: “I simply can’t imagine being anywhere else – the rawness and edginess of the area offers endless inspiration – even my walk to work, along the river, is a treasure trove of natural beauty, industry and creativity.
My long-term plans for Kalikas Armour are rooted here, with the benefit of a nearby fashion school, university and existing talent, I am planning to develop and create a sustainable hub for fashion that is made in England– from learning, to making and beyond”.
Other champions from across the creative, education, development and finance sectors, echoed his sentiments and expressed their excitement about being involved in such an impactful project. Champions include Alex Beard, Chief Executive of The Royal Opera House, Katharine Stout, Director of Focal Point Gallery, Karen Cox, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent and Ray Mia, music producer and board member of the Thames Estuary Growth Board. They too have close links to the Estuary and shared what they think makes the Estuary “a good place for making”, including easy access to London and into Europe, the top educational institutions in the region and the existing talent pool.
The UK Minister for Digital and Culture, Caroline Dinenage MP spoke of the importance of Creative Estuary to the UK:
“At such a challenging time, it is inspiring that culture can continue to bring us together.
With an investment of £4.3m from the Cultural Development Fund, the government has committed to transform the Thames Estuary area into the world’s largest production corridor.
Creative Estuary is absolutely vital to realising that vision of developing a collaborative and inspiring place to work for a whole new generation of creative talent.”
Sarah Dance (pictured), Chair of Creative Estuary, Deputy Chair of the South East Local Economic Partnership and Co-chair of the Thames Estuary Production Corridor (TEPC) said,
“I am delighted that the government has directly recognised the ambitions of the Thames Estuary Production Corridor. Projects like Creative Estuary don’t happen in glorious isolation and it builds on the longer term investment that there has already been in culture and creative industries in the area.
The ambition for Creative Estuary is relatively simple – to transform 60 miles of the Thames Estuary across Essex and Kent into one of the most exciting cultural hubs in the world.
I really believe that the Thames Estuary area is a region of untold creative potential and Creative Estuary is just the beginning; but what a beginning.”
Creative Estuary’s distinctive brand, developed in consultation with a wide group of stakeholders via online workshops, aims to tell the story of the Estuary – the place and its people – and its creative ambitions for the future.
The visual identity takes its inspiration from the industrial and architectural heritage of the Estuary and its long-held reputation as a place for making. The brand, including the identity, was developed by Playne Design.
Like many other organisations, the team had to navigate recent turbulent times, be creative and adapt to unfamiliar methods of working. New ways had to be found to reach and engage with stakeholders and the challenges of successive lockdowns meant that brand development had to be agile, utilising new technologies to aid communication and accessibility for stakeholders.
The result is a brand that encapsulates the exciting essence of the project as well as the optimistic, ambitious and collaborative sense of place of the Thames Estuary.
The role of a champion for Creative Estuary is to be a passionate advocate and promoter for both the project and the place and help amplify the message and foster investment in the area.
With an ambition to transform 60 miles of the Thames Estuary across Essex and Kent into one of the most exciting cultural hubs in the world, the £6.5m Creative Estuary programme will transform the visibility, identity and future of the region’s creative production infrastructure, supporting more than 400 new jobs, delivering new skills, qualifications and apprenticeships for 300 people.
Stretching from Southend to Margate, the Thames Estuary is a region of untold creative potential. A network of fishing towns, heritage sites, imposing dockyards and post-industrial communities, it is home to some of the fastest growing regions in the UK and benefits from unprecedented levels of regeneration investment.
In early 2019 the University of Kent was awarded £4.3m from The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Cultural Development Fund on behalf of the partners who include the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), Kent and Essex County Councils, the Greater London Authority, 11 local authority areas represented by Thames Gateway Kent Partnership and Opportunity South Essex, South East Creative Economy Network (SECEN), University of Essex, Locate in Kent and cultural organisations, Metal and Cement Fields.
Creative Estuary is part of the Government endorsed Thames Estuary Production Corridor (TEPC) project, initiated by SECEN and the Greater London Authority. TEPC was recognised as a key part of the Estuary’s future in the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission report, attracting investment from both The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and DCMS.
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