Which UK regions could benefit from design funding?

Arts Council England announced last week that it has an increased budget and aims to spend more outside of London. We ask designers – which UK regions could benefit from financial investment in design and what could be done there?

Erika Clegg, co-founder, Spring - Suffolk
Erika Clegg, co-founder, Spring – Suffolk

“Spring’s based on the east coast, in an area which is currently working on a possible devolution deal. If the East does manage to get this through, it stands to gain finance and political clout which will in turn support infrastructure development, skills training, talent retention and regional brand profile as part of a locally managed economic development programme. This, more than anything, will support the growth of more successful, sustainable and client-oriented design businesses in the East of England – already a place immersed in creativity and innovation, and a great home for liberated thinking, it’s likely to enjoy a boom if the structures are in place to support us.”

Kerr Vernon, founder, Kerr Vernon Graphic Design - Glasgow
Kerr Vernon, founder, Kerr Vernon Graphic Design – Glasgow

“As a Scottish designer based in Glasgow I’m always happy to hear about increased budgets and spending outside of London. My first thought would be to say Glasgow but Aberdeen’s needs are far greater. With the fall in oil prices the city is in crisis and even the most resilient and established agencies have had to close their doors and admit defeat. What could be done? I’d like to see more investment in social enterprises for design related grass roots initiatives, like the recent graphic design festival we had here in Glasgow.”

Bill Strohacker, founder, Strohacker Studio - Chichester
Bill Strohacker, founder, Strohacker Studio – Chichester

“The Arun district on the south coast (Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, etc.) would benefit greatly from financial investment in design. I think it’s essential to the successful regeneration of an area that is perceived as having a lower socio-economic status and offering lower-value employment. Empowering students is integral to the new Strohacker Design School. Based at the University of Chichester in Bognor Regis, we provide an alternative route into the design industry. We offer places to students from all backgrounds and with Arts Council England and local business support, we could offer bursaries to those from deprived areas.”

Sam Farrow, founder, Farrow Creative - Petersfield
Sam Farrow, founder, Farrow Creative – Petersfield

“Portsmouth is Britain’s only island city, which explains why it’s also the most densely populated UK city outside of London. As well as its 200,000 residents, Portsmouth is home to genuine national treasures, including HMS Victory, the Mary Rose, the 170-metre-tall Emirates Spinnaker Tower and Charles Dickens’ birthplace; yet it still struggles to be taken seriously as a tourist destination and business location. Investment in design could help the City Council sell Pompey more effectively to the nation at large, and bring in much-needed visitors, revenue and investment.”

Sue Strange, client services director, Music - London and Manchester
Sue Strange, client services director, Music – London and Manchester

“When I moved back up north in 2001 after 17 years living in London, I couldn’t quite believe the prevailing attitude back then, which was that anything of note in design happening outside London was a triumph of dogged persistence in the face of a lack of interest, or a happy accident. Thankfully, in regional cities this has now changed for the better.

What I’d like to see more is investment beyond cities. Embrace artists, designers and craftspeople based in provincial towns across the UK, through local council funding and support, which gives them genuine opportunities to set up shop and the incentive to stay there.”

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  • Tim Gay October 24, 2016 at 11:30 am

    Some of the usual suspects here. What about the South West and Wales?

  • Nick Turner October 27, 2016 at 9:20 am

    I am a designer in a place that me and my colleagues feel is the true forgotten county for design – Cumbria. There is lots of talent here and some real innovative projects, but we are always over looked for other places such as Manchester and Newcastle. I am based in Carlisle and it really does feel like the border city that the design world has forgotten about.

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