Photography by Alan Fletcher
LCSI was funded by Lincolnshire County Council and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for a three year period: January 2005 to March 2008. Additional funding to support research into the creative industries sector in Lincolnshire was provided by the Arts Council England, East Midlands along with support in kind from the University of Lincoln for the business incubation programme. Overall, more than £900,000 has been directly invested into the creative and cultural industries in Lincolnshire while the programme’s beneficiaries have used their grants and subsidies to lever in substantial additional financial investment in their businesses and festivals. LCSI has successfully delivered, and indeed, in many cases over delivered against all of its finalized ERDF targets.
The USP of the type of small – indeed essentially micro creative industry businesses – that the LCSI programme was designed to support is the creative skills of their owners. It is rarely appropriate for such businesses to employ PAYE staff – and thus unrealistic to anticipate that investment in the sector will generate additional jobs. However, when operating successfully such micro businesses are able to support the growth of an effective creative industry supply chain because they procure services and goods from other companies. LCSI invested in creative businesses and festivals through the five strands of the programme – GROW, SEED, FLOURISH, FESTIVAL and ENHANCE. This has generated positive economic benefits in the form of increased incomes and earnings. Consequently there has been an increase overall in the economic contribution of the creative industries to Lincolnshire’s economy and the recognition of potential to support future growth.
This has generated positive economic benefits in the form of increased incomes and earnings. Consequently there has been an increase overall in the economic contribution of the creative industries to Lincolnshire’s economy and the recognition of potential to support future growth
Over 75% of creative enterprises reported that their turnover increased by more than 10% since they became LCSI beneficiaries. Conservatively estimating that £3 out of every £4 of increased turnover is attributable to the impact of LCSI support, the programme has directly led to an increase in turnover of some £400,000 for these businesses as a whole. Of the almost £525,000 provided in the form of direct grants to businesses and organisations, 30% was spent on the procurement of goods and services from other Lincolnshire businesses. In addition, of the expenditure beneficiaries have made using LCSI grants and subsidies, more than 50% has been retained within Lincolnshire, supporting other creative businesses and suppliers. LCSI has significantly increased networking between practitioner and practitioner and between practitioners and funders. Crucially there is a growing business-like feel to the creative industries in Lincolnshire and measurable economic impacts.
At least 14% of LCSI funds supported the business growth of other members of the LCSI network. Besides building a creative industry supply chain comprising over 100 companies, a comprehensive database of 1,000 key players locally, regionally and nationally has been built. Beneficiaries have taken part in ‘Go See’ field visits: clusters of festivals and creative enterprises have made research trips which have taken them, to date, the length and breadth of the UK and to France, Germany, Southern Ireland, Iceland and Canada.
This has resulted in new insights, raised ambition, shared practice and has enabled Lincolnshire enterprises to have a real sense of being part of a bigger national and international picture. Support for stronger marketing and PR materials and, above all, effective use of digital tools has been central to achieving connectivity. A major thrust of the programme has been the provision of bespoke advice and financial support to commission ‘fit for purpose’ business and festival websites. Of the 95 beneficiaries of the five LCSI programmes, 91 now have web-sites. In addition, Art on the Map has been assisted to address the challenge of running an open studio festival across a county that has the same landmass as Northern Ireland by creating a ‘virtual headquarters’. Organisational and business development was the underpinning motivation of the support provided to the 12 festival organisations benefiting from the FESTIVAL strand of the programme.
The pilot Festival Forum enabled festival organisations to come together to address common challenges. In many cases this led on to groups of festivals clustering together. In 2007 the Gainsborough Riverside, West Lindsey Churches and Credo Festivals collaborated to increase the scope and ambition of their arts programming and together commissioned an evaluation report. In 2008 these festivals plan to take forward recommendations jointly. The numbers of festivals supported and their attendees rose year on year. In 2007 alone, the 12 editions of festivals LCSI supported attracted more than 53,000 attendees. Overall, 85,000 people attended the 23 editions of festivals LCSI funded, generating an estimated local expenditure in excess of £1.1 million. Taken together, the festivals’ direct, indirect and induced contribution generated economic benefits amounting to in excess of £1.4 million.