Bid team makes the case for Channel 4 creative hub

Published: Thursday, 28th June 2018

A team of film and creative sector, civic, business and education leaders are meeting Channel 4 bosses this morning (Thursday) to make the case for Stoke-on-Trent becoming a creative hub for the broad

The presentation team includes:

  • Oscar winner and former Hollyoaks actress Rachel Shenton.
  • Animator and Staffordshire University graduate Daniel Waterman of Carse and Waterman.
  • Peter Rudge, associate professor of film production technology at Staffordshire University and chair of Platform, the moving image cluster for Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.
  • Stoke-on-Trent City Council deputy leader Abi Brown.
  • Jerahl Hall, a Stoke-on-Trent born YMCA youth ambassador.
  • Sarah Tudor, head of employer engagement at Staffordshire University.

The team will be setting out how Stoke-on-Trent is a creative, connected and competitive city that combines artistry, innovation and enterprise. They will say how it is a city with the transferable skills to be a perfect regional fit for the London-based broadcaster, which is looking to move its staff out of the capital.

They will also explain the positive medium and long-term economic impact a creative hub could bring to the city. If successful it is estimated that the bid would boost the local economy by £60m, double the number of creative companies, create 600 new skilled jobs and 100 new apprentice roles in creative industries as well as see an increased number of graduates staying in the city after they finish their education.

Oscar-winning film maker Rachel Shenton is a member of the bid team. Rachel, who cast, shot and produced her Academy Award-winning short film The Silent Child in the city, said: “This is a great opportunity to do something for my city. I’ve given my full backing to the bid and am thrilled that I am able to help convince Channel 4 that we’re the perfect fit for them and vice versa. It’s an honour to be involved.

“My experience in working for Channel 4 on flagship soap Hollyoaks helped me to grow creatively. It is an edgy, dynamic and boundary-pushing broadcaster. It gives a voice to under-represented people and groups. In Stoke-on-Trent it will find a city with the flair to create exciting new content and an infrastructure of talented film and production companies that is already embedded and is helping creative people to thrive.

“Stoke-on-Trent is a fantastic opportunity for Channel 4 to develop its gifted creative teams, reach out to new audiences and produce the kind of programmes that sets it apart from other broadcasters.”

Channel 4 is creating two hubs as well as a new national headquarters outside of London. The moves are the biggest organisational changes in the broadcaster’s 35-year history – measures it says will boost UK nations and regions by £250m. It will create 300 jobs in the UK’s nations and regions, and intends to open both hubs and the headquarters in 2019.

Stoke-on-Trent joins other shortlisted cities in making presentations to Channel 4 this month. The broadcaster will then make its final decision on 1 October.

Councillor Abi Brown said: “We all know why our city is right for Channel 4 – we are doing all that we can to make the case to the judges so they can see this natural fit too. The shortlist that we’re up against shows that this city is a serious and significant national player. The benefits to people in the city will be huge too. Our case is compelling and we are working hard to ensure it is told. We are a creative, competitive and connected city that has highly skilled local graduates, a hugely talented creative sector – many of whom have contributed to the bid process – and a fantastic quality of life to offer. Securing a hub in Stoke-on-Trent would propel our journey to be one of the UK’s leading cities. Thanks to everyone who has helped with the bid and got involved. It’s been inspirational to see.”

Residents, businesses and creative groups across the city and beyond are encouraged to take to social media again and celebrate the shortlisting, using the hashtag #C4Stoke.

Councillor Janine Bridges, cabinet member for education and economy, said: “Stoke-on-Trent is a city that is on the up. In the last three years we have invested heavily in our city, for example in strengthening our excellent infrastructure links, providing tailored support to secure new businesses at one of the country’s fastest-growing enterprise zones and in the process creating 1,800 jobs, and redeveloping the redundant and historic former Spode factory into a thriving creative hub.

“We’re different from other bidding cities because Channel 4 can have a real role to play in our city’s future. They can help to us to regenerate and build on the strong progress that we are making. And equally important, Channel 4 would act as an inspiration and motivation for young people to look at a career in the creative arts.”

Peter Rudge, chair of Platform – which supports the city’s growing film and television industry – and associate professor of motion picture industries at Staffordshire University, said: “The city is a destination for innovative and exciting moving image production and having a creative hub here would naturally build on already strong foundations. For example, Platform, Rachel Shenton, Carse and Waterman and Enlighten – all Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire-based companies and individuals – have been named in Creative England's top 50 leaders and innovators. This is a concrete example of the momentum that is now behind the moving image industry in the region.”

The bid has cross-party support from all three Stoke-on-Trent MPs Ruth Smeeth (Stoke-on-Trent North), Gareth Snell (Stoke-on-Trent Central) and Jack Brereton (Stoke-on-Trent South). It also has the support of a host of celebrities and influential creative leaders. Support has also been pledged by the city’s business community, the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and the organisations across the wider Staffordshire area.

Sing and sign group Deaflinks is one of a number of groups who will be meeting the judges when they are in the city. Deaflinks Staffordshire assistant manager Laura Thirwell said: “We are to perform in front of the judges and are thrilled to be doing so. Our group is called The Silent Choir, as a tribute to our patron Rachel Shenton’s The Silent Child short film. We use sign language to perform popular songs and our group is made up of a wide range of ages. We perform the track ‘This is me’ from the Hollywood film The Greatest Showman. It is a song that really encapsulates the feeling of our group – that yes our members might be deaf, but we are human and just as capable as everyone else.”

For all media enquiries please contact  the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232671.