Hackney Wick and Fish Island sees huge increase in creative industries jobs


The London Made Me Programme saw creatives from across the zone open a pop-up shop on Regents Street

The number of people working in the creative industries in Hackney Wick and Fish Island has increased by more than 60% since a new Creative Enterprise Zone was established, according to a new report.

The zone is part of a Mayor of London initiative to help artists and creative businesses start-up and grow in designated areas across London, with support provided for permanent affordable space and boosting employment in the creative industries. 

At a time when London is experiencing a reduction in the number of creative jobs and businesses, Hackney Wick and Fish Island's (HWFI) Creative Enterprise Zone is seeing a significant rise, with nearly all sectors in these industries experiencing an increase in jobs and businesses year-on-year, even during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

HWFI was established as a Creative Enterprise Zone in 2018, following a bid from Hackney and Tower Hamlets councils, alongside the London Legacy Development Corporation and local stakeholders. It came about through a mutual desire to support the world renowned reputation for creativity and a community of artists that already existed in the area, but was at risk of being pushed out due to rapid development. 

The HWFI Creative Enterprise Zone has seen 1,500sq m of community events space delivered since then, with 80 businesses receiving direct support and nine ‘Space maker’ grants, totalling £100,000, delivered to help organisations improve their workspace and purchase new equipment. 

Leaders of the Creative Enterprise Zones also played vital advocacy and promotional roles in protecting and securing space through new development models. In the context of rising land prices, this was key to securing the first Creative Land Trust workspace in London as part of the Hackney Wick Central Masterplan, which provides affordable creative workspace. The Creative Enterprise Zone also complemented Hackney Council’s Wick Workspaces project, which sought to transform Council-owned assets into creative workspace, including the Old Baths and the Trowbridge Centre.

Training and skills programmes have also benefited businesses within the Creative Enterprise Zone, including the Wick Together programme, which made funding available for four organisations to bring forward creative skills, engagement and training programmes.

This enabled sustainable fashion business Yodomo to provide support for 10 creatives to convert their skills and expertise to online courses or other digital content, meeting the demand for creative activities and revenue streams during and beyond Covid-19 lockdown, which received Good Growth funding from the Mayor of London too.

Founder Sophie Rochester said: “As an organisation, we are now better connected to the creative community at Hackney Wick and we are now looking to  grow Yodomo’s work in the zone working Hackney Community Development Trust on a sustainable young makers programme.”

Alongside this, the recently completed Creative Enterprise Zone Skills Programme offered 60 local people training and 30 mentorship places, to help them access opportunities in the creative economy. This programme was made available through the Creative Enterprise Zone programme to leverage external funding to benefit residents across both Hackney and Tower Hamlets. 

The Wick Freelance initiative provided peer-to-peer business support for creative  freelancers to build a supportive network and create space for strategic problem-solving - and a Public Realm Framework has been commissioned for the area to help build a new wayfinding, public realm and green infrastructure plan for Hackney Wick and Fish Island.

Councillor Abdul Wahid, Lead Member for Jobs, Skills and Growth at Tower Hamlets Council, said:
"The HWFI Creative Enterprise Zone places creatives at the heart of the action and I’m delighted to see that this report shows that there has been a considerable boost to creative sector jobs and permanent affordable workspace through the programme. 

“From the pandemic to the cost-of-living crisis, our business owners have and still are facing challenging times, and I know that the support they have received from the HWFI Creative Enterprise Zone is invaluable to them. I look forward to progressing the learnings from this report and continuing to help our creative communities thrive.”

Councillor Chris Kennedy, Cabinet Member for Health, Adult Social Care, Voluntary Sector and Culture, at Hackney Council, said:

"Since the establishment of the zone, we have tackled challenges with a broad range of local stakeholders, utilising the growth in the area to foster an inclusive economy providing more opportunities for more people. 

"This impact report shows that the area has made great progress towards confirming its status as the premier location in London for creative and cultural industries. We hope to continue to push for more residents to benefit from this growth and access the exciting opportunities the area’s economy has to offer."

Posted on Tuesday 19th September 2023