West Briton column 27 June 2013

A rich seam of creativity runs through the long years of Cornwall’s past. From the Cornish speaking monks penning Arthurian tales at Penryn’s Glasney College, to Truro’s pioneering composer Joseph Antonio Emidy, through to St Ives’ fisherman-painter Andrew Wallis, Cornwall based writers, musicians and artists have done much to enrich our cultural heritage.

In the twenty first century creative people in Cornwall continue to make an outstanding contribution to our cultural life and increasingly, to our economy.

The creative economy across the South West is now worth more than £1 billion and employs more than ninety four thousand people. In Truro and Falmouth alone the variety and scale of creative enterprise is dazzling, from sector leading graphic designers, to pioneering conceptual artists and their support teams, to digital games pioneers. First class institutions, like the Truro Cathedral, the Hall for Cornwall, the Royal Cornwall Museum, Cornwall Maritime Museum and Falmouth Poly and Art Gallery are catalysts for all this innovation, inspiring and supporting creative endeavour.

I am pleased that the Government is doing all it can to support this vibrant part of our local economy. New beneficial tax arrangements for the film industry have made a real difference, and we are seeing Cornish scripts, Cornish set designs and Cornish locations appearing more and more in films both large and small. The blockbuster film “Summer in February”, currently being screened in cinemas across the UK, was shot in locations across Cornwall, including Holywell Bay in my constituency.

Crucially Ministers have recently enabled Falmouth to gain full University status. This new status, following on from £100 million of investment over the past ten years, will help the newly embodied Falmouth University to build on its successes. What successes those have been- the ever increasing range of high quality courses on offer over recent years has provided a wealth of opportunities to creatively minded people of all ages, and of all backgrounds. These courses have helped produce thousands of extremely talented creative professionals. Many of these talented individuals hail from Cornwall, and many stay on in the Duchy after their studies, setting up creative businesses and creating local jobs. These links between the university and the local economy are getting even stronger, with the opening last year of Tremough’s Academy for Innovation and Research, and the Innovation Centre. Graduates and undergraduates work at the Academy and Centre with local businesses, using their creativity to help create even more employment opportunities. These two projects aim to support nearly two hundred local companies by 2015, generating £18 million for the local economy and creating over a hundred new jobs.

As the Government continues to rebalance UK economy away from over-dependence on financial services concerned in the South East, it is Cornwall, and its vibrant creative renaissance, that is increasingly at the forefront of growth. Just as the arts have the potential to bring meaning, colour and understanding to the lives of individuals, they have the potential to refresh and revitalize our national economy.

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