Croydon town centre is to be the heart of the borough’s new creative enterprise zone (CEZ), a cabinet report has revealed.
The area has already seen a boom in creative activity, with both individual creative entrepreneurs and organisations moving in to central Croydon, attracted by the borough’s package of support, and its investment in the arts and more affordable space.
Combined with the borough’s cultural heritage and its major regeneration, this influx of artists and cultural organisations has already created the perfect conditions for creative industries to flourish, the report claims.
In the last six months alone, several new studio spaces and venues have opened up in central Croydon including NEXUS, The Front Room, The Art House, Grafton Quarter, and Conditions, all of whom are partners in Croydon’s CEZ bid. Artist Monica Tolia ([pictured) is among the first group of artists in the new Conditions space, which offers studio space, and training and development support.
The cabinet report, to be considered at Monday’s council meeting (21 Jan), outlines how the council will build on these foundations to develop as a CEZ after successfully bidding to become one of just six across the capital.
On the strength of the borough’s proposal, the Mayor of London awarded Croydon a grant of £500,000 to enable the growth of arts through provision of space, skills and support, policy and community.
In addition the borough will benefit from training and development for new creative businesses, bringing the total investment to over £1m.
Each of London’s CEZ will have its own distinctive character, and Croydon won the funding for its ambitious programme to further the creative sector, including:
• Developing Croydon as a music city – a place that encourages and nurtures emerging talent, breaking down barriers to success in the music industry
• Launching a pioneering new cultural internship programme, offering young people paid work placements with leading national and local arts organisations
• Creating a subsidy scheme for under 25s looking for studio space, which will cover up to 40% of the cost
• Encouraging creative businesses to move to Croydon, through the introduction of business rate relief for creative start-ups and those relocating to Croydon
• Collating an online list of available properties for creative businesses, and launching a start-up incubator programme providing tailored business support.
“Croydon already has a rich cultural heritage and strong identity – the borough is renowned for its urban architecture; its fantastic collection of street art; and as the birthplace of music genres including dubstep and grime.
“We are now gaining a reputation as a borough that invests in and supports the arts, through initiatives like our cultural partnership fund and our investment in venues like the Fairfield Halls, and this is attracting more creative individuals and organisations to our borough.
“Our CEZ plans will ensure that culture continues to be at the heart of Croydon’s regeneration, putting us on the map as a hub for creative enterprise, which is good news for our economy and good news for our community.”
Councillor Oliver Lewis, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport