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“How interactive mapping has helped NESTA reach a wider audience”

Meeting the Need


The report and online map were published at the end of November 2010. The research has shown that London is the heart of the creative industries in Britain, dominating in almost all creative sectors, and particularly in the most intrinsically creative layers of the value chain for each sector. “The high level of geographical detail used in the mapping has allowed us to pin-point nine other creative hotspots across Britain,” says Olly. “The interactive map was vital in helping us raise the profile of the report. We managed to get a wide range of media interest and from top level policy advisers and MPs.”


The report was widely referred to by individuals on Twitter and individuals working in the sector were also very interested in the findings – using the map to get an accurate picture of the creative industries in their local area. “It was one of our most popular reports in 2010,” says Olly. We found that the sort of people interested in the report varied from policy advisers to people employed in the sector,” he says.


Future developments


The team at NESTA has already updated the report with data for Scotland and will continue to keep the current interactive report up to date. The exercise will be repeated later this year.


Other benefits are:


  1. NESTA used InstantAtlas to create a different output that has allowed users to access and manipulate the data themselves
  2. A wide range of users can now access local data and get a good understanding of creative industries at ward level
  3. The interactive map has helped NESTA attract interest in its reports from a number of influencers including local media
  4. NESTA has been able to distribute its findings in an accessible online format which has widened its reach











One of the projects NESTA has undertaken is to look at the role of creative industries in the UK. The importance of the UK’s creative industries becomes clear when you consider that the sector grew by an average of 5 per cent each year between 1997 and 2007. This compares to an average of 3 per cent for the whole of the economy over this period.


NESTA wanted to explore evidence that the UK’s creative industries support innovation and growth in other sectors of the economy. So it set up a two-year study with Birmingham and Cardiff Universities.


NESTA would usually prepare reports based on its findings and make them available as PDFs. However, Olly Arber, Head of Digital Media, NESTA explains that this time it wanted to use an online interactive report to present information about creative industries at a fine level of detail in each locality. “We often present reports that keep a lot of data hidden and that never gets shared. We realised that this was an opportunity to present the data in a different way,” he says.


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