Stoke-on-Trent has made the shortlist to be a creative hub for Channel 4. The national broadcaster has named Stoke-on-Trent on its shortlist to be one of two creative hubs– where television makers for major national and international programmes will be based.
Oscar-winning film maker Rachel Shenton, who is a member of the city’s bid team, says the shortlisting recognises Stoke-on-Trent’s creativity and innovation, and the ambition of people to get the job done.Rachel, who cast, shot and produced her Academy Award-winning short film The Silent Child in the city, said: “This is fantastic news for Stoke-on-Trent. I’ve given my full backing to the bid and am thrilled that Channel 4 has recognised our creativity, passion and capabilities.
“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.”
Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise partnership chairman David Frost CBE said: “Being shortlisted as a Channel 4 creative hub is a vote of confidence in Stoke-on-Trent and the wider Staffordshire area.
“Stoke-on-Trent is a creative and innovative city with a superb art and design heritage, vibrant culture and high ambitions for the future. This announcement will attract national and international interest and is a wonderful opportunity to get the message across that this is a great area in which to live, work and invest.”
Stoke-on-Trent will now join other shortlisted cities in making presentations to Channel 4 in June. The organisation will then make its final decision on 1 October.
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. In the broadcaster’s brochure on the changes, it says the creative hubs will be home to programme-commissioning editors responsible for some of its biggest shows, who will oversee ‘significant spend’. 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 City Council deputy leader Abi Brown said: “We are delighted to have made the shortlist. If we go on to be successful, this will result in new, highly skilled jobs, and multi-million pound investment. It yet again shows Stoke-on-Trent not only has the ability to compete with other cities but is also a serious and significant national player.
“We know that our city has a compelling case. We have an outstanding geographical location. We have highly skilled local graduates, from two universities that have first class facilities for creative people to grow their talents. We have a significant number of independent TV and digital companies within easy reach of the city.
“The shortlisting continues our momentum that we are a confident and forward-looking city. It builds on our success of being shortlisted for the UK City of Culture 2021, in being considered by Heathrow Airport to be one of its national logistics hubs, and in securing HS2 services that will further transform our infrastructure.”
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. When the city’s bid was first submitted on May 10 it was met with such a groundswell of support that the hashtag trended nationally in the top 10 on Twitter – the only bidding city to have galvanised such a response on submission day.
Councillor Janine Bridges, cabinet member for education and economy, said: “Our city is on the up and Channel 4 will find huge support from a range of partners to establish a new home that will help them grow as a pioneering and strong voice for the UK.
“Bringing Channel 4 to Stoke-on-Trent would have a significant positive impact on the local economy, much more so than in other cities that have benefited from regeneration funding over a much longer period of time.
“We are in a great position, but we also know that we have to ensure our final pitch leaves the corporation with no doubts at all that Stoke-on-Trent is absolutely the right place to create a hub.”
Peter Rudge, chair of Platform and associate professor of motion picture industries at Staffordshire University, said: “Being shortlisted is great news and testament to the growing recognition that the city is a destination for innovative and exciting moving image production. Platform has just been named as one of Creative England’s top 50 leaders and innovators, along with cluster members, Carse and Waterman, Rachel Shenton and Enlighten – all Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire-based companies and individuals. This is a concrete example of the momentum that is now behind the moving image industry in the region.”
Staffordshire University deputy vice-chancellor Professor Martin Jones said: “It is fantastic news for the city to be shortlisted and recognises the wealth of creative and digital talent in our region.
“As a leading Digital University with strong industry links we are ideally placed to supply skilled and experienced graduates that an employer like Channel 4 would need.
“Stoke-on-Trent is a serious contender to be the home of the new Channel 4 hub and Staffordshire University will continue to support the bid whole-heartedly.”
The bid has cross-party support from the city’s MPs, as well as a host of celebrities and influential creative leaders.
Stoke-on-Trent South MP Jack Brereton said: “It is fantastic that Channel 4 has shortlisted our bid for a hub to be located in Stoke-on-Trent. “We have the creativity, talent and location that would make us the perfect home for a Channel 4 regional hub. Locating here would have a transformative impact on our city and I know that if we all come together we can win at the final stage.”
Stoke-on-Trent North MP Ruth Smeeth said: “This is brilliant news and an incredible achievement for everyone who has been involved with the campaign. Stoke-on-Trent is a city of talent and creativity, and I’m delighted that Channel 4 recognises that potential.
“Becoming the new home of Channel 4 would be a huge boost to our local economy, and today we are one step closer to making this a reality. Now we need to seal the deal and make sure this vision of a modern, creative city becomes a reality.”
Stoke-on-Trent Central MP Gareth Snell said: “This is brilliant news for our city, our region and the talented and innovative people who live here. Clearly Channel 4 has recognised the incredible opportunity that Stoke-on-Trent offers to them as a base for one of their new media hubs. To be shortlisted is fantastic, but now all our fingers are crossed that we can go all the way!”
Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce chief executive Sara Williams said: “Channel 4 coming to Stoke-on-Trent would be wonderful. It would raise aspirations in young people, put us at the centre of a new creative network (where we should be) and support the brilliant nascent sector we have in digital and creative media businesses. Our location, creativity, history and fabulous people should give Channel 4 the confidence to be brave and come to Stoke-on-Trent. They could make such a difference to all our lives by making us the beating heart of a new and exciting way of creating and delivering content for current and future media platforms that will impact on every single household.”