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Creative Improvement Districts

We're exploring a new place-based policy mechanism that could play an important role in supporting culture-led regeneration in a major UK city region.

Creative Improvement Districts hope to encourage the agglomeration of creative businesses, cultural organisations and their associated workforce in a defined geographical location to support the creative and culture sectors to thrive and revitalise struggling town and city urban areas.

In this new policy paper by Culture Commons, we:

  • explore the rise of cultural regeneration as a favoured mechanism for growth by the UK Government and local decision makers

  • revisit Greater Manchester Combined Authority's original CID plans of 2019

  • gather learnings from other recent regeneration schemes and programmes that have successfully incorporated the creative and cultural sectors

  • propose several ways that CIDs might go beyond economic growth paradigms to address local policy priorities and unlock community benefits for local people

  • draw all these strands together to introduce a series of light touch recommendations to inform the roll-out of existing and future CID programmes across the UK

We're beginning to think about an appropriate evaluation framework that could help capture and measure the full potential of a CID programme, which we hope to develop with partners in the coming months and years.

We've already shared this paper with key decision makers within the UK Government, devolved administrations, local and combined authorities and national sector bodies. We are pleased that our work on CIDs so far has been spotlighted by the Local Government Association in their recent 'Cornerstones of Culture' report on the relationship between local authorities and the cultural sectors. We hope our report will go on to inform the place-based work associated with the new ‘Sector Vision’ bing worked up by colleagues in the Creative Industries Council and UK Government.

If you or your organisation are interested in discussing this paper or have any questions, comments or recommendations of your own, please do get in touch with us at


This consultancy research was undertaken by Culture Commons as part of the ‘Cultural recovery, place and the pandemic – policy models for new localism and the new normal’ research project, a University of Manchester Faculty Research Recovery project, led by Dr Abigail Gilmore.

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