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Creative Estuary is a learning project.

The Cultural Development Fund (CDF) marks a new approach to cultural and creative investment, focusing on geographical location and the effect that strategic investment can have on economic growth and productivity. The fund has been designed to allow us to test, innovate and learn through doing, whilst delivering four key outcomes: unlock economic growth and productivity; strengthen local leadership; enhance creative skills and make places attractive to live, work and to visit.

As a pilot programme, we can take risks and try new approaches, test models and work with new partners. We will develop new approaches within the Creative Estuary project to enable cultural, community and commercial organisations to work more closely together, to re-imagine the Thames Estuary’s future and test and deliver the Thames Estuary Production Corridor’s ambitions and vision in concrete and sustainable ways.

To help us understand the impact of our programme, the strength of our partnerships and the legacy of the investment we have appointed Hatch Regeneris, along with PRD Director Chris Paddock, to undertake our Programme Evaluation. The team delivering this work for us include experts in evaluation of culture-led regeneration and economic development studies. They have led detailed formative and summative evaluations of major programmes including Hull UK City of Culture, national economic development evaluations for Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government and major regeneration programmes for the Greater London Authority. They bring detailed understanding of best practice evaluation methods, extensive experience of developing high quality research tools, and experience of working with delivery partners to gather high quality monitoring data to inform evaluation work.

They fully understand the potential of this programme to have a major catalytic impact and more strongly establish the Thames Estuary as a leading creative and cultural industries cluster at a national and international level. They are experts in cultural and creative sector led growth and bring broad ranging expertise in this policy area, from work on UK City of Culture, studying culture-led regeneration case studies for the Local Government Association, leading the development of Creative Enterprise Zone projects in London and undertaking numerous creative sector mapping and strategy studies across the UK.

Peer Learning 
Creative Estuary have been selected by the Department for Culture Media and Sport to lead the national CDF Peer Learning Network, offering us national profile, influence and opportunities to capture further learning. The network has a vital role to play in delivering robust evidence to support future Government investment in culture led growth. The national evaluation programme managed by Steer Economic Development will deliver robust data and we will collaborate fully at Programme level and through the network to ensure this is successful.

The network will connect practitioners, project managers, directors and research partners with responsibility for CDF evaluation to strengthen evaluation capability at a local level and to ensure, that by working together, the data collection and evaluation process at a national level is robust and delivers insight and evidence.

We will share our findings widely and join with other place-based networks such as the Great Place Scheme and Creative People and Places. We will actively seek out opportunities to contribute to the national debate around evidence and impact such as that being undertaken by the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre and The Centre for Cultural Value.