Investing in Torbay’s Creative Industries


Torbay has been identified as a coastal area where investment in creative industries could be important to support positive and inclusive economic development throughout the year, written SIMON BEER.

It’s a welcome message, but the question is, what kind of support does he need?

Research published by the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Center (PEC) reveals that creative industry businesses – from graphic design to film – in Devon and Cornwall want to “invest in the skills and careers of local young people and support their ability to stay alive and working in the region”.

However, the lack of access to funding and the same level of national/local government support that creative industry businesses in ‘urban clusters’ receive is a major barrier.

As a boy from Torbay I am fortunate to now work both in marketing and in Torquay.

It took a while though, having first moved 300 miles to Bradford to get a media communications degree and then to Cambridgeshire to take my first marketing job.

At that time I wanted to stay in Torquay but there were simply no relevant courses, let alone jobs.

After a few years in the industry I found a role in Exeter, then after a few years I finally came back to the bay.

If you look closely enough, you’ll find a diverse collective of creative businesses and freelancers in Torbay, and I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and work with quite a few of them over the past 15 years.

In the bay are videographers, photographers, directors, 3D and virtual reality animators, augmented reality producers, drone pilots, graphic designers, web developers, search engine optimization specialists , social media experts, and even former Google employees, among many others.

Revenues from creative industries, especially digital services, have been growing for several years.

Since the Covid pandemic, more companies are now happy to hire remote companies, and therein lies a real opportunity for young people in the Bay.

Digital marketing offers a fantastic career without two days being the same. There are multiple career paths to explore, but the challenge is to teach these skills locally and create the jobs needed to sustain them.

It’s an area I’m passionate about and over the past decade my agency, Bigwave Marketing, has been involved in many projects aimed at championing careers in the creative industry.

This includes supporting networking events, providing training, teaching at universities and colleges, mentoring students, arranging internships, providing work experience, and managing educational programs. ‘learning.

We work with some amazing clients in the Bay, like Wild Planet Trust and TDA, and when we opened our Torquay office seven years ago we started to see more candidates applying locally.

We know the skills and the customer base are here, we just need to keep the people with those skills here.

Creatively, great things are happening in Torbay, and South Devon College supports entry into the industry through the Hi Tech and Digital Centre.

To maintain momentum, I believe there are four key areas where the bay needs support:

  • collaboration and networking opportunities for people in the creative industry through peer-to-peer networking events
  • encourage local businesses to engage with continuing education providers to ensure learning matches workplace requirements
  • improved signage of funding and government-led initiatives
  • improved access to infrastructure (offices/meeting spaces), ideally via a centralized creative hub.

It may not need major funding, there is already regeneration around us. Creating a niche for local creative talent or simply using existing space could be the solution.

There is also another missing piece of the puzzle.

There isn’t, in my mind, a central body that’s focused on bringing these kinds of Bay creatives together.

We need an organization to join the dots, champion local creatives, and get the Bay to collaborate.

There is a void waiting to be filled. Investors and organizations, please form an orderly queue…

Simon Beer is Director of Operations and Digital at Bigwave Marketing, a leading full-service creative marketing agency and one of the largest in the South West, working from three Devon-based offices in Torquay, Exeter and Plymouth. They provide innovative and cost-effective marketing, design and digital services and are both a Google Partner and a Facebook Marketing Partner. Their dedicated and passionate team of designers, developers and marketers work closely together to create dynamic marketing solutions tailored to your exact needs.


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