High House Production Park: a unique creative cluster

 9 February 2016

A key part of localism and devolution should be encouraging the growth of creative clusters. Here in Thurrock, High House Production Park is taking a pioneering role, showing how far-reaching a creative cluster can be.

Amanda Hall and Rosie Blackshaw in the Royal Opera House Bob and Tamar Manoukian Costume Centre
Amanda Hall and Rosie Blackshaw in the Royal Opera House Bob and Tamar Manoukian Costume Centre

It all started in 2010 with leading industry organisations developing bespoke new buildings on a 14-acre historic site next to the Thames, 25 minutes from central London:

  • Acme Studios, which has 39 studios and four work/live units.
  • Creative & Cultural Skills, whose world-class technical training and rehearsal facility The Backstage Centre is used by the international music, film and theatre industry. 
  • The Royal Opera House Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop, which has produced 100 sets for opera and ballets.

The site has been growing ever since, with the Royal Opera House’s Bob and Tamar Manoukian Costume Centre opening in 2015, providing a home for its historic collection, wardrobe and atelier.

A unique creative cluster

This creative cluster is about more than co-located buildings and businesses. It’s an industry partnership with a shared vision to mutually support the growth of the sector in the surrounding area.

We see our job as advancing the public understanding of the creative and cultural industries through park tours and engagement initiatives.

It’s an industry partnership with a shared vision to mutually support the growth of the sector in the surrounding area.

It is our belief that fewer projects, well-coordinated can go further. We put a value on a collaborative approach, enabling us to co-commission cultural education with our schools community.

We’ve rolled up our sleeves to provide industry standard training, careers advice and apprenticeships to meet sector skills shortages – from the Costume Centre's brand new degree in Costume Construction to The Backstage Centre giving young people the opportunity to work and train alongside commercial hirers.

Engaging industry on a local level

We know what works for our sector, which is why we’ve devised peer-to-peer business support programmes to increase sector resilience and sustainability.

Crucially, we sit at the table with our Local Enterprise Partnership, promoting the sector’s role in leading growth and place-making.

For me, a truly successful and sustainable creative nation is built on a firm foundation of locally engaged industry clusters that understand and act upon their wider leadership role.

This is what we’re passionate about at High House Production Park.


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