In My Opinion: Mark Gorman: You work in the creative industries, in Edinburgh?

ARE you working in the creative industries in Edinburgh?  Well, may I introduce you to Creative Edinburgh?

If you’re reading this, the chances are the answer to my opener is ‘yes’, because our membership includes the media, such as journalism, publishing, advertising, design, digital marketing, architecture, filmmaking and games designing. Plus photographers, freelance writers, fashion designers, theatre artists, dancers… The list is long.

We’ve been around for ever(ish), but two years ago a man with a vision, Jim Galloway, at City of Edinburgh Council, spotted the obvious. One of Europe’s most creative cities had no acknowledged creative purpose, from an economic perspective.  Given that he was a key player in the city’s economic development team and a key deliverer of its Economic Development Strategy, he set about sorting it.

The real truth of the matter is he took a call from a Brazilian delegation who wanted to meet the ‘head of creative industries in Edinburgh’ and at that time, there was no one person who could truly fit that bill.

That made Jim a man with a mission, he set out to find an answer and stumbled upon, the somewhat mothballed Creative Edinburgh.

In a massive fit of common sense, he persuaded his EconDev team to back him and breathe new (financial) life into the body and we reconstituted ourselves; funded from Jim’s budget, with support from Creative Scotland.

Game on.

Two years later, I find myself in the chair, flanked by two amazingly energetic and creative directors (sharing the role) – Janine Matheson and Lynsey Smith –  and a board and steering group, active and ripe for the challenge.

Not only that. Our membership has grown from the princely total of, ermm, none, to well over 800. We are awash with Twitterers and our stock appears to be pretty high.


We put on events that cut across the BS. People can talk, can make connections (I rather fondly call these ‘random collisions’) and can do business together.

The tech community (it’s massive in Edinburgh, in case you didn’t know) is as much a part of this city’s creative ecology as any other and they really ‘get it’.

So, we meet in cool hangouts; the newly-opened Creative Exchange in Leith, The TechCube, Summerhall, The Bongo Club, Brew Lab.

Our events regularly sell out and we’re talking to other cities about our philosophy and style of doing thing.

It’s the best creative membership organisation I’ve ever had the privilege to be associated with (and there have been a few) and I’m proud of it, my board and my team.

So, come on in; the water’s lovely.

Mark Gorman is an independent marketing consultant operating under the banner, ‘Think Hard’. He has over 25 years of experience in advertising, design, direct marketing, PR, professional writing (especially blogging), business mentoring, digital marketing and research. He was co-founder of the former advertising agency, 1576.