Somerset – a Big Hit at Glastonbury
One of the big hits at this weekend’s Glastonbury Festival will not only be its headlining acts – but Somerset itself.
Inward investment organisation Into Somerset says that every year, many of the 180,000 festival-goers have such a great time at Glastonbury that they look to move to Somerset permanently.
Interim CEO Rupert Cox says, “The festival is the catalyst for many of Somerset’s creative businesses. Musicians, artists, actors, designers and many more creatives enjoy Glastonbury so much, that they move here to start their own businesses and capture that unique creative spirit every day of the year.
“I have no doubt that many of the crowd cheering The Boss will, in future, be bosses of their own creative businesses in Somerset.”
Somerset’s creative sector is one of its key industries and its fastest-growing sector. It employs around 6,500 people – up 85% over the last few years.
It is dominated by small businesses – 98% are single-site, owner-managed companies, including web designers, artists, craftspeople, musicians, film-makers and more.
The industry is boosted by Somerset’s excellent broadband network, which has the best take-up in the West and one of the highest in the UK.
The sector is supported by groups such as Somerset ArtWorks, which runs the annual Somerset Arts Week, a co-ordinated countywide annual exhibition that generated £750,000 in direct sales in just two weeks for 750 artists in 2006.
Two theatre groups have recently moved to Somerset. Future musical theatre stars now pursue their West End dreams through professional training at The Academy Theatre, in Shepton Mallet, run by BAPA (Bristol Academy of Performing Arts), while national and international touring company Theatre Melange has just relocated from Sussex to Bilbrook in West Somerset.
Courses in creative arts and performing art courses are available through BAPA, Somerset College, Richard Huish College, Yeovil College, Strode College and Frome College, which has specialist Media Arts status.
More than 20,000 people relocate to Somerset each year – most from London and the South East – to find success in business along with a better quality of life. They enjoy its invigorating countryside, coast and clean air, short commute times, low stress and first-class schools.
Into Somerset is funded by the local authorities and chaired by Honor Chapman CBE, the first CEO of Think London, the Capital’s official foreign direct investment agency. Honor lives and farms in Somerset.
She says, “Into Somerset is an innovative project encouraging inward investment and promoting indigenous business growth with the message that Somerset offers a wonderful lifestyle and opportunities for business development.”