Digital and Creative industries in Cumbria
Cumbria has a growing reputation as a hotbed for the digital and creative industries, with the County’s rich artistic heritage no doubt one of many reasons why this is the case.
It has become a firmly established film production destination with directors drawn to Cumbria’s stunning landscapes and architectural beauty. The County’s “filmography” is diverse and impressive stretching back to 1945 when romantic classic Brief Encounter was shot on location at Carnforth train station. Other highlights include The French Lieutenant's Woman (1980), cult comedy Withnail & I (1987), Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (1991), and Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later (2002). The Cumbrian landscape is the unbilled star of the Renee Zellweger movie Miss Potter (2007) while Lake Windermere and Carlisle train station feature heavily in Bollywood blockbuster Mr Bhatti on Chutti (2009). The station was recently used as a canvas for showcasing Homebase products and the Lakes continue to provide dramatic settings for soap operas such as Coronation Street.
Understandably many award-winning film companies have established in Cumbria, such as Brilliant Trees Media, Carlisle, who scooped a Royal Television Society award for Eddie Stobart documentary Kings of the Road; and Signal Films, Barrow, who won international acclaim for documentary Death in the Bay: The Cockle-Pickers' Story (2006). In 2008 University of Cumbria graduates won 22 Royal Television Society awards in drama and documentary, including Best Drama, demonstrating the institute’s commitment to becoming a world-class centre in the creative commercial field. The BBC, ITV (Border/Tyne Tees) and local success story CN Media Group, which owns newspapers and radio stations across Britain, also play a role in County’s creative sector, as do clusters of businesses involved in website development, marketing and graphic design. Cumbria’s artistic offer is also vast, ranging from the traditional watercolours of the Lake Artists Society to the contemporary offerings of Lanternhouse, Ulverston, and Art Gene, Barrow.
Invest in Cumbria recognises the importance of the digital and creative sector to the County’s economic growth and, after playing the lead role in securing improved broadband through Project Access in 2008, is now fully focused on securing Next Generation Access. Cumbria is one of five pilot areas for NGA, which Government says will deliver 2mbps broadband across Britain by 2015.