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Leader of Islington Council talks about new Creative Enterprise Zones

Above: Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Leader of Islington Council (photo portrait by Steve Bainbridge)

What is best practice for the design and regeneration of cultural districts in the UK? This will be discussed at our 'Innovation Cities' forum at Here East this September. Leader of Islington Council, Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, will be joining our cultural panel with the V&A, the London College of Fashion and Pilbrow & Partners. She will be speaking about Islington as one of three new Creative Enterprise Zones, recently announced by Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London.

Cllr Comer-Schwartz was first elected to Islington Council in 2013 to represent Junction ward, She became Deputy Leader in 2020 and has served on the council’s Executive for six years, most recently as Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families and prior to that as Executive Member for Community Development. Before joining the council’s Executive, Cllr Comer-Schwartz worked in the charity sector, including roles at Centre for Mental Health, Shelter and The Women’s Library.

New Enterprise Zones could help artists to put down roots in London, through affordable workspace. The Mayor of London's office states:

'The expansion of creative zones in London comes as a new report reveals they have recovered faster from the pandemic and performed better than London’s wider creative economy, while helping reverse the trend of artists being priced out of areas. Brent, Islington and Westminster are set to become the latest dedicated areas in the capital where artists and creatives are supported to put down roots at the heart of their communities through affordable workspaces and improved access to creative sector skills and employment. The Mayor also announced that nine projects across the zones will receive a share of £1.2m to make workplaces greener and more sustainable, benefiting more than 500 creative businesses.

'The new zones in Brent, Islington and Westminster will join Croydon, Haringey, Hounslow, Lambeth, Lewisham, Hackney and Tower Hamlets with London Legacy development Corporation, Hammersmith & Fulham, Ealing with Old Oak Park Royal Development Corporation, and Waltham Forest to fulfil the Mayor’s manifesto commitment of creating 12 zones. The new zones will receive a share of £210,000 to help support young Londoners to embark on creative careers through information and advice, work experience and practical training. The zones will also create new permanent, affordable artist studios and creative spaces in the community – supporting 200 businesses and creating 3,000 square metres of affordable workspace.

'The Mayor’s £1.2m Creative Enterprise Zone Sustainability Capital Grant fund will support creative businesses and workspaces across the zones to improve their energy efficiency and contribute to the Mayor's net zero target for 2030. The nine projects awarded funding will improve the energy efficiency of over 7,500 square metres of creative workspace, including improved insulation and a more energy efficient heating system for the new Creative Campus at Chiswick House and Gardens in Hounslow and give access to high quality materials that will make the new Sutherland Studios in Waltham Forest’s Blackhorse Lane zone a ‘best in class’ for retrofitting existing buildings to meet energy standards. The grant will also see a new energy efficient workspace created on the top floor of cultural organisation, Raw Materials in Brixton, supporting its membership of local artists and makers.

'The Mayor launched his Creative Enterprise Zones in 2018 and has invested £14.7m to help the areas support artists and creative businesses find permanent affordable space to work, provide support to new creative businesses and improve access to creative sector skills and employment. By 2026, the 12 zones will deliver 71,000 square metres of affordable creative workspace - the equivalent of 10 football pitches - support 800 creative businesses, deliver 500 jobs and help 5,000 young Londoners to enter the creative industries.'

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Leader of Islington Council, says:

“Islington is full of amazing creative and cultural organisations, and they play a vital role in making our borough great. Many of those organisations are in Archway and I’m delighted that this has been recognised by the Mayor of London in making it a Creative Enterprise Zone. This will allow us to invest in creative industries in Archway and to bring those experiences to people who don’t usually have access to them, supporting our mission to make Islington a more equal place.”


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