The full letter: Why Southpaw director Tom Poynter wants a new theatre for Tunbridge Wells

The full letter: Why Southpaw director Tom Poynter wants a new theatre for Tunbridge Wells

This week Tom Poynter, group managing director of Tunbridge Wells creative agency Southpaw, wrote to the Times to express his support for the council’s Civic Complex. Here is what he had to say:

It is the year 2025. Every digital device you have is now activated via your voice. You previously bought your energy from a top 6 corporate pirate but now you lease it from me as I produce it through natural sources like the sun from my garden in Langton Green, you pay for my energy services as well as your groceries via a crypto currency like Bitcoin, you charge all of your digital devices wirelessly as wires have now become extinct, your house has become so intelligent it knows who you are and when you arrive home the artificial intelligence has already warmed the house, pre heated the oven and started to run the bath for you.

I work in the business of advertising, known for telling great stories. All of my predictions may seem unbelievable but will probably happen by 2025. And how as a society are we going to get there? Via constant progression. By continuously pushing the boundaries of creativity and technology, by smart talents both young and old building new services, new industries and new environments all to hopefully make our lives that little bit easier and hopefully more interesting. Progressive minds create opportunity, creativity and wealth.

More than 90% of MPs polled in a recent survey by DOD’s agree that the UK creative industries are vitally important to the future of the UK’s economy, job creation and positive perceptions of Brand Britain. And it is easy to see why:

Our creative industries – which range from advertising to architecture, games, crafts to creativetech, music to theatre – are one of the under-sold growth stories of the UK economy.

These industries already account for more than £87bn a year of Gross Value Added, are growing at three times the UK average, and create jobs four times faster than the rest of the economy.

Almost 2m in the UK work in the creative industries, with the total number of creative jobs in the wider economy reaching 3.04m.

And at a time when the role of international trade in the UK’s post-Brexit future is rarely out of the headlines, it is good to be reminded that the UK generated £35.9bn in combined exports of creative services and goods in 2015.

The creative company I run in Tunbridge Wells is called Southpaw. We are owned by a $12bn turnover business in Japan and most of our clients are European or American. I employee 65 creatively talented people who come to work every day to drive change and inspire us with what is possible tomorrow. I can’t tell you how hard I have to fight to recruit local talent and disrupt them from getting the train to London every day. And once we have taken months to convince them to join us, I then have to work just as hard to retain them and prove that I can offer them just as great opportunities as a London based business.

My staff want to feel they live and work in a town that is progressive, gives them a chance to build their careers and to really enjoy a work life balance. The recent news regarding the derelict site on Mount Pleasant is a great start and I can’t tell you how important having a cinema in the town will be once plans are passed. Then we come onto the Civic Development site. I am a proud supporter of this proposal and can see the multiple benefits it will bring to the town and businesses like mine. It will attract greater talent, it will give us growth potential where we can build new services like a technology hub or be seen as a town famous for innovation, it will attract more people out of London and convince them they can get just as great if not greater opportunities than our capital city whose living costs are spiralling out of control.

The current breed, called the Millennials and the new breed titled the Linksters don’t care so much for long term employment centred in one location like many of us who have gone before. They want immersive and cultural experiences through their job and I feel it is our duty to provide the conditions for that. My biggest fear if the Civic development proposal is rejected is that this wonderful Royal town becomes a commuter hub and if that is the case, we might as well turn out the lights and move Southpaw to London.

There is a big decision to be made on the 6th of December and to put it simply, it is time to Thrive or Die.

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