Working with Newcastle Council, artists, practitioners in collaboration with Crystallised, we were briefed to create a design and marketing framework that contributes to cultural place-making in and around Clayton Street. Previously CCZ, Creative Central NCL exists to support artists, creatives, cultural practitioners and venues to be recognised as a cornerstone of the cultural landscape of the city.

The project offers support, opportunities, collaboration and funding whilst acknowledging the value, community and change that the sector and its people bring to the region.

“Too often artists and creatives are undervalued. I’m in no doubt about the huge value they bring to our communities and our economy. “You can’t construct culture – it must grow organically – we’re just giving it the right conditions in which to grow.” Mayor Jamie Driscoll.

When commissioning a creative partner – it had to be about a partnership beyond a traditional branding brief. It had to co-informed, recognisable and credible yet accessible. Music to our ears.

Good people make good places

Creative Central NCL is a project led by artists and creative businesses, facilitated by NCL City Council with a £1.7m initiative. To reach a shared vision, we had to first focus on sense of place, community and collective ownership, creating a movement to allow individuals, venues and businesses to connect. Workshops, consultations, an artist steering group and insight informed our approaches to the creative approach.

Embedding a sense of place & community 

This couldn’t be a commission in isolation, it had to embed collaboration, integrity, embrace the complexities of the sector and be informed. It had to embody the principles the zone was created to deliver – building from the bottom up, led by artists and creatives. It has to bridge strategic and organic—and be comfortable that organic is often unknown. Our process held space for the groups and was about being comfortable with trusting the process. That meant allowing for discussion, debate, and embracing complexities. We guided the client and advisory group along the way, using curiosity to create discussion and questions, using what we didn’t know as a North Star to guide ideas.

Through creative engagement, we defined a brief that ripped up the rule book. This wasn’t a traditional brand and marketing brief – it was one that had to be flexible, a blank canvas, a creative toolkit – able to be used by creatives, artists, venues and businesses who want to be part of shaping the project into something useful, valuable and ownable.

Democratising design and tools is both powerful and essential in place-making.

The emerging participation of local creatives and the support available is what will define the future of the zone, of the sector, of platforming venues and practitioners to help them be not only sustainable, but to thrive. 

What we delivered – naming, strategy, marketing framework and a visual identity toolkit isn’t what matters here, it’s how it can be distributed, how it will be used as a call to action, a call to progress, a call for community. A place-informed toolkit will enable this to be built upon. To platform the zone, the businesses, the people and the venues and supporting enhancing practice, skills, development and collaboration. Creative Central is now ready to embrace the new use, becoming a vibrant place to learn, work, connect and grow.

The growing story of a place becomes a story of its people. That’s the exciting bit. To find out more, keep an eye on This is just the beginning. 

“We worked with Sail and Crystallised to create the visual identity and framework for our place based economic development project focused on supporting the creative sector in Newcastle.”

The team worked with us to define the project and the vision, and most importantly, took the time to understand key stakeholders and embed them into the discovery and development phase for the project and its emerging identity.

Sail convened a series of artist and creative organisations engagement and consultation workshops which enabled an authentic sector voice to be at the heart of not only the brand and identity creation but also adding feedback, sector needs and ambitions the overall project design.

This inclusive and structured approach and detailed knowledge of our project resulted in us finding our name Creative Central NCL and a creative brief that was so well defined that when the visual options were presented they were all an excellent fit.

The design route we selected is perfect for Creative Central NCL, reflecting the project now, allowing room for playfulness, interaction and genuine sector ownership, along with space to grow and develop as the project changes over time.

The flexibility of the brand and assets that have been created feel not only rooted in the place (which was so important to the projects objectives) but also feel authentic to the sector. Much like the work we are undertaking with Creative Central NCL Sail have created an identity that goes far beyond a logo, it is a clearly defined framework that will continue to evolve over time but still remains distinctive and creative.

It has been a joy to collaborate and work with Sail Creative, their strategic and creative thinking, deft approach and ability to draw together the many varied and sometimes complex aspects of our project and wide range of stakeholders has been so impressive.

We are delighted in the results so far and look forward to continuing to work with the team as Creative Central NCL develops over the years.

Vikki Leaney, Economic Development Officer, Creative Central NCL Project Manager