Nicola Winstanley

#sotaaw The state of the creative workforce in Stoke-on-Trent

#sotaaw  The state of the creative workforce in Stoke-on-Trent

#sotaaw The state of the creative workforce in Stoke-on-Trent

Yesterday was the 22nd November, the first official Stoke-on-Trent Artist Census day which I organised to inform my residency at the Spode Works Studios in Stoke.

With limited promotion I relied on my own network of local artists to help promote the activity- which was to document each working hour in the day via social media using the hashtags #stokeartistatwork (as i have been using for the past month) or for short #sotaaw.

Very early in the day it became clear to me (and everyone else) that the take up and reach of this activity had been better than we expected. At first count this morning there are approximately 2500 related posts across Facebook, twitter, instagram and youtube. #sotaaw trended at the top for Stoke-on-Trent on Twitter nearly all day as well as making number 6 in the list of UK trends for that day.


So, what did we learn? Well, it’s fair to say it is early days, but thankfully the information is there now for perpetuity and for others to question debate and analyse into the future. My first impression however, was how much organisation, meetings and administration took up the hours of Stoke-on-Trent artists. Clearly there is a lot of infrastructural work going on to lay the foundations for further creative work.


Post by Jenny Harper

Secondly, there was an immediate value in being part of the bigger effort for the participants. This is one thing that during the residency I have thought about a lot- comparing a united workforce like the one that worked at Spode in it’s factory days to a dispersed creative workforce that exists in Stoke now. I certainly felt more motivated and powerful, feeling the creative cogs in the city turning.


I will be analysing the information we made in the coming months and will show you my findings, here and at the final exhibition in January. But please look at it yourself and draw your own conclusions, talk about it, write about it, make art about it (or more realistically write e-mails and have meetings about it). And continue using the hashtags if you want to.


screenshot from

I hope to organise the Census on a regular basis, Monthly, Quarterly? Yearly? It is yet to be decided. But until the dust settles, thank you. The energy of the creative work force in this city is blooming.

I’ve collated some of the posts into this storify, there will be many more to add. 

Nicola Winstanley

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