By Nic Millington, CEO, Rural Media

It’s been quite a journey – three years in the making, but thanks to sustained support of Stronger Hereford, Herefordshire Council, and The Charity Bank in November 2023 Rural Media Charity (RMC) was delighted to complete purchase of Packers House, based in the centre of Hereford, and to put into action our vision to create a beacon of innovation and enterprise where creativity meets technology.

Provisionally called the Digital Culture Hub (DCH) the centre will offer bespoke opportunities for young people, communities, creative businesses & entrepreneurs to develop skills, a voice, and to play an active part in the social and economic development of Herefordshire and West Midlands.  A core mission is to nurture talent and support young people and creative start-ups to have sustainable careers and businesses in the creative industries, and the DCH will strive to achieve this through its facilities and bespoke programming.

Opening in March 2025, the DCH will mark Herefordshire out as a cultural leader in rural regeneration and social mobility. It will aggregate in a single, fully accessible, contemporary space the creative technologies, tools, and expertise to inspire and raise the skill levels of creative and cultural entrepreneurs, SMEs, students, public, private and VCSE sectors, enabling them to take advantage of the booming, post-Covid-19 digital economy.

The DCH will be structured around 5 skills and cultural development strands:

  •  Multi-level digital creative skills training (film, TV, audio, interactive, digital marketing & comms)
  • Cultural & creative business development, and entrepreneurship (incubator space – physical and remote; workshops; mentoring, accelerator programmes; leadership & governance; professional networks; investment and finance models)
  •  Broadcast and standard film & TV and audio facilities (post-production studios, meeting and creative collision spaces, remote conferencing and live streaming facilities and support, strategic partnerships and access to regional and national broadcasters and distributors)
  • Screen &exhibition unit to promote cultural, educational, and business opportunities and activities
  • Still and moving image exhibition space, and home to Herefordshire’s culture platform, The Shire

Through our architect, Greenleaf Architecture we are currently procuring a building company to undertake refurbishment which we will commence in August.  Research is underway to commission building design and to identify tech equipment and facilities.

We are delighted that Powerhouse has joined us and is shortly to take up residence in two Packers House ground floor units.  Already the co- location of another creative company is demonstrating the value of sharing knowledge, resources, spaces, and ideas.

We have employed a Data and Office Administrator who is establishing new data capture & analysis systems enabling us to better understand DCH beneficiaries and digital audiences & participants.  We will be creating two further posts: a Film and Media Technician who will maintain and increase access to new creative tech facilities; and a Business Development Manager who will co-design, market test, and promote annual creative skills training and events programmes.

Rural Media is currently recruiting new trustees  who have experience of building and facilities development and management, and who will form part of a DCH sub-group to oversee and attract further support and investment to this exciting new asset for Herefordshire and the region.