On 13th October 2014, an event was held at the Pool Innovation Centre to examine what we perceive as the value of culture and Cornish identity. The seminar cum debate was arranged in the wake of the Cornish people being officially recognised as having ethnic minority status.

A panel of experts gave their thoughts on what they thought culture meant for Cornwall:

  • Jenefer Lowe (Maga – Cornish Language Partnership)
  • Cllr Bert Biscoe
  • Ross Williams (Cornwall Art Centre Trust)
  • Simon Tregoning (Classic Cottages and Local Enterprise Partnership)
  • Cllr Julian German (portfolio holder for economy and culture)

The event was chaired by CEO of Cornwall Chamber of Commerce Kim Conchie and supported by the Pool Innovation Centre and Roddas.

This event was not unique in discussing the topic. A session was held at the Cornish Gorsedh 6th September 2014 in Saltash called “Brand Kernow” and led by Ed Rowe (‘Kernow King’). There is also going to be a conference at Exeter University’s ESI (Penryn Campus) in Autumn 2014). The organiser of this event, Matthew Clarke, is also arranging a mini version of this session at the Cornwall Business Show on 19th March 2015.


This report is a summary of key discussion topics as collated by organiser Matthew Clarke and Kim Conchie on 29th October 2014.

A summary podcast was also produced on the evening itself


Cornwall needs to be perceived (for the benefit of many products and services) as distinctive in the way it works and its location. We need to look at more ways to promote the benefits of distinctiveness for our USP.


Storytelling is an essential part of business in creating a narrative for customers to engage with and buy into. Creating a narrative on a company website gives a context to your business values. A strong story gives reasons for the use of words such as ‘best’ and ‘proud’, for example. Stories are also a way of helping a community understand itself, examine challenges and be led towards possible outcomes. A story can talk about the strengths of the past and make them relevant to the future.


It was clear from the event that these two sectors rarely get an opportunity to sit in the same room and discuss challenges facing them. The right brained people can solve some issues more laterally. The creative sector can also benefit from the left brained logical business thinking. It was voiced that we need to do this more often.


Businesses should use the Cornish language when, and if, appropriate to their business. They should also have the opportunity to discover how the language can be used as a tool to distinctive branding. Efforts should be made to represent traditional Cornish culture and language as progressive.

As with regards to the use of terminology in the English language: care should be taken with how we refer to ourselves (eg: carefully consider how Cornwall is perceived when terms such as “down here” are used). We all know that language codes certain meanings without the full awareness of the speaker – see NLP etc. How many things do we say about Cornwall that either makes us seem less able and/or less distinctive?

Brand Cornwall has come up with the strapline of “Cornwall is the future”. We need to find ways of embodying this and communicating this and associated messages.


  • (re language): further discussion needed.
  • MC to use chamber messaging initially to make the language possibilities more apparent to the business community and plan a presentation at a forthcoming breakfast.
  • Work is starting to see if an ESF funded project can bring organisational change and better business practice to the creative sector.
  • KC to ask Ed Rowe about Brand Kernow.
  • Chamber to look at how we can use Chamber partners in Wales and elsewhere to bring best practice from other similar communities to Cornwall.
  • To seek advocates to setting up a Cornish embassy (kannasva) in London.
  • KC to clarify what devolution for Cornwall means.


Matthew Clarke has kept all the emailed feedback and produced this summary.

  • Culture and the story behind the product is incredibly important.
  • Cornish language: we like to intersperse words and understand the heritage importance however there is fine line between inclusion and exclusion where a language is concerned and we will be careful with that moving forward.
  • Story telling is not just of the past but conveying a story of an area. It develops context and pride.
  • Cornish Language presents a strong opportunity to add value to culture.
  • The Cornish language is a tool not a solution
  • The Cornish language helps convey a sense of place and history and suggest a story. However it isn’t just applicable to everything and has to be used as a marketing  tool in conjunction with a clear connection to the business ethos.
  • I don’t think the Cornish language is relevant to a contemporary ground breaking business or a contemporary art gallery. Because it creates an idea of the past and history not of the modern.
  • It is vitally important that we speak to people as if they are here and we do not for example speak of Cornwall as “down here” we try to immerse our customer in Cornwall as if they could be stood in say Padstow or St Ives.
  • There needs to be an increased opportunity for SMEs to take on board an enhanced understanding of cultural heritage by increasing the possibilities for cultural and new / existing businesses to collaborate more effectively.
  • Brand message around authenticity needs to be particularly strong.
  • We were pleased to have the opportunity to meet and talk to Mr Malcolm Bell and Councillor German, with whom these matters will be pursued separately.
  • For Cornwall to survive it has to become a ‘knowledge based economy’ outside of the cultural aspects we were also debating of the evening.
  • We must use our ability now having full broadband to attract good ‘high end technical’ work. That needs to be the top priority of all. Our cultural heritage of course is important which we all treasure but it doesn’t pay the bills.
  • It is important to celebrate the innovative and contemporary as well as the past to break down the idea that “Cornwall is behind the times.”
  • What I will take from the seminar is the fact that using “Cornwall” in your advertising is an important marketing tool.


This synopsis was edited 30th October 2014 by Matthew Clarke. It was compiled alongside Kim Conchie, who chaired the event.