The North East creative industries: unleashing the power and potential of creativity.

By Carol Bell OBE Strategic Engagement Lead – Creative England

First, an introduction. Creative England and the Creative Industries Federation are part of the Creative UK Group. Our purpose is to harness the power of the creative industries to build a fairer and more prosperous world. We champion, convene, support and invest in creative businesses and practitioners.

So why invest in the creative industries?

Before the pandemic the creative industries contributed £115.9bn in GVA and employed 2.1 million people.  The sector was growing at four times the rate of the UK economy as a whole.

The creative industries are one of the country’s greatest money-makers, supporting large swathes of the wider UK economy through their supply chains: when including this impact, the sector’s combined pre-pandemic economic footprint was £178 billion. For every £1 created by the creative industries in the North East, a further £2.50 was generated elsewhere in the local economy.

The Creative UK Group published research from Oxford Economics at the end of July this year which concluded that with the right investment, the sector could recover faster than the UK economy as a whole. It could grow by over 26% by 2025 and contribute £132.1 billion in GVA – over £28 billion more than in 2020, and more than the financial services, insurance and pension industries combined. In that same timeframe, it could create 300,000 new jobs – enough new jobs to employ the working-age population of Hartlepool and Middlesbrough twice over.

What are the opportunities for growth?

Growth sectors in the creative industries in the North East, you will not be surprised to hear, are IT and software (which includes video games). These were the least impacted by the pandemic, and over the medium term will drive overall growth prospects for the entire creative sector.

But there are also other areas to look out for. In the North of Tyne there are plans for designated Culture and Creative Zones.

Taking inspiration from other UK and international cities, these Culture and Creative Zones bring together the right mix of advice, guidance and expertise to work alongside our region’s creative and cultural businesses and organisations. Each Zone will be developed to reflect the challenges and opportunities of its locality – with local authorities and the sector working together to co-produce action plans for five-year pilot projects.

These Zones will deliver services to support the growth of the cultural and creative industries in the North of Tyne area. They may focus on sectors within the creative industries or clusters which will lead to business growth.

Other areas for potential growth include TV and film production. The BBC has announced it will make its biggest investment in the North East for decades as part of a new regional partnership. The BBC has committed to spending at least £25 million over the next five years across our region to fund network TV production and talent.

This will also have an impact on the wider creative sector, including businesses in supply chains, writers, musicians and those working in technical and production support, not to mention raising the profile of the region as an amazing visitor destination.

Finally, back to Creative England. We have money to spend to help creative and cultural sector businesses to grow, for which a huge thank you goes to North of Tyne Combined Authority for recognising the importance of the cultural and creative sector for our region. Over the next two years we will invest £2.65m in loans, equity and grants to help creative and cultural sector businesses  working across Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle to flourish.

In addition to this investment, we are also running a wraparound business support programme. We will be working with many partners including Creative Fuse, a project led by Newcastle University , which will play a key part in this new multi-million-pound fund. Wraparound business support will include free-to-access workshops and internships for those looking to apply for funding and for those who go on to secure investment from the programme.

Business support and investment will help to create a more resilient and sustainable future for the creative sector in a post-Covid-19 economy.

The programme we manage at Creative England will support the whole of the creative and cultural sector, from architects to actors, computer games specialists to craftspeople and designer makers. We are interested in supporting SMEs as well as those practicing as freelancers, like myself.  We also want to ensure that we maximise our investment. This is why we are offering a range of investment in the form of loans, equity and grants; we want to support creative businesses, so that when they succeed and pay our investment back, we will be able to support other creative businesses to grow in turn. In addition, we will also work with others such as investors, educational establishments and other business support organisations like ISN, to bring in additional support to enable creative sector businesses to grow and reach their full potential.

So, in the coming weeks and months we will be working with many partners to secure investment, from regional and national sources, to ensure that the amazing creative individuals in the North of Tyne reach their full potential.

Please check out details of the North of Tyne Culture and Creative Investment Programme here. I look forward to working with you.

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