Culture Secretary celebrates northern creativity as hundreds of UK firms get funding to help them grow

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer. Photo: UK Gov

Hundreds of creative businesses will benefit from more than £10 million of targeted support to attract investment and create jobs as part of the Government’s goal to grow the creative industries by £50 billion by 2030. 

It comes as Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer brings together more than 140 cultural and creative businesses across film, TV, fashion, music and video games at the WeCreate conference at Aviva Studios in Manchester, to celebrate the success of the creative industries across the North of England and discuss how government and the sectors can work together to maximise their potential even further.

Firms across Greater Manchester – such as Broaden Films and Scoop PR – have already benefited from the first round of the government’s Create Growth Programme. Today the Culture Secretary is doubling the areas covered by the programme, announcing six new areas that will receive a share of £10.9 million for targeted business support, bringing the total number of creative organisations expected to be supported by the programme to 1,800.

The expansion of the Create Growth Programme will see creative businesses across Nottinghamshire, Hull and East Yorkshire, West Midlands, West Yorkshire, Devon and Hertfordshire supported to access private investment and scale-up advice – to turn today’s start-up founders into tomorrow’s CEOs.

The Culture Secretary is also calling on grassroots music venues, recording studios, promoters and festivals to apply for grants of up to £40,000 to develop new revenue streams, make repairs and improvements, and enhance the live music experience for millions of gig-goers across the UK.

Addressing creative industry leaders in Manchester, Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer is expected to say: 

Today is about not only celebrating all the things that make our creative industries special, but looking ahead to the future and how we, together, can chart a course that keeps these crown jewels of our economy shining for years to come.

We’re already making progress towards the ambitious goals set out in our sector vision, unveiling millions in new funding to drive growth in our grassroots and scale ups and banging the drum for creative careers.

From 2010 to 2019, the creative industries grew more than one and a half times faster than the wider economy and in 2021 they generated £108 billion in economic value. In 2021, they employed 2.3 million people – a 49% increase since 2011. The Government has identified the creative industries as one of five priority sectors to deliver future growth and the Creative Industries Sector Vision set out an ambition to grow these sectors by £50 billion by 2030. 

As part of the work to reach this ambition, the WeCreate conference will include a panel discussion on how business and government can work together to maximise investment in the creative industries, as well as a discussion about the adoption of emerging tech in order to drive growth and the challenges and opportunities which AI brings to this. 

The conference will be attended by key organisations in the creative industries from across the North of England, including Wakefield Production Park, the Royal Armouries Museum and the Manchester Film Festival, as well as national organisations such as Pinewood Studios, Channel 4 and the British Fashion Council.

The Culture Secretary is launching a new round of the Supporting Grassroots Music Fund, which has been expanded to ensure grants reach more parts of the grassroots industry, including rehearsal and recording studios, promoters, festivals and venues hosting electronic music. The broader eligibility criteria reflects the wide range of spaces and skills that are needed to help musicians perform and thrive. 

Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, said: 

This investment by the UK Government and Arts Council England reaffirms our commitment to supporting this hugely important part of the music industry. People value the opportunity to develop and express their creativity, and the grassroots music sector excels at allowing communities to design and develop creative and cultural activity where they live.

We hope this new funding will continue to address the needs of the sector and empower it to carry on offering high-quality live music experiences for audiences across the country.

A pipeline of skills is key to industry growth, and the WeCreate conference comes at the beginning of this year’s Discover! Creative Careers Week, with digital resources and over 70 in-person and virtual events in more than 270 schools and colleges across the country to introduce the next generation of creatives to different sectors, job roles and career pathways. This builds on support from the Local Skills Improvement Fund – announced last week – to improve creative skills training, deliver new creative courses and invest in new facilities and equipment across West Yorkshire, Berkshire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire and London.

It will see Calderdale College in Halifax, West Yorkshire, receive £1.2 million to establish a state-of-the-art creative skills hub in Halifax, which will develop and deliver new digital courses covering the latest digital technologies being used across theatre, film, TV, music and video games. Meanwhile, North Hertfordshire College will receive £485,000 to develop courses that meet the skills needs of the film and production industries, and deliver industry-standard equipment for film and media projects.

Create Growth Programme

The Create Growth Programme, delivered by Innovate UK, was extended with new funding as part of the government’s vision for the creative industriesannounced earlier this summer, taking the fund’s total to £28.4 million. The funding will enable businesses to better monetise their ideas, access resources and attract private investment to scale up and maximise their potential. Businesses will be able to get access to relevant workshops and masterclasses as well as one-to-one mentoring with industry experts. The programme also provides support for hiring and scaling up and investment training programmes.

The six areas awarded funding today as part of the £10.9 million expansion of the Create Growth Programme are:

  • Nottinghamshire
  • Hull and East Yorkshire
  • West Midlands
  • West Yorkshire
  • Devon
  • Hertfordshire

The amount of funding each area will receive is not set and depends on the individual area’s business needs and the number of businesses that apply for grants and support. More details will become available as the programme progresses.

Since launching in 2022, the programme has funded support for businesses across six regions to help local companies like Broaden Films, a Manchester-based video production company, which has been able to host its own entertainment festival, start building a new sustainable studio and work with more clients as a result of the support. 

The six areas already participating in the Create Growth Programme are:

  • Greater Manchester
  • Leicestershire
  • West of England, and Cornwall and Isles of Scilly
  • East Anglia
  • North East
  • Kent and the South East

Supporting Grassroots Music Fund

England’s grassroots music industry can now apply for grants from the £5 million Supporting Grassroots Music Fund, managed by Arts Council England (ACE). Grants of up to £40,000, available until March 2025 and delivered through National Lottery Project Grants, will help recipients do things like improve lighting and sound equipment, pay for repairs, and produce more live streamed content to diversify their income and build new audiences.

Since ACE launched the original Supporting Grassroots Live Music Fund in 2019, more than £9 million has been invested in over 450 projects. For example, music venue Komedia in Bath received £44,000 to help improve their sound and lighting equipment, while The Smokehouse in Ipswich received £15,000 to help them book a more diverse range of artists, and offer local artists opportunities to play alongside established names.

More information about the Supporting Grassroots Music Fund can be found on the Arts Council website.

Creative skills 

The seven creative projects receiving a share of £165 million from the Local Skills Improvement Fund are being led by:

  • Sparsholt College, Hampshire
  • Hertford Regional College, Hertfordshire
  • North Hertfordshire College, Hertfordshire
  • Havant and South Downs College, Hampshire
  • Activate Learning, Berkshire
  • West Thames College, London
  • Calderdale College, West Yorkshire

Source: Department for Culture, Media and Sport and The Rt Hon Lucy Frazer KC MP


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