The West of England Economic Recovery Taskforce has joined the West of England Mayor in welcoming £1.57 bn Government funding for UK arts and heritage organisations.
Academy of Circus Arts and Physical Theatre (Circomedia), Bristol Music Trust (St George’s Bristol), Knowle West Media Centre, SS Great Britain Trust, Tobacco Factory Theatres, Holburne Museum, Bath Festivals, Theatre Royal Bath and House of Imagination are amongst those receiving support from the Arts Council Emergency Fund.
The taskforce, set up by the Mayor in response to coronavirus, has brought partners together to put in place measures to accelerate economic recovery and make sure the West of England speaks to Government with one voice.
The needs of arts and culture organisations have been high on the agenda of the taskforce and the Mayor has been calling for Government support to help the many organisations and freelance creatives that contribute to the region’s thriving creative and digital sector.
West of England Mayor Tim Bowles said:
“Arts and culture play a huge role in the life and the economy of the West of England employing over 9000 people in the region and contributing over £3bn to our economy.
“Many organisations have been able to access grants and business rate relief during the crisis but I’ve been calling on Government to give more support to this vitally important sector that still faces considerable uncertainty.
“This funding will be a lifeline to many theatres, music venues and museums in the region and help to create a platform from which we can begin to re-build so that our vibrant creative sector continues to thrive.
“I am delighted to be working with Arts Council England as we look to the future and welcome their continued support for the region which includes emergency funding announced for Circomedia, Bristol Music Trust, Knowle West Media Centre, SS Great Britain and Tobacco Factory Theatres.”
Dick Penny, taskforce member and Chair of West of England Cultural Strategy Group said:
“This national package of funding for arts and heritage organisations is a great relief for the creative sector and it is good to know that regional voices are being heard.
“The last few months have been extremely worrying for the huge number of people that work in our region’s innovative creative ecology. The West of England’s Economic Recovery Task Force has been listening to what the sector has been saying and joining up the ask for additional support from Government. Although there are still tough times ahead for the cultural sector this new funding is extremely welcome. Our focus now is on how we get the West of England open – stimulating inclusive cultural activity to animate neighbourhoods, towns and cities as we seek to rebuild public confidence and get our eco-system of freelance creatives and cultural organisations back to work.”
Extra support is available for creative businesses that have been impacted by Covid-19 through the West of England Combined Authority’s Creative Scale Up programme.
The scheme provides online peer and mentoring support to help businesses respond to the unique challenges presented by the pandemic. This includes: a £6,000 grant to spend on mentoring; dedicated peer support network; and training tailored to the specific business development needs.
Creative businesses wishing to express an interest in joining the Creative Scale Up programme should email email@example.com. The deadline to apply for the next cohort is 28 August.
There is also help through Creative Workforce for the Future offering a flexible and bespoke programme of professional development for companies and paid placements for young people.
This is a new programme funded by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and the European Social Fund (ESF) and led by the Bristol + Bath Creative R + D programme working with creative organisations across the region. This year it will provide professional development to around 40 SMEs in the West of England and placements for 12x 18-30 year olds from a Black, Asian Minority Ethnic origin and/or from a disadvantaged socio-economic background.