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Sector specific support

New business opportunties

The Creative Sector Growth Programme will support creative businesses and freelancers to reformulate their operating and financial models, explore new business opportunities and review business plans in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The programme is aimed at businesses and freelancers across all sectors of the creative industries and all ownership types, with a focus on improving business resilience and supporting recovery.

Applications for our Spring 2022 cohort are now closed.

The detail

How does the programme work?

Funded expertise

  • £3,000 - £6,000 of professional sector specific expertise (mentoring, coaching and/or consultancy).

Peer support

  • A dedicated Peer Support Programme, including a minimum of six facilitated peer group sessions. The facilitated peer sessions will bring cohorts of 10 businesses together regularly, to address shared challenges of recovery and building resilience whilst learning collectively from each other.


  • Access to workshops and training delivered by Watershed.

6+ months intensive support

  • Each business and freelancer on the programme will be part of a cohort receiving a minimum of six months intensive business support.

Am I eligible?

You are eligible to apply for this programme if:

  • You demonstrate ambition to grow and build resilience over the next 3 years.
  • You are a Creative Sector Business with fewer than 250 employees or a Freelancer with a Unique Tax Reference.
  • Creative Sector businesses & Freelancers are defined as those working in the sub-sectors
  • You agree to participate in the activities and workshops of the programme.
  • You are based in the West of England

Our delivery partners

The Creative Sector Growth programme is delivered by Watershed in collaboration with Upstarter and Mark Leaver Consulting. It is structured to establish the foundations of business management – for example, internal culture, financial management, talent attraction and development, business development – but within that framework will also concentrate on the key decision moments for growth.

The team will deliver an intensive programme that provides companies with both existing and new tools for growth. This model allows immediate practical and strategic application of tailored knowledge and techniques into creative business development.

The Watershed programme will be led by Gill Wildman and Mark Leaver, with support from Briony Phillips and Melissa Blackburn, and will include guest experts. Watershed is a Cultural cinema, and a centre for talent development and creative technology in Bristol.

Watershed logo

Our funding

The Creative Sector Growth Programme is funded by the West of England Recovery Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.