It’s an exciting time for the West of England’s creative industries, and this year there have already been important developments which will help further cement our global reputation as a leading creative cluster.
In January, I was thrilled to join Channel 4 at the opening of its new Creative Hub. I know that our talented, diverse and innovative workforce is a big factor in bringing such big names to our area. Last month also saw the BBC announce that a further 150 jobs will be moving to Bristol, primarily in its natural history unit which produces nature documentaries loved by audiences all over the world, and is a core part of our region’s production activity.
I want all our residents to benefit from the many opportunities being created in our thriving creative sector. The West of England Combined Authority is therefore making important investments to support residents develop skills to begin careers in this flourishing sector. For example, our new Creative Workforce for the Future programme is supporting small and medium sized creative companies to draw and develop talent from people from less advantaged backgrounds. Creative Workforce for the Future will be delivered by Combined Authority creative partners such as Watershed and Knowle West Media Centre and offer participants work experience placements and access to mentors and contacts within the industry.
Schemes like this will ensure that not only the thriving creative sector will benefit all residents, but also that our wealth of creative businesses, large and small, will be able to access the skills that they need. I want the world to know that the West of England welcomes talented people and businesses with open arms, and help them grow into the big names of the future.
As a centre for innovation, I also want the West of England’s many smaller innovative creative companies to have every opportunity to grow and expand, creating both jobs and enriching our lives with new films, games, music, fashion and much more. To support this, I recently launched the West of England Creative Scale-Up programme, funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. This will give creative businesses bespoke support to help them grow their business and become ready to take on investment.
Every time I enjoy a BBC nature documentary or an Aardman animated film, I feel proud to know that it was produced here in the West of England. But these are just the tip of the iceberg, and I am excited to think about the next global success story coming out of our region’s amazing and diverse creative sector.