By Joshua Robinson –
New initiatives designed to boost West Yorkshire’s creative industries will be launched later in January, following investment from Mayor Tracy Brabin.
The £2.3 million support package, approved by leaders in July, aims to grow the sector as part of the region’s new ‘You Can Make It Here’ programme.
It includes business and skills training to support freelancers, help for creative businesses to increase their exports, and investment for venues to become more accessible to disabled artists and audiences.
The package includes £520,000 of funding from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport for the ‘Create Growth’ programme, to drive equity investment in creative industries businesses.
More opportunities for young people from disadvantaged groups to break down the barriers and secure employment in television and film production roles will also be introduced, through an extension of support for the Mayor’s Screen Diversity Programme, run by Screen Yorkshire.
This will help creative sector businesses to develop a more diverse pool of skilled people to take on the specialist roles needed across the region. The sector is booming and the number of creative job opportunities advertised in West Yorkshire grew three times faster than the national average last year.
The investment into these new initiatives cements the Mayor’s commitment to support freelancers that were excluded from receiving support during the pandemic, as well as her election pledge to deliver a ‘Creative New Deal’ for the region.
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Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin said: “Our creative industries and freelancers have had a rough ride over the last few years, so we’re stepping up to ensure they’re fully supported.”
“It’s an exciting time for culture in West Yorkshire and I want everyone to have the chance to unleash their potential.”
“Culture drives growth, and devolution has given us this incredible opportunity to build a stronger, brighter West Yorkshire that works for all.”
With the region’s ‘Years of Culture’ now in full swing and Leeds 2023 and Kirklees Year of Music inspiring thousands, the baton has been passed to Wakefield and Calderdale for 2024.
Leader of Wakefield Council, Cllr Denise Jeffery said: “This support package has come at a really important time as we gear up for Our Year – Wakefield District 2024, a huge 366-day programme of cultural and heritage activity.”
“We have some exciting events and activities lined up and this funding offers a real boost to our plans. It will provide support for local creative individuals and businesses, helping them to grow and take advantage of the opportunities Our Year will bring, as well as building quality employment opportunities for our residents into the future.”
Chief Executive Officer of The Piece Hall Trust, Nicky Chance-Thompson DL MBE said: “These new initiatives are timely and very welcome. There’s a great pool of untapped talent across the region which these programmes will help identify and provide opportunity to nurture. With West Yorkshire establishing itself as a creative hotspot, now’s the time to move up a gear in offering these skills to local people.”
West Yorkshire’s ‘Years of Culture’ campaign is a collaborative approach between the Mayor and the five district leaders to celebrate creativity in the region, building momentum for Bradford UK City of Culture 2025.