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Anita Bhalla discusses how the Creative sector brings benefits to everyone in the West Midlands

While the TV phenomenon starring the Shelby family has thrust Birmingham and the West Midlands into the global televisual spotlight over the last few years, the region’s creative industries have become one of Greater Birmingham and Solihull’s biggest success stories.

Creative thinking can spark our imagination when it comes to solving new challenges across different industries, while it also has a key role in helping meet the challenges our communities face every day. Mental health, physical wellbeing, education and community cohesion often benefit by embracing artistic, cultural and creative attitudes.

The huge impact the industry already has on the region combined with its exciting potential for further growth and collaboration with other sectors has made it one of GBSLEP’s key focuses, and something we will endeavour to support.

Almost 50,000 people across the nine local authority areas in the GBSLEP region are creatives, amounting to 5.6 per cent of the total workforce. The industry also generates £4.1 billion in GVA, almost nine per cent of the area’s total.

And while the statistics for our region’s creative and cultural offering are impressive enough, the sector provides additional intangible benefits, with the intrinsic value of creative thinking and expression encouraging innovation and collaboration in all walks of life and work.

We understand how important it is to continue to support our cultural offering in the region and we have therefore launched our Cultural Capacity Fund. Offered to cultural or creative organisations within the nine local authority areas in which we operate, it offers non-repayable grants of between £2,000 and £10,000.

The fund is designed to enable cultural organisations to move to the next level and undertake strategic planning, cultural collaboration, growth and profile raising, alongside bidding for funding and we are looking forward to announcing the successful applicants who will receive this fund in the coming weeks.

GBSLEP is working alongside neighbouring LEPs, from across the region and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to deliver a £1.3 million Creative Scale-Up Programme, a two-year scheme funded by central government with the aim of supporting up to 200 creative businesses across the region which have strong potential to grow.

A pilot with Film Birmingham has also been launched, with the aim of increasing film and TV production spend in the region from £11 million to £16.5 million per year. The additional support will improve the range and quality of its location services to film producers, increase promotional activities and target high profile productions including international streaming heavyweights such as Amazon, Netflix and Apple.

With events including the Commonwealth Games in 2022 on the horizon, and 5G technology unlocking new opportunities for content creators to work in different ways and produce ground-breaking productions, it is projected that there is potential to see the sector grow by up to 4,000 new businesses, creating 30,000 new jobs.

With a highly diverse talent pool and one of the youngest populations compared to major cities across Europe on the doorstep, businesses working in the industry have huge advantages when looking to expand their operations and produce world class work, whether it is in advertising, marketing, design, gaming, fashion, or film and performance.

The region’s creative network has been making huge strides in the last few years, and has endless potential to continue to put the region on the map as a forward-thinking, talent rich creative hub.

ENDS