Berwick Receives £1.5m Investment for Arts and Culture Development

Last Updated on: 18th January 2024, 10:40 am

Berwick is on the cusp of a cultural transformation with a five-year project, jointly funded by the North of Tyne Combined Authority and Northumberland County Council. This program aims to empower artists and creative businesses in Berwick, fostering growth and job creation.

Create Berwick, part of the North of Tyne Culture and Creative Zone (CCZ) Programme, plans to transform the town into a ‘distinctive, must-see destination’. This was announced during North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll’s visit to Berwick, where he met with local creative talents.

The project aspires to unite cultural entities, creatives, artists, businesses, and residents to elevate Berwick and its surrounding North Northumberland areas into a centre for culture and creativity. It kicks off with the Creative Action Fund, which provides up to £5,000 for artists and businesses to undertake projects aimed at skill enhancement, business growth, and fostering creative engagement. The application deadline for this fund is set for Wednesday, 31 January.

Mayor Driscoll’s visit to the Berwick Barracks and Bridge Street businesses underscored the project’s importance. He stated: “We’ve invested £1.5 million to transform Berwick’s economy – that’s in addition to the £170,000 for the Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival. Writers, artists, actors, filmmakers – creatives of all kinds can directly grow their businesses with this long-term funding.

“Local artists get it; they know that culture is everything from guided relaxation sessions to watching a film about the speedway at Shielfield Park.

“We want year-round jobs in culture and tourism – organising festivals and staging events that don’t depend on summer weather. That means more secondary jobs – everything from shops and restaurants to joiners and accountants.”

Create Berwick collaborates with local and regional partners to support projects that teach new skills, refine existing talents, and offer new employment pathways in the cultural and creative sector. The goal is to attract global artists and visitors to Berwick, increase creative and cultural engagement, and expand facilities for artists and creative businesses.

Future projects include transforming vacant high street properties into community and creative spaces, setting up a Community Radio Station with Berwick Academy, and collaborating with Bridge400 for The Old Bridge’s 400th anniversary.

Councillor Glen Sanderson, the North of Tyne Combined Authority cabinet member for Culture, Creative and Rural and leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “With Create Berwick we are supporting culture and creativity to make Berwick a thriving town.

“We want a place where artists want to create, where people want to start businesses, where there are creative jobs for local people and where visitors come because they know they will have an unforgettable cultural experience.

“The Creative Action Fund is a fantastic opportunity for small businesses or freelance artists to access funding that can help them establish themselves or develop their work. It’s a chance for the creative people and businesses in Berwick to make 2024 their year!”

Create Berwick is one of three CCZs that have been awarded funding from the North of Tyne Combined Authority for five-year pilot projects, along with Creative Central NCL, Newcastle upon Tyne and North Shields Cultural Quarter, North Tyneside.

Berwick artist Chloë Smith, who has actively participated in the project’s consultation process, remarked: “Create Berwick could be transformative for the town.

“Berwick is full of artists who work locally, nationally, and internationally, and with the opportunities provided by Create Berwick like funding, training, networking and spaces, all of this talent could be used to great effect.

“I’ve seen first-hand through my own projects how the arts have a wide range of benefits including improvements to health and well-being, a reduction in social isolation and a strengthening of community. Through Create Berwick we can expand the creativity and culture here in our town, creating new opportunities for artists, residents and visitors.”

For further details and to apply for the Creative Action Fund, interested parties can visit www.createberwick.co.uk before the deadline on 31 January.

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