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Create Berwick brings £1.5m arts and culture investment to make town a “distinctive, must-see destination”

Byjule@julewilson.com

Jan 23, 2024

The five-year project, funded by the North of Tyne Combined Authority together with Northumberland County Council, announces funding for artists and creative businesses to grow and create jobs in the border town of Berwick.

Create Berwick, part of the North of Tyne Culture and Creative Zone (CCZ), has announced plans to make the town a “distinctive, must-see destination” as North of Tyne Mayor, Jamie Driscoll met with some of the town’s creatives.

The project brings together cultural organisations, creatives, artists, businesses, and residents to make Berwick – and its surrounding wards in north Northumberland – a beacon for culture and creativity.

Starting with a Creative Action Fund, up to £5,000 is on offer to artists, creative and businesses to run projects to develop skills, grow businesses, test new ideas and engage people in creative activity, and the deadline to apply is Wednesday 31 January.

During his visit, North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll visited Berwick Barracks, which will host workshops and training, and met with business owners along Bridge Street to hear how local artists and creatives are benefiting from the CCZ.

During the visit Mayor Driscoll said: “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, film makers – 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 is working with partners in the town and across north Northumberland to fund and invest in projects which:

• teach people new skills and enable them to enhance and hone their existing talents and skills, offering new pathways into employment in the cultural and creative sector
• attract visitors, tourists, artists, and makers from all over the world to Berwick
• create new opportunities for every person in Berwick to be creative and enjoy culture and heritage in the town
• increase the amount of physical space there is for artists, cultural collectives, and creative businesses, such as studios, exhibition spaces and co-working areas.
Projects in the pipeline include repurposing empty spaces on the high street to make community hubs and studios for creative people, working with students of Berwick Academy to set up a community radio station, and a partnership with Bridge400 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of The Old Bridge.
“With Create Berwick we are supporting culture and creativity to make Berwick a thriving town”, said Councillor Glen Sanderson, leader of Northumberland County Council and the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s cabinet member for Culture, Creative and Rural.

“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:
• Create Berwick, Northumberland – createberwick.co.uk
• Creative Central NCL, Newcastle upon Tyne – creativecentralncl.co.uk
• North Shields Cultural Quarter, North Tyneside – nscq.co.uk

The CCZs will provide an access point to support and encourage collaboration within the sector. This will ensure that no matter where in North of Tyne an independent artist, creative professional or business is located, they will have access to the networks and support that enable them to grow.

Berwick artist Chloë Smith, who has been involved with the project through its consultation stages, accompanied Mayor Driscoll on his visit. She said “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.”

Find out more and apply for the Creative Action Fund before 31 January on the Create Berwick website at createberwick.co.uk.