A FORMER North East television studio is getting a new lease of life, as the UK’s first LGBT+ business and media centre.
Stonehills, at Shields Road, Pelaw, was previously used by the BBC but has been empty for a number of years.
But now, thanks to the support of Gateshead Council, it will become Pride Media Centre, offering a range of opportunities and support to the LGBT+ community as well as their allies.
The complex will be the home of Pride Community Network, a not-for-profit organisation and will become the new base for North East station, Pride World Radio which currently broadcasts online to around 125 countries and Pride Radio 89.2 fm, which broadcasts from studios at Newcastle’s Dance City.
And this will also be followed by the launch in 2019 of an online television station, Out and Proud TV.
The centre has a number of tv and radio studios and recording booths, along with 16 offices which will be available to fledgling businesses from both the LGBT+ community and their supporters.
The aim is for businesses to develop and be nurtured in the incubator hub, in a safe environment with support given to address any particular issues.
At the same time the centre will run a range of outreach programmes aimed at reaching isolated members of the LGBT+ community and deliver to them a range of relevant services.
Initially the management team are being seconded from Pride World Media, which is a multi-platform LGBT+ broadcaster, to help the venture get off the ground.
“This is a really exciting venture and we’re delighted to be able to run the first dedicated LGBT+ business and media centre is the UK, “ said Jonathan Morrell, chair of the Board of PCN and an award-winning TV broadcaster and journalist.
“There is a real opportunity here for us to do something very special and give the LGBT+ community the chance to turn their business ideas into a reality with the full support of a strong network of experts.
“We are extremely grateful to Gateshead Council for being so forward-thinking in allowing us to launch this unique venture here in the North East.”
Councillor John Adams added: “We’re delighted to welcome Pride Community Network to Gateshead, not only because they’re dynamic and ambitious but because they promote and embrace diversity.
“As a council this is something we are very much supportive of, and as a gay man it is important to me personally. The council is helping the company get started and we’re looking forward to seeing and hearing more from Pride Community Network in the new year.”
The not-for-profit organisation is now looking for support from businesses across the region which are interested in building their relationship with the LGBT+ community.
Work has already started on transforming the building, with a view to office accommodation being available to rent from early in 2019.