Support for creative industries from £4.1 million Commonwealth Games legacy fund

A directory, listing support for freelancers in the region has been launched by the WMCA.

The West Midlands Creative Freelancer Support directory, is part of a new package of support for the £1.1 billion-a-year cultural and creative sectors and it lists more than 200 offers of support provided by 138 organisations, individuals or collectives.

These include mentoring, training and development, seminars, information sources, networks, advocacy, workspace and equipment provision, and funding opportunities.

The West Midlands’ creative and cultural sectors are a hugely important part of the region’s economy, directly employing around 25,000 people. But they were among the sectors hit hardest by the pandemic, with freelancers, who make up around one third of the workforce, among those most affected economically by successive lockdowns.

The WMCA’s Cultural Leadership Board commissioned the directory to provide an overall picture of the resources currently available to freelancers and to identify potential gaps or opportunities to provide even more support.

CLB members gathered with freelancers from across the region and leaders of sector organisations at Birmingham Open Media last week to discuss the findings and put forward their own ideas of what further help and support they require.

This support for freelancers is part of a £4.1 million package from the WMCA’s Commonwealth Games Legacy Enhancement Fund that will aid the ongoing recovery of the region’s cultural and creative sectors, which includes developing plans to drive engagement, investment, and skills development. Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, said:

“There are many thousands of local people who as freelancers make a huge contribution towards keeping our wonderfully rich and diverse cultural sector and creative industries going.

“They generate many benefits for our region and not just economically. Arts and culture can have an incredibly positive impact on the wellbeing of individuals and entire communities.

“The directory that the Cultural Leadership Board has commissioned is an important piece of work because we know freelancers can feel invisible, especially when it comes to the support they need to develop their skills and opportunities, and during times of crisis as we saw with the pandemic.

“This is just the beginning, and very soon we’ll be making more announcements about how £4.1 million from the Commonwealth Games Legacy Enhancement Fund, combined with the new partnerships we’re creating with national organisations such as Arts Council England, will deliver a significant investment into our cultural and creative organisations helping them to thrive in the months and years ahead.”

The West Midlands has one of the largest cultural and creative sectors outside of London. In addition to the economic value to the region, arts, culture and heritage deliver a number of other benefits linked to health and wellbeing, skills development, volunteering, pride of place, attractiveness of place for inward investment, and community cohesion. Support for the sector is also being strengthened thanks to the region’s ground-breaking devolution deal, agreed with Government in March.

This has paved the way for new direct partnerships with the likes of Arts Council England, Historic England, Sport England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the National Lottery Community Fund and Visit Britain to ensure more people have opportunities to take part in arts and heritage activities.

The West Midlands Creative Freelancer Support directory is part of the WMCA’s Cultural Advocacy Toolkit created in partnerships with its advisory groups and a range of partners to advocate for and promote the importance of culture across the region.


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