In an effort to invigorate West Yorkshire’s creative sector, Mayor Tracy Brabin is set to launch new initiatives later this month, backed by a £2.3 million support package approved by leaders in July. The funding, a key component of the region’s ‘You Can Make It Here’ programme, aims to foster growth in the creative industries.

The comprehensive support package encompasses business and skills training for freelancers, assistance for creative businesses to enhance their exports, and funding for venues to enhance accessibility for disabled artists and audiences.

Crucially, the financial backing includes £520,000 from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport for the ‘Create Growth’ programme. This initiative focuses on driving equity investment in creative industry businesses, aiming to bolster the sector’s economic prospects.

Furthermore, there will be expanded opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to secure employment in television and film production roles. This extension of support is part of the Mayor’s Screen Diversity Programme, overseen by Screen Yorkshire, and seeks to break down barriers in the industry.

The Mayor’s commitment to supporting freelancers excluded from pandemic support and delivering a ‘Creative New Deal’ for the region is evident in this strategic investment into new initiatives. Tracy Brabin emphasized, “Our creative industries and freelancers have had a rough ride over the last few years, so we’re stepping up to ensure they’re fully supported.

“It’s an exciting time for culture in West Yorkshire and I want everyone to have the chance to unleash their potential.

“Culture drives growth, and devolution has given us this incredible opportunity to build a stronger, brighter West Yorkshire that works for all.”

The cultural landscape in West Yorkshire is currently thriving, with the region’s ‘Years of Culture’ in full swing. Leeds 2023 and Kirklees Year of Music have set the stage, and now the baton is passed to Wakefield and Calderdale for 2024.

Leader of Wakefield Council, Cllr Denise Jeffery said; “This support package has come at a really important time as we gear up for Our Year – Wakefield District 2024, a huge 366-day programme of cultural and heritage activity.

“We have some exciting events and activities lined up and this funding offers a real boost to our plans. It will provide support for local creative individuals and businesses, helping them to grow and take advantage of the opportunities Our Year will bring, as well as building quality employment opportunities for our residents into the future.”

Chief Executive Officer of The Piece Hall Trust, Nicky Chance-Thompson DL MBE said; “These new initiatives are timely and very welcome. There’s a great pool of untapped talent across the region which these programmes will help identify and provide opportunities to nurture. With West Yorkshire establishing itself as a creative hotspot, now’s the time to move up a gear in offering these skills to local people.”

West Yorkshire’s ‘Years of Culture’ campaign is a collaborative approach between the Mayor and the five district leaders to celebrate creativity in the region, building momentum for Bradford UK City of Culture 2025.