WECA offers support to creative businesses throughout COVID-19

By Ben Carey on 28 May, 2020

The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) is offering extra support to the region’s creative businesses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The assistance, which is available for creative businesses that have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic, comes via the Creative Scale Up programme.

The scheme is currently providing online peer and mentoring support to help businesses respond to the unique challenges presented by the pandemic, with business resilience being a key topic for the first group of 16 companies.

The support package includes:

  • £6,000 grant to spend on mentoring
  • Dedicated peer support network facilitated by Gill Wildman (Watershed Business Development Advisor) and Mark Leaver (Department for International Trade Creative Industries Advisor)
  • Training tailored to the specific business development needs

One of the members of the first cohort, the artist Luke Jerram, explained how the adapted scheme is helping businesses like his in the current climate.

He said, “The Creative Scale Up programme is brilliant; in that it brings arts organisations together – people at a similar stage in their careers and company development – with an opportunity to share best practice and the problems that we’re facing.

“There’s a real sense that we are no longer working in isolation but somehow connected and on the same journey, and we are there to support one another. When the pandemic arrived, we quickly moved from talking about the growth of our companies to thinking about resilience, placing our companies in a kind of long-term holding pattern and how we might need to adapt to survive.

“It’s been amazing to have the support of mentors and the colleagues of the Creative Scale Up programme to share those problems and work through them collectively. It’s been really supportive. There’s a real sense of camaraderie and a sense of us advising one another within the group. It’s been brilliant, especially at a time like this, so I’d highly recommend other creative companies getting involved.”

The training scheme is guided by the participants and is able to respond to the current and emerging challenges they face due to COVID-19.

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said, “We rely on our world-renowned creative industries; not just for the amazing content and jobs they create, but for what they add to our sense of identity and for putting our region on the world stage. The firms that are on this programme will be our household names of the future and I want to make sure we help them through these unprecedented and challenging times so they can be part of our economic recovery and renewal.

“By building on the success of this scheme, more of our incredible creative firms can get the support they need.”

Creative businesses wishing to express an interest in joining the Creative Scale Up programme should email creativescaleup@westofengland-ca.gov.uk. The deadline to apply to be part of the next cohort is Friday 31st July.

For more information on the Creative Scale Up programme, please visit the WECA website.