Creative industries in the West Midlands will benefit from a £1.2m boost from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Creative Industries Minister and Stourbridge MP, Margot James, launched the new Creative Scale Up programme alongside Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street at Dudley College today (Friday December 7).
The money will be used by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to build a network of support for creative businesses in the West Midlands and to link creative companies to investors. Specialist help will also be on hand to identify appropriate sources of finance through the British Business Bank.
Creative industries minister Margot James MP (centre, left) and Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street (centre, right) chat with students at Dudley College at the Creative Industries event
Mayor Andy Street said: "The creative and digital industries are hugely important to the West Midlands, contributing almost £4 billion to our economy.
"We know we have creative strengths in the region. More than 10,000 creative businesses are based here, and we’re working to support the rapid growth in this sector, with the ambition that the digital and creative industry will employ more than 100,000 people in the West Midlands by 2030.
"We want to continue the momentum we’ve built in recent months. This DCMS funding will allow us to provide dedicated support to our creative industries, match businesses with investors, and sustain the growth of this industry into 2030 and beyond."
The Creative Scale Up initiative was announced alongside a UK-wide injection of £14m for the Creative Careers Programme, which aims to attract a diverse range of talent for the industry.
Margot James MP said: "Millions of people around the world enjoy our world-class creative and cultural output every day and we want to stay as a frontrunner in these vibrant sectors.
"Our creative industries are a vital part of the economy, contributing over £100 billion to the economy so it is important we maintain the pipeline of talent. This package will take the sector from strength to strength by arming the next generation of creatives with the necessary skills and giving businesses in the sector the support they need to succeed."
Cllr Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council and WMCA portfolio holder for economic growth, said: "Building the creative sector is vital for the future of the region. Our creative industries are important not just in themselves, but also as a catalyst for innovation across different industries which contribute to our economy.
"We want to ensure we support our creative individuals and businesses, whose skills and talent will be an important factor as we look to shape the future economy of the West Midlands."
The funding has been welcomed by the West Midlands local enterprise partnerships, who have played an important role in setting out a creative industries strategy for the region.
Anita Bhalla OBE, board director for creative industries at the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, said: "We have seen significant growth in the West Midlands' creative sector, with some of the region’s companies growing their businesses and profiles to trade across the world.
"The region's creative industry includes, music, film and TV, design, advertising and video games — with the East and West Midlands making up 25% of the UK’s gaming workforce. These industries symbolise the creative global economy of the 21st century.
"To take full advantage of this fast growing sector, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport funding will enable us to strengthen our partnerships with colleges, schools and business to ensure that our young people have the right skills to take full advantage of the opportunities that the industry presents to them."
Ninder Johal, Black Country LEP board member, said: "The Black Country LEP is proud to be supporting this announcement this morning. We recognise the contribution that creative industries play and it is testament to Dudley College and their aspirations that this announcement was made in the heart of the Black Country.
"Supporting the skills agenda is a key part of our strategic economic plan and this is a great opportunity for the Black Country to be involved in, and supporting an increase in the diversity of the creative industry sector’s workforce."
Lowell Williams, chief executive officer at Dudley College of Technology, and chair of the Board of Dudley Academies Trust, said: "Dudley College of Technology is proud to be developing new talent across a range of disciplines including film and TV, fashion, games design and crafts.
"We recognise the huge contribution the creative industries play, not only in economic terms but in providing a rich, vibrant culture and we are keen to train the creatives of the future. The announcement today will help support the skills agenda and also provide a boost for entrepreneurs and small businesses who have the potential for growth."
The cash injection follows the publication of new figures which reveal the value of the creative industries to the UK is up from £94.8 billion in 2016 to £101.5 billion, growing at nearly twice the rate of the economy since 2010.