One of the sectors most affected by the pandemic is to get some extra support from a new scheme led by West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
Small social enterprises within the cultural and creative sector are being encouraged to apply for two grants of £30,000 to help them develop their own business models and then provide support for five other micro-sized enterprises.
The Cultural & Creative Social Enterprise project has a strong focus on tackling inequalities within the cultural sector, particularly around diverse leadership, as well as helping enterprises that work on a small, local level.
The pilot programme will support social enterprises based in the WMCA region. The scheme is open to enterprises that have a turnover of less than £250,000, have generated profit but employ no more than 15 full time staff members. Successful applicants will be able to access tailor-made training and mentoring provision to help them to grow.
The project has been developed with input from the WMCA Cultural Leadership Board (CLB) to test new approaches on helping the cultural and creative sectors which have been hit hard by lockdown. The CLB was formed to bring together local people from all backgrounds and representatives from cultural organisations to help support the sector.
Cllr Patrick Harley, WMCA portfolio lead for culture & digital and leader of Dudley Council, said: “The West Midlands has benefited from its vibrant creative and cultural sectors not just economically but through their important contributions to the wellbeing of our region.
“This programme will help nurture these sectors, which have suffered recently, by supporting smaller organisations to develop sustainable business models which can help them to survive and thrive.”
The programme is supported by the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP (GBSLEP), Black Country Consortium (LEP) and Arts Council England.
Kevin Davis, Black Country LEP board member and social enterprise & economic inclusion portfolio holder, said: “We are committed to developing our social economy, as a means of inclusive growth and are happy therefore, to join and co-fund with wider regional partners to nurture our cultural and creative sectors that have been impacted by the pandemic.”
Anita Bhalla, GBSLEP board director for creative and cultural, added: “Working with our regional partners, we are committed to creating inclusive economic growth through the creative and cultural industries.
“Social enterprises play an important role in job creation as well as improving the lives of people in their communities. We have a dedicated social enterprise advisor at the GBSLEP Growth Hub and our investment in this project is a reflection of GBSLEP’s strategic ambition of increasing the quality of life for all our residents.”
Cultural and creative social enterprises reinvest their profits to benefit communities and the programme will help them become more efficient and resilient, especially in the current climate.
Martin Sutherland, chair of WMCA’s CLB and chief executive of Coventry City of Culture Trust said: “This move will help boost the West Midlands creative and cultural sectors at a grassroots level and encourage social enterprises that have diversity at their heart. The West Midlands has an exceptional cultural and creative offer which enriches the health, wealth and happiness of its residents.”
No match funding is needed to apply for one the two grants and applications should be submitted by 1 March with interviews held early March. To apply or find out more visit the WMCA website