Mayor for the West Midlands, Andy Street, has announced that making £2.1m available for the region's creative and technology industries will be an integral part of his vision for the sector.
Speaking at the official launch today (Friday 8th September) of the national Creative Industries Toolkit at Birmingham City University the Mayor announced the formation of the West Midlands Screen Bureau.
The initiative seeks to galvanise the region’s film, TV and digital production sectors by increasing partnership working between industry leaders and production agencies across the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) area.
The national Creative Industries Toolkit, which is designed to showcase and stimulate regional creative economies, was launched by vice president of Facebook EMEA and Creative Industries Council chair, Nicola Mendelsohn CBE at today’s event which was co-hosted by the WMCA and Creative Industries Council.
During the event the Mayor presented delegates with an exclusive short film, produced to showcase the West Midlands’ strong track record in creative storytelling.
Peaky Blinders, Notes on Blindness, Girl With All The Gifts, The Call Up and Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger were among some of the productions set in the West Midlands that featured in the film.
The West Midlands Production Fund (WMPF) is to be finalised and re-opened later this year. Creative England is in final contract negotiations with Government to recycle the £2.1m legacy for reinvestment in digital media productions in the West Midlands.
Nicola Mendelsohn CBE, discussed with the audience the West Midlands’ range of creative institutions and businesses, Birmingham’s place as home to the largest tech and digital cluster outside London, and encouraged other cities and other regions to think about how they can grow their creative sectors too.
The Mayor, said: “The potential for the creative and digital industries in the West Midlands is vast.
"These high growth and future-facing sectors not only offer huge job potential but also drive innovation and support other important industries.
“We are working to attract inward investors at one end of the scale, while encouraging the creation and growth of new businesses at the other.
“The West Midlands Production Fund and Screen Bureau will play a key part in both of these efforts. By bringing together regional partners and industry leaders in the film, TV and digital production sectors, the West Midlands will have a much more powerful voice and a clearer direction.”
During the event, John Newbigin OBE, Creative England Chairman, discussed the impact of the WMPF and the themes of the Creative Industries Toolkit with a panel of industry experts including Joe Godwin, Director of BBC Birmingham and BBC Academy; Debbie Isitt, Writer and Film Producer; Anita Bhalla, Chair of Performances Birmingham; Steve Root, Vice President of Development Creative Services at Codemasters and Rosy Greenlees, CEO of Crafts Council.
The Toolkit showcases the successes of the cultural and creative industries and illustrates the huge untapped local resource they present.
Every corner of the UK has a creative sector with its own distinctive structure and personality and the Creative Industries Council urges Mayors of Combined Authorities to inspire their own authorities to move from a narrow view of culture to a broad, cross-cutting ‘place-based’ approach - ‘hardwiring’ cultural and creative industries into every aspect of local and regional policy making.
The WMPF has financially supported a number of hugely successful productions, including the The Girl With All The Gifts, starring Glenn Close and Paddy Considine; Jawbone, the first screenwriting project from star of This Is England ’86 Johnny Harris, and Spooks: The Greater Good, starring Game Of Thrones’ Kit Harrington. Other productions include The Marker, due to be released this month, which received its premiere at Edinburgh International Film Festival, winning a Michael Powell award.
The Creative Industries Toolkit is a resource for cities and regions that will be rolled out across the country over the coming year. The full toolkit is available on the CIC website.