Creative industry businesses in Greater Manchester can receive a timely boost to help their recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 with the return of an innovative programme that could help them to scale-up and grow.
With a vibrant community of more than 8,500 creative businesses, generating £1.4bn of economic growth annually, Greater Manchester boasts one of the UK’s leading creative clusters outside of London.
Businesses that have already benefited from the programme include Engage Hub, Peoples History Museum, Creative Tourist, Buffalo 7, Prospect Games and Beatstream Media.
However, the COVID-19 lockdown has created many challenges for the local industry, meaning there has never been a better time to receive advice and support from the Creative Scale-Up Programme, which was launched in January by the Growth Company and Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and fully funded by DCMS.
Gaps in growth and investment
The programme tackles gaps in investment and growth in the creative sector, while empowering creative businesses to realise their full growth potential, providing the training and tools necessary to take creative businesses to the next level.
It has been adapted to help businesses tackle the current challenges they are facing due to COVID-19, as well enabling them to position themselves as strongly as possible to move into the recovery phase and bounce back into growth.
One local business to have benefitted from this advice during the pandemic is Mustard Media, a European festivals and events accelerator. The company’s MD, Rob Masterson, said: “It’s been fantastic having a senior advisor available to update us individually and help us navigate the coronavirus crisis which has unfortunately had an adverse impact on the live music and festival industry.
“It’s been great having the comprehensive training modules with a range of tools needed to scale up. The breadth of the modules and the fact they’ve been available as webinars has been really helpful to educate the team and has allowed us to be flexible with attending during an uncertain period.
“We’re very much looking forward to applying the sales and marketing and IP knowledge to future innovation projects as we seek to steer the business at this time. We’ve had some very productive discussions with the department for international trade too, helping introduce us to new connections in the US. We hope to build upon these as we seek to expand the business once we get back into growth mode.”
Sam Whitear, Creative Scale-Up Programme project manager, said: “The creative industries in Greater Manchester have thrived in recent years, but there is no doubt that COVID-19 has seen a lot of projects come to a halt and left these businesses facing all-new and unexpected challenges.
“We launched Creative Scale-Up in January as a programme to help enable businesses to strengthen and sharpen up their skills, review their strategies and benefit from peer-to-peer learning, and all of these are even more important right now.
“All businesses will be needing to focus on their current challenges, but also planning for the growth they are aiming for when the world of work has returned to normality again.
“Creative Scale-Up adds further scale and depth to the services we are offering for the creative sector, including the relaunched Greater Connected programme, and crucially it supports Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s Build Back Better programme aimed at helping the region come back stronger after COVID-19.”
In line with the Government’s social distancing policies, all modules of the Creative Scale-Up programme will now be delivered virtually.
Businesses in the creative industries in Greater Manchester can sign up for the few remaining places by June 12 at businessgrowthhub.com/creative-scale-up-programme.