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Mayor of Birmingham sets out support for region's arts, culture and heritage

WMCA's £15 million investment programme will help to improve rehearsal rooms, co-working offices and exhibition spaces

The new Mayor of the West Midlands, Richard Parker, has set out his vision for the region's creative and cultural sectors, pledging to help maximise their potential to improve people’s quality of life and boost economic growth.

Over the next two years the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), which is chaired by the Mayor, will invest £15 million to support the ambition and capacity of the sectors – which were among the hardest hit by successive Covid-19 lockdowns.

Last month saw the launch of the West Midlands Ownership Hub – a ground-breaking initiative to support the Mayor’s manifesto pledge to grow the number of co-operative and employee-owned businesses.

The hub will initially focus on cultural and creative sectors, offering freelancers, creatives, and businesses workshops and an ongoing support programme to move into these alternative business models that are proven to enhance productivity, prioritise the well-being of workers, and address the challenges of precarious work conditions.

The WMCA is working with Co-operatives UK and the Employee Ownership Association, supported by Power to Change.

Alongside the Ownership Hub, the WMCA’s £15 million investment will also provide grants that will unlock wider match funding to improve physical facilities such as rehearsal rooms, co-working offices and exhibition spaces, and support to help them innovate.

The Mayor has meanwhile pledged to continue existing work to protect and breathe new life into heritage buildings across the region.

A new ‘Activate’ programme will also launch later this summer, providing a series of early-stage creative skills training that aims to expand the pipeline of new talent and encourage craftspeople and technicians, such as electricians, carpenters, caterers and dressmakers, into the creative sector.

The Mayor said: “I see the West Midlands as the beating heart of the national creative economy and as our region’s creatives increasingly stand tall on the global stage, they should be able to rely on the public sector to champion them.

“That’s why over the next two years we will invest more than £15 million to support the ambition and capacity of the sectors through programmes of work designed to ignite the regional creative eco-system and re-animate our local towns and places, and to provide greater opportunity for everyone to feel the benefits of engaging with culture and creativity.

“We have set up the West Midlands Ownership Hub to promote co-operative and employee ownership. These business models will pave the way for a more sustainable future for workers and help address the challenges of precarious work conditions in these sectors, recognising the vital role those people play in shaping our identity and driving our economy forward.

“I am proud to have made a manifesto pledge to double the number of co-operatives in the West Midlands and the Ownership Hub is a crucial step towards fulfilling this promise.”


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