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Mayor Earmarks £4.5million To Boost Screen Industries

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen is backing the region’s TV and Film production industry with a proposed £4.5million boost after the BBC pledged to increase production and support for the sector across the North East.

In September last year, Mayor Houchen worked to secure a commitment from the BBC to invest £25million over the next five years to fund TV production and talent development in the creative sector.

To capitalise on the BBC’s announcement, the North East Screen Industries Partnership – made up of the North East’s combined and local authorities – agreed to invest £11.4million over the same five-year period to deliver a new Screen Industries Development Programme.

On Friday 28 January, the Mayor and Combined Authority Cabinet will now consider plans to award the funding to the programme. It aims to attract more inward investment and create good-quality, well paid jobs within the industry while developing, attracting and retaining talent in the sector.

The scheme would include the scaling-up of the region’s screen agency, Northern
Film and Media to deliver increased activity, alongside a production development and support fund, with further opportunities to develop businesses and skills that the sector needs to thrive.

Mayor Houchen previously provided a major boost to Teesside’s film and TV training and production facilities by supporting the development of the Northern School of Art’s Northern Film and TV Studios with £3.8million – creating the North East’s first and only dedicated large-scale film and TV studios.

Mayor Houchen said: “Ever since Ridley Scott filmed his first film ‘Boy and Bicycle’ in West Hartlepool and Seaton Carew our region has had a strong connection with film and TV production which has culminated in Hartlepool now being home to the only dedicated large-scale film and TV studios in the north east.

“This funding will allow us to develop and nurture the existing industry and help create the jobs of the future. We have to be proactive and invest now to make the most of what the BBC is doing, as well as to attract other production to our area. Ultimately, this will help upskill and create opportunities for the creatives in our region but also, vitally, those hands-on crew members or electricians, engineers and make-up artists that could be involved at every level of production.

“As we’ve seen with films like 1917, that used our region for filming locations, it will help put Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool on the map and raise our profile for other big-name projects and also in the public eye.”

“BBC’s announcement will provide a welcome shot in the arm for our TV and film industries – not just creatives, but everyone in the supply chain too. We’ve got the businesses, we’ve got the talent, we’ve got the infrastructure in our fantastic Northern Film and TV Studios, but we can’t rely on one organisation alone to drive the sector forward.”