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New Grant To Help Region’s Festivals Bounce Back Safely

A new fund has today (17 March) been launched to help kickstart hugely important and much-loved festivals across the Tees Valley following the lifting of coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

The Festivals 2021 Recovery Grant will provide grant funding to established festival businesses, freelancers, and local councils to develop and deliver plans for the region’s festivals which are flexible and can change in line with the latest official guidance.

As the region looks to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic, a strong schedule of festivals from July to December will help support local businesses in some of the hardest hit sectors.

These annual events play an important role in bringing together communities and giving local people something to look forward to in these difficult times, and those from outside our region another reason to visit.

Applicants to the fund, launched as part of the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority’s £1million Recovery Programme for the Cultural Industries and Visitor Economy, can claim up to 20% of their budgets, with grants running from around £5,000 to £50,000.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “We have some fantastic festivals that take place each year across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool celebrating the best of our region. It would be a huge shame, not to mention a big blow for our businesses, if we had to lose out on these for a second year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Government’s roadmap to lifting restrictions suggests we’ll be in a position for these to go ahead but we still need to be prepared if the worst does happen and plans do change. This funding will help organisers, many of whom may have been badly hit by the pandemic themselves, plan for a number of eventualities to make sure they can go ahead.

“These festivals are vital to getting local people back into our towns and communities, spending their cash in our brilliant local businesses and encouraging people from further afield to do the same. But it’s just as important, especially to people’s mental health at this time, that we have the opportunity to come together and celebrate once again.”

Cllr Shane Moore, Tees Valley Combined Authority Cabinet Lead for Culture and Tourism, said: “The creative sector has been badly hit by the postponement of festivals and the closure of performance venues as a result of the pandemic, so I welcome this new grant initiative.

“Festivals play an important role in attracting visitors to the Tees Valley and this funding will hopefully give event organisers the confidence to press ahead with their planning so that they are ready to respond to the lifting of restrictions.”

The scheme comes after Mayor Houchen established a Task Force, chaired by ARC’s Chief Executive and Artistic Director Annabel Turpin, to support the recovery of the culture and tourism sectors across the region. Its most recent initiative was Tees Valley Young Creatives: Class of 2020, which is establishing a network of young creatives and supporting them with resources, events and expert guidance so they can gain employment and take advantage of opportunities in the creative sector.

Annabel Turpin said: “Every year our vibrant and varied schedule of festivals entertain people right across the region and bring in thousands of visitors. As we come out of lockdown and the past 12 months of hardship, we want to make sure we still have a brilliant festivals programme, but in a safe, responsible and innovative way.

“We have shown how adaptable our culture sector can be, and this funding will help our festival businesses to be prepared for any and every eventuality so they can continue to entertain and inspire no matter what the future holds.”

For more information or to apply, visit TeesValleyBusiness.com/Festivals