Mayor Launches New Fund To Help Grow Tees Valley Festivals

Business & Invest | Published on: 24th January 2022

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has today (24 January) unveiled a new £1.6million fund to help festivals across the region grow and innovate.

Applications are now open for the Tees Valley Festivals Scale-Up Programme, which aims to support regionally distinctive, professionally delivered festivals to increase capacity, diversify, boost their resilience and connect them with new opportunities including sponsors and funding streams.

Designed for festivals with high growth potential, the programme will offer access to grant funding, bespoke business support and advice, networking and training opportunities, with the multi-year programme running from 2022 to 2026.

The launch comes following the successful £350,000 Festivals Recovery Fund, which helped 15 festivals go ahead in 2021 after lockdown restrictions were lifted.

For every £1 spent on the Festivals Recovery Fund a further £9 was pumped into the local economy, delivering a £2.8million to local businesses and supporting more than 56 full-time jobs – including those in supply chain businesses.

This is the latest initiative to spring out of the £20million Tees Valley Creative and Visitor Economies Growth Programme, developed by a specialist Task Force established by Mayor Houchen and chaired by ARC’s Chief Executive and Artistic Director Annabel Turpin. It provides sector-led advice and insight into the challenges and opportunities businesses in those sectors faced in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and helped the Mayor and Combined Authority develop its future plans to for investment in the creative and visitor economies.

Mayor Houchen said: “We’ve seen a brilliant result from our investment to make sure festivals could go ahead last year, giving them the security, continuity and support they needed to be staged and to adapt. Not only did the funding mean much loved festivals could go ahead as we came out of lockdown, it also supported local businesses, boosted our local economy and sustained dozens of good-quality, well-paid local jobs.

“To make sure some of our most unique and scalable festivals can reach their full potential, create more jobs and attract more people to spend in our towns and brilliant businesses in future, we need to now shift to long-term support.

“That’s exactly what this fund is aimed at doing, offering grants as well as wider support via our dedicated and experienced Tees Valley Business team. I’d urge all professional festivals, big or small, to check out this programme and see if it will help them to go on to bigger and better things.”

Councillor Shane Moore, Tees Valley Combined Authority Cabinet Lead for Culture & Tourism, said: “Festivals play an incredibly important role in attracting visitors to the Tees Valley and boosting local economies.

“The success last year of the Festivals Recovery Fund shows the importance of providing festivals with support so that they are able to continue their development going forward.”

Annabel Turpin said: “Our brilliant and diverse festivals help to bring people together, attract visitors and support scores of creative jobs right across our region. We know that with a little help over a number of years, many of them will be able to grow even more.

“Last year we supported them to go ahead via our recovery fund, but now we want to go further to foster this innovation, help our young creatives and back our hospitality and culture sectors. This fund will help these much-loved festivals in the medium-term, so they can add even more to our vibrant scene.”

For more information or to apply, visit The closing date for applications is 4 March 2022

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