AN organisation which was set up to support the North-East's creative industries has helped provide more than 730 jobs and safeguard at least 530 posts since its inception nine years ago.

The Cultural Business Venture (CBV) has invested more than £5m in companies of all varieties, supported more than 800 businesses and aided the creation of more than 600 ventures.

Funding and business advice from CBV and its partner organisation The Prince's Trust has helped elevate aspiring entrepreneurs - including fashion designer Scott Henshall, from Hartlepool - on to the international stage.

The project - funded by Arts Council North-East, regional development agency One North- East and the European Regional Development Fund - was set up in 1999 to support business startups, growth and achievement.

However, CBV comes to a close at the end of this month, but its achievements have been hailed as a "massive success".

Mark Robinson, executive director of Arts Council North- East, said the CBV had played an important role during what has been a crucial time for the region's creative economy.

Speaking at a celebration event of CBV's achievements at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Arts, in Gateshead, he said: "During this period, the face of the North-East has changed. In 1999, this building had a completely different role. The stunning building next door, The Sage, was not there.

"It has been a defining period for the region, and one we are proud to have been part of, supporting people and their businesses at really key stages in their development."

Mr Robinson said that businesses, ranging from musicians to animators and architects to artists, had all benefited from the project.

Through the scheme, as well as capital and start-up costs, CBV also covers costs of office fit-outs or improvements, marketing and promoting costs including websites, logos and branding.

Jonathan Martin, creative industries development officer for Arts Council North-East, said the impact of CBV had been massive.

"There is a rich and diverse range of creative talent in the North-East," he said. "This kind of scheme is vital in encouraging entrepreneurship and supporting and nurturing creative businesses in our region."