NEW figures have shown the huge success of a scheme to support young creatives on Teesside.

Tees Valley Young Creatives was established in March to help people network, collaborate and secure employment in response to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Many of those graduating with qualifications in the sector – everyone from performers and writers to technicians and artists – found themselves without work as creative and arts organisations and hospitality businesses were forced to close, leaving uncertainty and cutting opportunities for creative professionals.

Now, figures have revealed that 83 professionals have signed up to the scheme, with 34 finding direct employment thanks to the support, with 58 paid opportunities created through the scheme.

Kieran Barker, 21, studied at the Northern School of Art and found help through the programme. He said: “What Covid did was cut things right down, it merged everything, it caused stress for everyone. I never had experience of the creative industry outside of uni. It made it terrifying to go into professional work and know what to do next.

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“As soon as I joined TVYC, it gave me opportunity after opportunity and really started my career. This has given me the confidence to go for it. This has given me a confident platform to start on and get some financial security.

“Now I’ve had paid work at Middlesbrough Mela, and through the summer with The Big Summer Bash for ARC. I’ve just had a meeting about producing a show I’m working on. The networking events connect you and make you recognise there are others you can collaborate with on paid work. You grow creative contacts who become friends.”

Another member, Audrey, moved from London back to their home region because of the pandemic but the scheme helped them find their place here.

They said: “Where I was before had very little direction. I was feeling very adrift. I had no idea where I was going to be, or what I was going to do. I didn’t really know anyone and my applications were unsuccessful. Now Teesside makes sense to me. Now, doing this in this specific place feels right. I feel like I have a sense of direction. I feel grounded with the people that I’m doing it with as well.

“I’ve had professional work through TVYC, which is more than I ever expected. I struggled with being qualified but not having the experience for applications, so TVYC has done a lot for me.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “It’s inspiring and rewarding to hear that these talented graduates are being able to get work in jobs they are passionate about right here thanks to the Young Creatives Scheme.

“Teesside, Hartlepool and Darlington has a rich history of creativity with talented artists, actors, film directors and musicians calling our region home.

“We need to do all we can to nurture this talent across the board, working with our top-quality arts organisations such as ARC and schools like the Northern School of Art, to boost this growing sector.”

Cllr Shane Moore, TVCA Cabinet lead for Culture & Tourism, said: “The cultural sector took a massive hit with the onset of Covid and in order for it to rise again in the wake of the pandemic, it was vital to help support and protect our young creative talent.

“Thanks to this groundbreaking scheme it’s fantastic to see our young creatives being able to fight back, with confidence again for the future.”

The initiative was established after Mayor Houchen started a Task Force, chaired by ARC’s Chief Executive Annabel Turpin, to support the recovery of the culture and tourism sectors across the region.

It is funded by the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority’s £1million Recovery Programme for the Cultural Industries and Visitor Economy and is being administered by the arts centre.


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