IN his Question & Answer session on GB News on Monday which was filmed in Darlington, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke about the importance of the cultural sector.

He called it a “powerhouse industry” which “employs millions”, and how it was part of our “soft power” because its output is the way we are seen by the rest of the world. Then he mentioned how, a year earlier, he had visited the new Northern Film and TV Studios which are part of the Northern School of Art in Hartlepool and have partly been funded by levelling up money.

Today, newspapers and websites of the North East are uniting to urge Mr Sunak’s Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, to support this “powerhouse industry” as it attempts to develop further in the North East. The Crown Works Studios project in Sunderland needs Government backing, ideally in March 6’s Budget, to create more than 8,000 more jobs.

The project has already raised £450m of private funding but now needs a boost from the Chancellor to get it over the line.

In return, the studios will give an annual boost to the regional economy of £336m and, just like Nissan, will develop a supply chain with tentacles spread far out from Sunderland.

Both Tyneside and Teesside, fuelled by their universities, have thriving digital and content creation sectors that would tap into the studios and, of course, it makes perfect sense for the college students of Hartlepool, who come from across the region and the country, to have somewhere on their doorstep to further their careers rather than having to leave to progress.

We’ve seen how the BBC’s move to Salford has been beneficial to the Manchester conurbation’s economy, as well as to the BBC itself, so now is the chance for the Government to play a part in replicating that success by supporting the Crown Works Studios in Sunderland so that it can become a major part of what the Prime Minister already sees as a “powerhouse industry”.