Investment for screen-industry body to support the growth of the West Midlands film, TV and games sector

Thursday 23rd of April 2020 02:20 PM

Create Central, the industry-led body set up in late 2019 has secured £2million of investment to deliver a programme of activities to help turbo charge the West Midlands film, TV and games sector. 

Create Central has been awarded £1million through the BFI’s National Cluster Growth Fund using National Lottery money to deliver a long term growth plan specifically to meet the needs of the West Midlands’ screen businesses. In addition, £500,000 investment has been confirmed by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and £500,000 from Tin Smart Social, a regional social enterprise.

The investment package will support the West Midlands local industrial strategy including a two-year programme developed by Create Central members to support the continued growth of the region’s screen sector which will be ever more important to the UK screen sector’s post Covid-19 recovery. The programme is heavily focused on the ‘future of media’, with innovation, digital infrastructure, immersive storytelling and digital employability programmes taking place amongst more traditional elements such as attracting film and TV production to the region and promoting the West Midlands screen sector on a global stage.

Leading industry professionals are backing the work of Create Central which has members including Peaky Blinders writer Steven Knight and Nativity film franchise founder, Debbie Isitt.  

Steven Knight said: “I joined Create Central to work with other business leaders from the screen sector to ensure that Birmingham and the wider region attracts new international production, supports homegrown talent and shouts about all the amazing things happening already in the West Midlands. This support from the BFI could not come at a better time for our industry.”

Debbie Isitt added: "In these extremely challenging times this is a very welcome and meaningful investment for our independent film, TV and games makers. Create Central has come up with an action plan based on our collective experience of working in the region with the aim of supporting film, TV and games production over the next two years and beyond.

“Many talented people work tirelessly and passionately in this region and the BFI has clearly signalled their belief in us. We need to use this opportunity to ensure that we are ready to bounce back with the amazing talent that our region has to offer and be part of the human storytelling and economic recovery that the whole world needs right now.

“There is much work to be done but this is a wonderful opportunity to build a regional screen industry that will be of national and global importance for years to come." 

Create Central works in close partnership with the WMCA, the three Local Enterprise Partnerships, West Midlands Growth Company, The Innovation Alliance for the West Midlands, West Midlands Combined Universities, WM5G and other public sector organisations.

Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, said: “This important BFI investment will help Create Central to deliver a dynamic programme of activities, especially at this challenging time for the screen sector.

“Create Central was established to improve the region’s film, TV and games industries, and this new funding will see it play a supportive role, focusing on boosting the resilience of the West Midlands screen industries and helping them to return to the growth they were generating prior to the coronavirus crisis.” 

Create Central is today launching its search for industry specialists to work with them over the coming months to develop and deliver its ambitious programme – these include a global head-hunter to secure production investment into the region, an innovation lead and specialists in skills and training as well as communications and content.

Ben Roberts, Chief Executive of the BFI said: “The West Midlands film, TV and games sector has an important role to play in contributing creatively and economically to the UK screen industry, as well to the West Midlands local industrial strategy. 

“We are pleased to be supporting Create Central with BFI National Lottery funding and see areas of business such as developing digital skills alongside film, television and digital production as crucial to the growth of the UK screen sector, creating jobs and new trading opportunities in the longer term.”

Founded just six months ago Create Central brings together nearly 30 of the region’s most successful TV, film, games and wider creative content business leaders who offer their time and experience to develop innovative approaches to turbo-charge the region’s creative content sector.

Chair of Create Central, Ed Shedd, said: “We established Create Central to provide energetic, collaborative leadership for our amazing creative content sector in the West Midlands. 

“We have built early momentum, developing a region wide Growth Plan, and have now secured our first round of funding to deliver an exciting programme of activity: developed by our industry, for our industry. We look forward to announcing the details, and working with local businesses, over the coming weeks, months and years ahead.”

Cllr Ian Brookfield, WMCA portfolio holder for economy and innovation and leader of Wolverhampton City Council, said: “The wide ranging and damaging impact of the virus is being felt across many parts of the West Midlands screen industry and at many levels. That is why I am heartened by this announcement of new funding received by Create Central.

“Our region is home to some outstanding creative and cultural talent, and this new support is a much-needed boost in this difficult time.”

To find out more about Create Central visit www.createcentraluk.com/

Caption: From the left, Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, Ed Shedd, Debbie Isitt, WMCA chief executive Deborah Cadman and Steven Knight.