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  • Writer's pictureClaire Venus

Berwick upon Tweed’s Culture and Creative Zone (CCZ)


The culture and creative sector is a key part of Northumberland’s economy and is valued highly within the County.


The Council has attracted funding of £1.5m from the North of Tyne Combined Authority to develop an ambitious Culture and Creative Zone (CCZ) for Berwick upon Tweed to support the growth of the sector, to attract tourism and benefit local people.


Taking inspiration from other UK and international cities this pilot Zone will focus on supporting the existing and emerging clusters within Berwick and Northumberland through the progressive implementation of a range of tailored interventions that are authentic to the challenges and opportunities of that locality.




Overview:

Berwick-upon-Tweed has a range of assets and strengths that make it the ideal location for the Northumberland CCZ. It is a town with a significant cultural and creative capital of artists, makers, craftspeople, and heritage assets, as well as being the base for two Arts Council National Portfolio Organisations. It has a festival calendar with regional, national, and international visibility that includes literature; film and media arts; and food.


The CCZ is an opportunity to coordinate and scale up Berwick’s many cultural and creative assets and activities, creating significant impact and meaningful growth of the sector. It also offers the opportunity to build on and amplify the impacts of planned strategic investments in the town, including the Borderlands Growth Deal and developments of The Maltings Theatre, Cinema and Arts Centre and Berwick Barracks.

Berwick CCZ will deliver:


  • A 2027 vision for Berwick delivering transformational change


  • A focal point for strategic coordination and collaboration, bringing together the wide range of existing and planned cultural and creative projects and activities


  • Co-designed complementary and new cultural programmes


  • Providing the relevant training and advice to ensure the sector develops and grows, supporting workspace provision, facilities and resources


  • Improved and coordinated visibility of Berwick’s cultural and creative offer



Whilst the Zone will benefit people, businesses, and communities across the whole of the Berwick area, its physical location will be in the Town Centre.


The aim is to create a continuous flow of people and creative activity within Berwick’s town walls, between the Barracks and the Maltings, two of Berwick’s most prominent and high-profile cultural assets.


Berwick’s Culture and Creative Zone (CCZ) will be an inspiring and thriving working environment for creative people, a must-see destination for visitors, and a vital local asset shared by all of Berwick’s residents.


A highly visible focal point for the culture and creative sector, the CCZ will create jobs, generate investment in cultural and creative people and businesses, and support more people to make a career in the creative industries, helping to attract and retain talent in the local area.


We want to ensure Berwick CCZ is a truly grass-roots led project, designed to meet the needs of Berwick’s current and future creative practitioners, as well as its communities and visitors. The first year of delivery (2022/23) will focus on project and programme development, based on a series of work packages agreed upon through consultation with key stakeholders.


The needs, challenges and opportunities facing Berwick’s cultural and creative sector have been identified via consultations, focus groups, and workshops with key organisations and stakeholders from the sector, as well as local creative businesses and freelancers. They told us they would like the CCZ to offer:

  1. Workspace - accessible, affordable, communal workspaces that enable artists to collaborate, network, share ideas and support one another.

  2. Shared facilities and resources - including maker space, as well as spaces that can be used for rehearsal and performance, exhibitions, retail, meetings, and workshops. Also includes shared access to equipment, such as woodworking, metalworking, printing facilities, cutting tables, kilns, and easels.

  3. Business support – tailored to the specific needs of people in the cultural and creative sector, such as help with audience engagement and development. One-to-one support from a specialist who can make connections to people, funding, networks and resources, alongside digital resources to deliver general support on a larger and wider scale.

  4. Skills development – creating more opportunities for local people to participate in arts and creative education in Berwick through increased FE and HE provision, as well as workshops, classes and short courses, and access to mentors and role models to support business and career development.

  5. A grass-roots approach that involves local people at every stage of CCZ development and emphasises the quality-of-life and wellbeing improvements it can deliver for them. Enable this by creating a prominent and accessible shop front for cultural and creative activities that reaches out to the wider community.

  6. Communication and profile raising – increase the visibility of Berwick’s cultural and creative activity and talents to build the town’s reputation as a cultural destination, and raise the profile of individual artists to local, national, and international audiences.

The first year of the project will be largely developmental, in which we will focus on establishing awareness and building a strong foundation for the CCZ, by delivering activities that create visibility and incentivise engagement.



The development and delivery of the CCZ will be overseen by a newly appointed CCZ Project Manager, who will be responsible for leading the development of CCZ programmes and activities within five work packages:


• WP1: Workspace and Place

• WP2: Business Support

• WP3: Skills Development

• WP4: Profile Raising

• WP5: Community and Audiences


Other posts include a Creative Champion who will be front-facing and lead particularly on business support and skills development work packages.


The aim is to provide freelancers, micro businesses and SMEs with advice, support, and training to help them to generate an income from creative content and understand the basics of running a business. This will be delivered via a combination of facilitating access to the wide range of general and sector specific support that is already available in the North East; commissioning the development of tailored and targeted training.


The CCZ will support young people and local people interested in developing a career in the cultural and creative sector to develop the skills and experience needed to get a job or work as a freelancer. Activities to achieve this include working with FE and HE providers to improve access to creative courses via online and outreach provision; developing short workshops and taster courses delivered locally, to encourage young people to progress into full-time FE / HE courses; working with schools to develop work experience programmes with local cultural and creative organisations; and providing young people and early-stage artists with access to mentors.




A Community Programme Officer, will plan and manage outreach work, volunteer programmes and community exhibitions; ensuring that programmes complement and add value to existing provision and activity. The creation of a forum / sounding board or Berwick Culture Network could be established for the long-term future development of the CCZ, which will include young people to ensure they have a role and voice in developing CCZ plans.


Watch this space for further updates and how to get in touch with the team.




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