Wakefield Council set to approve £4 million for district's digital and creative sector

Wakefield Council is set to approve extra government cash for the district’s creative and digital sector.

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 1:14 pm
Wakefield's council chamber
Wakefield's council chamber

In 2019, Wakefield was successful in securing £4.38m from the DCMS Cultural Development Fund (CDF) grant scheme – the largest of just five national awards – to fund the district’s CDF programme.

Although CDF was initially a three-year programme, due to Covid-19, the programme has been extended and will now run until March 31, 2023.

In November 2020, the team successfully applied for a further £1.2m from the DCMS Capital Kickstart scheme, which will support the programme’s capital developments, to reflect the inevitable time and cost impact of Covid-19 on the projects.

This grant does not require any additional match funding or investment from the council and means that the programme has brought in a total of £5.58m direct investment to the district.

The CDF programme brings vital grant funded resources to drive growth across a sector which, whilst currently underrepresented in the district, offers the potential for accelerated growth in higher skilled job opportunities for local residents.

The programme is already delivering a range of accessible business support initiatives for the district’s creative and digital sector, ensuring businesses can thrive and grow and creating employment opportunities for local people, whilst also offering a platform to showcase local talent.

Up to date information on business support, webinars, Advance programme and other opportunities for the sector can be found on the Creative Wakefield website at www.creativewakefield.net

The development of new start-up and research and innovation space across the district will also support growth in the creative and digital sector, particularly amongst new and small businesses.

The repurposing of the former Wakefield Market Hall will create just one of these spaces - an exciting mix of creative business incubation space, alongside social and learning spaces for residents, supported by an independent food and beverage offer.

Coun Jacquie Speight, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: “We have a vibrant creative community in our district and this programme will help drive ambition, skill levels and opportunities for employment amongst local people, with a particular focus on providing opportunities for our most deprived communities.

“Nationally, creative industries is one of the highest growth sectors in the UK economy contributing £111.7billion to the UK in 2018 and locally, the sector has displayed accelerated growth over recent years, highlighting its potential to provide significant opportunities for high quality employment for local residents.

“At a time when new jobs are needed up and down the country due to the impact of the pandemic, we hope that by driving growth in this industry, we can create employment opportunities whilst also giving local businesses the chance to grow and prosper.”

A planning application has recently been submitted for the Market Hall scheme and it is hoped that the construction works will start towards the end of this year, ahead of the site reopening in Autumn 2022.

Members of Wakefield’s Cabinet are meeting virtually on Tuesday, March 16 at 10.30am to discuss the plans. The meeting can be watched live or later on the council’s website.