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Business & Economy

Creative agency sets Sail for future growth after £1500 Open North Foundation support

A creative design agency has received a £1500 grant to boost its future prospects.

Sail Creative has been backed by Open North Foundation to appoint a creative mentor to help shape its outlook.

Gateshead-based Sail Creative was founded four years ago by Mandy Barker, but has seen growth slow significantly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with big projects in the arts and culture sector slashed or suspended until next year and beyond.

Reacting to the grant success, Mandy said it has “made a huge difference” and thanked Open North Foundation.

She said: “Psychologically, knowing there is a supportive business community in the North East, is very comforting and reassuring, even if we cannot physically meet.

“My background is in design but four years ago I made the leap from working in an agency to establishing Sail Creative and we have built our client base.

“We are known for our conceptual thinking and storytelling, which connects us to the audiences we are targeting on behalf of our clients.

“Leading up to the pandemic, we saw solid growth and worked on a number of high-profile campaigns, one of which saw us win an international pitch process.

“However, this year, we have been stopped in our tracks, with clients in the arts and culture sector seeing huge cuts, so have started to explore other opportunities and markets.

“The Open North Foundation donation has fast-tracked our ability to appoint a well-known creative mentor who, we have no doubt, will help assist us with our strategic focus going forward.”

Open North Foundation’s support for Sail Creative follows similar cash and in-kind marketing support for South Shields-based Queen Street Fitness.

The not-for-profit business-led response to the pandemic, which is run by a board of directors, is primarily focused on calling upon businesses and individuals to pledge financial and in-kind support to rebuild the regional economy.

In most cases, grants will range from £1000 to £5000, subject to funding availability.

Richard Swart, chair of Open North Foundation, added: “We are delighted to provide a donation to Sail Creative and we are pleased it will be using the grant to gain access to mentoring support, which will help its long-term growth.

“We have had many pledges of financial and in-kind support, such as marketing, HR, legal and financial services, and we are leveraging this to the benefit of small to medium businesses trying to recover from the pandemic.

“We continue to gather pace and momentum and we urge as many companies as possible to provide assistance, no matter how small.”