Arts & Culture
Guest contributor: A new programme of prosperity
May 12, 2023
Words by Alison Gwynn
Chief executive at North East Screen
The region’s screen sector stands on the verge of huge growth thanks to the commitment of the area’s local and combined authorities, broadcaster partnerships and infrastructure. Here, Alison Gwynn, chief executive at North East Screen, which supports skills and talent development, business growth and helps attract large scale TV and film productions to the area, highlights the potential of the region’s changing landscape.
Up until two years ago, although the screen industry in the UK was in boom, only one per cent of content was made in the North East.
What that meant was that anyone who wanted to work in the sector – and who couldn’t get a job on the few productions filming in the region – had to leave the area.
As a result, we had a huge, missed opportunity with talent disappearing to work in the sector elsewhere, or giving up on their dreams and finding an alternative career.
This, thankfully, is changing.
A year-and-a-half ago, all 12 of the region’s local authorities created an ambitious collaboration – the North East Screen Industries Partnership (NESIP).
And what it means is, for the very first time, all local and combined authorities across the North East are working together, co-funding the infrastructure and support we need for the industry to survive and flourish.
Following this, a partnership with the BBC was confirmed and it made a commitment to spend at least £25 million on programmes over the next five years.
In the first year, that has resulted in 13 productions coming out of the region, from ‘Scarlett’s Driving School’ and ‘24/7 Pet Hospital’ to ‘James Arthur’s: Out of our Minds’ and ‘Robson Green’s Weekend Escapes’.
Nobody is doing us a favour by working with our region; we’ve got the talent, we’ve got the ideas and we’ve got brilliant people, so we are more than capable of making more and more programmes here.
Training is at the heart of it all, and the support of our local colleges and universities is key.
We are here to provide the next step, a bridge to industry, helping to attract people early as they choose their careers and letting them know this is now a viable industry.
We also want to support people crossing over from other industries and help them identify transferable skills.
The opportunity is now real for all those who have the desire, whether they are carpenters, joiners, electricians, accountants, make-up artists or just people who have a spark of a brilliant idea.
The opportunity to work in the creative sector in the North East has never been greater.
We’ve been brave with our ambition so far.
Now we need to make it happen.