On 20 October 2020, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen launched a fund of more than £300,000 to help culture businesses adapt, innovate and diversify in the face of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Small and medium-sized businesses, sole traders and freelancers can apply for the ‘Cultural Development and Innovation Fund’ to help them thrive in response to the outbreak.

The fund is intended to support recovery for businesses in the culture sector in the area covered by Tees Valley Combined Authority, including Darlington, by enabling them to make devise business activity to diversify income streams, build resilience and safeguard jobs.

Applications could include developing new products, forging new partnerships, engaging with new markets or making use of new technologies to support growth in the culture sector.

Businesses focused on visual or performing arts, heritage, film and tv, music or literature are eligible to apply. Those with a turnover of more than £100,000 can apply for grants of up to £25,000; those with a turnover of less than £100,000 are eligible for grants of up to £10,000.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “I’m delighted to be able to announce this funding – the next part of our targeted support for some of the sectors most hit by coronavirus – backing our incredible cultural and creative businesses and individuals.

“I’d encourage anyone with a well-developed plan of how their business can develop to meet the challenges they face, thrive and grow to apply.”