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Budget reaction – Crown Works Studios and Creative UK

The Chancellor’s green light for Sunderland’s Crown Works Studios has been welcomed in the North East this morning.

In terms of impact to the region, those behind it say it will be “transformational” for the local economy, putting it on a scale with Nissan’s investment in the 1980s.

“The backing for Sunderland’s Crown Works Studios is significant in ensuring that local industry,  talent and businesses have a place they can create global film and high-end TV content without having to relocate to other areas of the UK,” said David Parfitt, Chair of North East Screen and Academy Award winner.

“My generation had to leave the North East to pursue careers in the creative screen industries. Record investment in local talent from the North East Screen Industries Partnership and major UK broadcasters has started to produce substantial change, but this major investment in a large-scale studio development will take us to the next stage, supporting the incredible talent already working in the North East and bringing others home.”

Last year production in the North East was up 28% and North East Screen say it will “treble again” in 2024.

“With the UK screen industry worth an estimated £12.5 billion in 2023, and regional production already up 28%, to have backing for the Crown Works Studios will supercharge the North East in becoming an international production hotspot, where world class content for global audiences is made all year round,” added Alison Gwynn, Chief Executive of North East Screen.

“We have world-class locations, we have talented crew, we have indies winning commissions, and we have the support of all our local and combined authority partners to ensure our region is truly filming friendly. 

“Studio development will provide the infrastructure we really need to continue the trajectory, attracting major big-budget features, key suppliers and in the process, creating a broader range of opportunities for the people and businesses of the North East.” 

The studios are being developed by FulwellCain, a joint venture between global entertainment company Fulwell 73, Cain International and Sunderland City Council.

“I am delighted that today’s announcement has confirmed government support for the exciting Crown Works Studios project on Wearside,” said Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Sunderland.

“Over the generations, the city was defined by the hard work and ingenuity of those who worked in industries such as coalmining and shipbuilding. Now, our focus is on the future as these same qualities will allow Sunderland to take its place at the heart of filmmaking, one of the country’s leading cultural exports.

“For our award-winning film production graduates – a product of courses regarded as some of the best in the county – it is a chance to fulfil their potential while remaining in, and contributing to, the north-east.

“We look forward to working with the team behind Crown Works, and other partners as we develop the skilled workforce needed to maximise this outstanding opportunity.”

Creative UK’s CEO was also positive about the budget for the sector:

“[… it’s brilliant to see the Chancellor announce some positive news for the Cultural and Creative Industries during his speech in the House of Commons.

“We’re delighted to see support for independent film announced, in the shape of a new UK Independent Film Tax Credit for films with budgets up to £15m. 

“Scrapping the 80% VFX cap will make a real difference when it comes to incentivising UK production, and the increase in the rate of tax credit by 5% is a positive step forward.  

“We’re also pleased to see the tax relief for Orchestras, Theatre, Museums and Galleries made permanent. Non-touring theatre productions and museum/gallery exhibitions will benefit from a permanent relief rate of 40%. In addition to this, touring theatre productions and exhibitions, and all orchestra productions will also now benefit from a permanent relief rate of 45%.  

“Of course, the cut in National Insurance is welcome for creative freelancers – particularly as we are still in the midst of the cost-of-living crisis.  

“For the wider economy, it’s positive that we’ve seen generous support announced for other key growth sectors like clean energy, advanced manufacturing, digital tech, and life sciences. Now, we must keep pushing for equivalent strategic and substantial interventions for the creative and cultural sectors. 

“For us, this means committing to further investment to develop creative content and IP. It also means delivering the £270 million Arts Premium, as promised in the Conservative Party Manifesto in 2019, and committing to a full review of the investment landscape which will help catalyse more private finance into the sector.”

For wider reaction from the rest of the sector and news of levelling up funding award to… Canary Wharf, read here.

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