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Source: City of Wakefield

​Businesses and individuals across the district working in the creative sector were invited to take part in Wakefield Council’s Creative Challenge 2020 this year.

The Creative Challenge was part of the Council’s response to supporting the creative and cultural sectors to overcome the difficulties and impact of coronavirus.

Wakefield Council invested over £50,000 in 16 creative individuals and cultural organisations to generate new work inspired by, and responding to, the coronavirus pandemic, providing 226 working days (1,672 hours) for creatives based in the wider Wakefield district.

These newly developed projects are now being delivered in communities across the district, and have already reached 20 ward areas, by providing opportunities for residents to be creative during these challenging times – helping to boost mood, wellbeing and building social connections whilst experiencing social distancing.

Stride Theatre received Creative Challenge 2020 funding to take their highly regarded and popular weekly theatre sessions online in order to reach families experiencing social isolation and in need of the wellbeing boost creative activities provide.

The feedback from parents was incredibly positive, with many noting that taking part had a significant impact on the young person’s mood and anxiety levels: “Stride has been a life saver during COVID, I can’t tell you how much we appreciate all the work that Stride put in. Stride has been the only social thing that she has been able to do… every Thursday she’s like a different girl, massively relaxed and happier.”

With many projects still to take place and direct participation restricted due to the pandemic, already over 250 local residents have taken part, with an online audience reach of over 11,000, which continues to grow.

A further £41,000 of Creative Challenge funding was invested into 10 projects for Heritage Open Days in September and the first WordFest (a month long celebration of words in partnership with Wakefield Libraries) in October. These additional projects provided a further 119 working days for creatives and delivered activities to over 1,000 participants both online and in person.

​Cllr Jacquie Speight, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: “We’re committed to supporting residents and helping them though this difficult time and that’s why these projects are so important, culture and creativity have a proven role to play in the wellbeing of individuals, helping to keep our spirits high and give us all something to look forward to in these difficult times.

Wakefield’s creative sector is one of its key assets and we want to help the businesses and individuals within it overcome this challenging time and emerge from the crisis stronger than ever. Supporting creative businesses to produce content to support resident wellbeing is a win-win for businesses and communities.

“I hope everyone has enjoyed being a part of what has been on offer so far.”

Creatives interested in applying for future Creative Challenge funding are encouraged to join the newly established Creative Wakefield Network. It is free to join the network, which brings together creative organisations within the district providing access to support, funding, commissioning and building connections within the sector.

To find out more and to see these projects develop, please visit www.creativewakefield.net.

MIL OSI United Kingdom