Creative Stoke news update, 21st March 2013

The government’s new £15m Creative Employment Programme is holding an arts/cultural employer roadshow with Creative & Cultural Skills, in Manchester on the 26th March 2013. Over the next 2 years this £15m programme will aim to generate:

  1,600 Pre-Apprenticeships, targeted at 16-18 year olds
  2,900 Apprenticeships, targeted at 16-24 year olds
  2,000 paid internships, targeted at 18-24 year olds

Job: Newcastle-under-Lyme’s B Arts now has a paid Web development tender available, part of the £3m Creative People & Places programme (aka ‘Appetite’). There is no graphic design requirement, as the graphics and branding are being done by someone else. The planned Artsbank phase of the website (local community-arts resources directory + a ‘skills swop / time bank’) will come later, and is not included in the tender. Total fee is £8,000. Application deadline: 2nd April 2013.

UK Steel Enterprise is set to launch a new Access to Finance scheme for former steelworking areas. Grants of between £25,000 and £750,000 are available for growing companies creating “sustainable jobs”. Eligible areas of the Midlands include the Black Country and Stoke-on-Trent. Details from UK Steel Enterprise on:  0800 915 1188.

Staffordshire County Council’s “New Markets, New Horizons” event for potential local exporters in “manufacturing and service companies” is to be repeated. The new dates are 19th April 2013 at the Stafford campus of Staffordshire University; and 26th April 2013 at the Westwood Golf Club in the Staffordshire Moorlands town of Leek.

The young children’s arts Just So festival, a major annual festival located just five miles north of Stoke-on-Trent, has filmmaking opportunities available for students…

Added to the Directory: Lou Marshall, a fashion designer based in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Jobs: Several rare funded PhDs are on offer at Loughborough University, over on the other side of the Peak. These are in: Drawing and Visualisation; Textiles; Visual Culture; and Texts in Context. Deadline for applications: 13th May 2013.

Stoke-on-Trent’s Regent Theatre has an event of interest to local crime writers, on Tuesday 28th May 2013 (5.30pm). ‘Go Back for Murder’ is to be a discussion panel of “the country’s leading crime writers”, talking about their profession and discussing their latest novels. Cost is £3.

Moving Forward is a free community crafts course at the Mitchell Arts Centre. The 12-week course is free to people who are unemployed, working part time (less than 8 hours per week), or who are registered carers. Starts 16th April 2013, (10.30am-12.30pm).

The Community Performing Arts Centre (CPAC) of Congleton is moving to Hanley, to the old Jewish synagogue on Birch Terrace. It’ll be home to the M. Y. Youth and Adult Theatre and M. Y. Inter-Theatre Company, there be a dance academy, art and drama sessions for the disabled, and a coffee lounge. The place is being renovated now, making it suitable for disabled access, having previously been in a bit of state. Opening is set for April 2013. Can you help? Tradesmen are particularly needed Sunday March 17th – Sunday March 24th. Contact Jill on 07805 443595 or email

The Government’s new Cultural Giving Scheme has launched. If you have a masterpiece tucked away in a safe deposit box, why not donate it to the nation, during your lifetime, and claim a nice reduction in your tax liability? The scheme is capped at £30 million per year — first come, first served.


Disclaimer: this is my early understanding of the key budget measures for the creative industries. I haven’t had time to delve into the core documents with all the fine print.

Britain listened to the annual Budget from the Chancellor on Weds 20th March 2013. The main news for Stoke-on-Trent was that the local ceramics industry will be exempt from a new energy tax… “the industrial processes for that [Stoke-on-Trent ceramics] industry and some others [will be exempt] from the Climate Change Levy.” There will also be a 20% rate of corporation tax, “the lowest business tax of any major economy in the world” — which should benefit larger firms such as those operating in ceramics. The only drawback may be if this measure gets tangled up in the EU’s “state aid” rules.

There are planned new Tax Credits, to be aimed primarily at the UK’s leading visual FX industry — including advertising, high-end TV shows such as mini-series, and documentaries using 3D visualisation. These Tax Credits are seemingly set to be introduced on 1st April 2014, subject to EU approval. Tax Credits support for videogames developers, announced in the last budget, are reportedly delayed because they are tangled up in EU red tape.

These new VFX Tax Credits should provide a 25 percent tax break on qualifying productions. To qualify, productions are likely to have to meet the same rules as for earlier Tax Credits — to include a significant British element, and to be valued at roughly more than £1m per episode or product. The government estimates that this will cost the nation £65m a year by 2017/18 — but that this spending will bring in £12 income for the UK, for every £1 of taxpayer cash spent on the measure.

The current filmmaking tax credits will also reportedly stay in place until 2015, allowing filmmakers and their funders a 20% tax break.

The Skills Investment Fund will be increased by £10m, providing match-funded training for over 5,000 people working in film and TV mini-series, visual effects, animation and videogames.

There will be an extra £15 million for the Technology Strategy Board, supporting digital content production in the UK via industry-level competitions.

The government will… “increase by fivefold the value of government procurement budgets spent through the Small Business Research Initiative.”

There will be “growth vouchers available to small firms seeking advice on how to expand”. No further details on these yet, it seems.

The innovative and very successful Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) is being expanded and improved, which will make it even easier to attract investors to small startups needing up to £150,000. Filmmakers are eligible for the SEIS.

There will be a new tax relief to encourage private investment in social enterprise, with legislation brought forward in 2014 to enable this.

Radical and very well-funded measures to stimulate house-building and home ownership may (in time) have knock-on effects in boosting UK demand for home furnishings, interior design, and garden design. That’s just my guess.

Everyone will benefit from the new £10,000 Personal Allowance tax threshold. No-one will pay any tax at all on the first £10,000 of income, from April 2014. The former 10% tax band will also be reduced to 0%, effectively making the Personal Allowance £12,000 for some types of people. These changes are likely to help many low-earning artists and crafts makers and/or those growing their business while only taking out a small amount in income.

Small businesses wanting to employ people will benefit from the whopping £2,000 that has been chopped off employer National Insurance bills.

Being an employee shareholder will become subject to “more generous” measures.

There was apparently an increase for “above-the-line” R&D Credits “to 10%”.


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