Durham University: Supporting the local creative community

Creative Fuse North East at the Business School is a multi-year project aimed at supporting County Durham’s creative economy. Over the last six months, the project has brought together local small businesses, freelancers and practitioners within the creative, cultural and digital sectors to form a dynamic and inclusive community of learning.

Through business support events, workshops and bespoke one-to-one support opportunities, the project seeks to empower those working within the County’s creative economy to innovate and grow their business during an immensely difficult time.

The team engaging with the local creative community consists of researchers/specialists within innovation and the creative economy, digital skills and technologies, business development and marketing communications.

The project team works directly with creative businesses to understand current challenges being faced by many within the sector, allowing for a continuous portfolio of personalised content to be designed around identified development and support needs. The team have successfully supported dozens of small businesses from across the County, all taking advantage of the practical workshops offered through the project’s bespoke programme of support called Your Journey.

Previous event workshops have included themes of:

innovation and pivoting in response to new ways of working and selling
embracing digital tools to develop an online presence and reach new audiences
considering ways to effectively find and apply for funding opportunities, and
techniques to identify what the future of small businesses looks like within the creative sector.
Not only do these workshops deliver engaging support material for local creatives, but serve as a catalyst for new business ventures and networking opportunities. Owen Weightman, owner of 3D Virtual Spaces, a Durham-based small business that specialises in creating interactive virtual tours, reflected on his time spent engaging with the project:

“Over the last few months, my involvement in the Creative Fuse programme has definitely helped my company to develop. The training and discussion groups have allowed me to learn a lot about myself and focus on how I can use creativity to improve my strategies and services. Being involved with such a varied mixture of businesses not only allows everyone to help and support each other, but also acts as a powerful networking tool.”

The Creative Fuse project is committed to developing and sustaining long-term engagement between the University and the diverse creative business communities located within the County.

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