Three innovative workspaces in Leeds have won the backing of senior councillors as part of a new bid to give the city’s creative individuals and start-ups a much-needed boost.
Leeds City Council’s executive board today gave its support to the first projects to benefit from the newly-created Creative and Digital Workspace Fund, set up to give fledgling businesses in one of the city’s most exciting sectors more opportunities to flourish.
At today’s meeting, members of the board gave the green light to support for Leeds Media Centre in Chapeltown as well as Leeds Arts Hostel and Hope Foundry in Mabgate.
All three will now receive funding through the scheme, enabling them to start work on projects to expand and refurbish a series of unique shared workspaces which can then be used as a modern base for artists, creative firms and digital small businesses.
The fund has been established after research showed that some small businesses in the city’s creative and digital sectors were struggling to find affordable workspaces in or near the city centre.
With help from the fund, social enterprise Unity Property Services plans to revamp and upgrade The Leeds Media Centre in Chapeltown which currently provides space for small businesses in the creative, digital and voluntary sectors.
The project will see the creation of additional workspace units and the development of a new incubation facility for prospective entrepreneurs and young businesses.
East Street Arts will relocate their hugely popular Leeds Arts Hostel to a new premises close to their St Patrick Studios headquarters in Mabgate.
Their original Arts Hostel venue proved a big hit, attracting more than 6,000 bookings a year, but is closing as the site is redevelopment by the property owner. Like the original, the new site will provide affordable temporary accommodation for visiting artists and performers as the city builds momentum towards Leeds 2023.
And the fund will also support Music and Arts Production (MAP) Charity in securing the long-term future of Grade 2 listed Hope Foundry.
Working with young people who are not thriving at school, MAP Charity is the anchor tenant of Hope Foundry and is looking to purchase and redevelop the building to increase the available space.
By investing in these projects the creative talent found right across the city in its young people will also have the opportunity to build their careers and businesses in the creative sector.
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “We know the creative and digital sectors in Leeds are bursting with innovation and ideas, with some incredibly imaginative businesses working on projects which will enrich the city’s economy and cultural scene immeasurably in the coming years.
“With Channel 4 relocating to our city and exciting cultural developments like Leeds 2023 becoming more and more central to life in Leeds, it’s important that we help give those companies every chance to establish themselves and fulfil their immense potential.
“Supporting these dynamic and specialised workspaces through the Creative and Digital Workspace Fund will help them to gain a vital foothold as we encourage them to grow and thrive in the uniquely fertile creative environment which modern Leeds has to offer.”
The approval of the Creative and Digital Workspace Fund comes as the executive board also approved proposals to establish a new world class TV and Film studio at the old Polestar Petty printworks on Whitehall Road.
The council also recently launched an expression of interest for television post-production companies to take a lease on the grade two listed property, The Engine House, located in the South Bank.
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