Jessie Joe Jacobs is planning a spectacular Festival of Teesside to unleash the creative power of local talent. The Labour candidate for Tees Valley mayor in May’s election has vowed to spark a cultural revival to put the area on the map.
She aims to back the arts and put the local creative sector centre stage with a £1m Tees Talent Investment fund.
Unused town centre buildings will be revamped as creative hubs to rehearse and stage events and give the Tees a network of venues, galleries and studios to nurture a grassroots creative revolution
And the arts and creative boom will be supported by a £30m investment in the tourism industry and attractions to make a vibrant Tees a go to destination.
And there will be an annual summer spectacular to showcase top Tees talent.
“I’m passionate about seeing our area thrive,” she said. “I want the Tees to be a great place to live, work and play. I want people to come and visit.
“And I will ensure that the arts, culture and tourism are right at the heart of our revival. We have incredible talent here and we must harness that.
“For the last ten years I have travelled the world learning how to regenerate places and I’m convinced that the arts, culture and entertainment are key.
“I want great jobs but also great things for people to do and be proud of, things that create a buzz around a community and enrich our people and that means investing in culture, in tourism, in music, the arts and comedy.
“The Tees Valley has incredible assets and incredible talent and I want to unleash that potential, put it on the map and make our area a national leader. “
Gigs and events will help attract visitors and spending from outside the region, boost the night-time economy and create jobs in hospitality and entertainment.
Jacobs has outlined a three point creatives plan to nurture a burgeoning live scene as the cultural and events industry recovers from the Covid-19 lockdown.
“One, there will be a £1m Tees Talent Investment Fund,” she said. “You will get the support and resources you need to pursue your dreams.”
The fund would back grassroots creatives by supporting artists, writers, musicians and comedians with an easy access grant to back their careers.
“Two, we will utilise empty spaces as creative hubs so artists have the places they need to develop their talents.”
Jacobs aims to use a High Streets Empty Space Fund to transform vacant shop units into socially useful spaces to help increase footfall and variety and breathe new life in town centres after a decade of decline.
“And three, starting in 2022, there will be a Festival of Teesside, a spectacular event that will showcase our creative talent and put us firmly on the map.”
The event would be staged over a summer weekend and would feature local creative talent and trade with a wide range of venues invited to stage events and exhibitions. Entry would be low-cost if not free.
“I can’t think of anything better than Tees talent being celebrated across the country and showing who we really are,” said Jacobs. “This can be the kick-start we need, a shot in the arm for a Teesside revival. I am so excited for the future. This is just the beginning.”