New cultural business support project launched

Published Monday, 18th May 2020

A new cultural business support project has been launched in Hartlepool, creating an online community network designed to help the creative sector dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Creative Social started its life as an idea to connect creative businesses, freelancers and practitioners in Hartlepool through a series of events in the town’s cultural venues.

In response to the recent pandemic the team behind the project has reimagined the idea and developed it as an online format, offering the creative sector a digital forum with an area to access support and share skills specifically related to the cultural industries in Tees Valley.

The project has been commissioned by Hartlepool Borough Council as part of the  Great Place Tees Valley scheme, delivered via the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority. It will feature a series of commissioned think pieces, online question and answer events and one-to-one mentoring sessions, specifically designed to help creatives with planning for an uncertain future - with topics planned to include festivals, music, theatre and film.  These will be delivered by industry experts with international experience.  The think piece and online Q&A can be accessed online by anybody, with the one-to-one mentoring sessions offered to Hartlepool based organisations and practitioners.

The first in the series for this exciting new digital programme is called What is the 'New Normal'?  Delivered by festivals and events expert, Paul Gudgin, the piece focuses on how the industry will need to adapt, drawing on historical evidence from previous crisis.  The think piece is available now on the Hartlepool Creatives Facebook site and the date for the Q&A is Wednesday 20th May at 6:30pm to book please visit

Cllr Shane Moore, Hartlepool Borough Council Leader and Tees Valley Combined Authority Cabinet Lead for Culture said: “This is a difficult time for businesses, organisations and groups of all stripes, and we need to make sure our vital culture sector is robust enough and fully prepared to face the future head-on. This fantastic new project will give our creatives access to a wealth of experience and advice to make sure they have all the support they need to continue their craft, ensure their livelihoods and play their part in securing Tees Valley’s economy.”

Carlo Viglianisi, Director of Empty Shop the organisation delivering the project explains

 “ At this time, it’s important to respond to the ‘new reality’ of the covid-19 world whilst maintaining the core objectives of building a critical mass of creative talent in Hartlepool and empowering the local sector.

"More than ever, it is important to build resilience and capacity within Hartlepool’s cultural sector - ensuring students and practitioners are equipped to prosper in, what will be, a very different landscape in the months ahead.”

To find out more visit

The series is delivered by Empty Shop and Hartlepool Borough Council as part of the Great Place Tees Valley project.

 “ A Great Place Tees Valley project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England’