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Calling all the county's creative freelancers!

Creative Freelancers in Northumberland are being asked to take part in a research project to help shape the future of their industry.

Northumberland County Council has teamed up with Coventry University on a project which will investigate the ways in which creative freelancers work.

The project is asking freelancers in the creative sector to take part in a survey to look into the complex and different models freelance cultural and creative freelancers work within. It is hoped the results of the survey will lead to recommendations in policy to support a more resilient sector so that it can grow and flourish.  

Northumberland is one of three areas the University is working with on the project which also includes the London Borough of Waltham Forest and Coventry City.

Today’s announcement calls for anyone that identifies as a ‘Creative Freelancer’ providing services in any part of the arts and creative industries to come forward as potential subjects for in-depth interviews. The interviews will help the research team to establish a ‘typology’ of freelancer business models that will enable policy makers, funders and development agencies to develop more targeted strategies for supporting this part of the creative economy, the vulnerability of which has been exposed further by the impact of the Covid-19 crisis. 

Commissioned by the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) and led by Coventry University in partnership with Coventry City of Culture Trust, Creative United, Northumberland County Council, Waltham Forest Borough Council and Warwick Institute of Employment Research, the study will generate new insights into the business models of creative freelancers and their relationship to local labour markets, creative networks, supply chains and innovation ecosystems – as well as identifying the challenges that they face.  

As a first step, creative freelancers living and/or working in these three localities are being invited to complete a two-minute survey which can be accessed via this link: 

One of only six projects funded nationally, and led by the Centre for Business in Society at Coventry University, the research proposal responded to the PEC’s open call for projects that could help to demonstrate how freelancers and micro enterprises contribute to the UK’s creative industries.  

Professor Nick Henry of Coventry University said, “When we were awarded this project, we knew that freelancers are a lifeblood – but potentially vulnerable lifeblood - of the booming creative industries. We wanted to know how do they, and their different business models, engage with and embed in place? And with what economic and social outcomes? We still want to know, but that vulnerability has been laid bare by the pandemic crisis. Our funders and partners want to know more, because they are committed to creative freelancers and because place-based policy opens up possibilities to support them to be sustainable and resilient – even in times of crisis. We look forward to some great interviews and some innovative policy discussions.”

Cllr Cath Homer, cabinet member for Culture, Arts, Leisure and Tourism said: “We are delighted to be part of this important project with Coventry University.

“Northumberland has a strong network of freelancers working in the creative sector and this research will give us a better insight into how they work in order to create better working relationships in the future.”

Designed to produce ‘deep dive’ qualitative evidence on creative freelancers, this research will increase understanding of the economic relationships, dynamics and business personas of freelancer models in order to directly support locally-based investment and policy responses to creative industry business models. 

The study is expected to complete in late autumn 2020.

To find out more about the project and the full portfolio of six research projects that the PEC have commissioned, please visit: https://www.pec.ac.uk/news/our-first-commissioned-research-projects
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