Huge virtual festival for the North’s creative sector returns

Hundreds of creative industry professionals are being invited to join a two-day virtual event this month – the only one of its kind in the North of England.

The Creative Leaders Festival 2021, organised by GC Business Growth Hub on behalf of The Growth Company, will take place from May 25 to 26.

The virtual expo will provide advice about support available to the sector and its sub-sectors to help businesses plan and grow, with the two-day event featuring a series of high-profile speakers, roundtable discussions and workshop sessions.

More than 70 industry experts from creative, digital and tech industries will be speaking at the event.

Guests include Creative England’s Mehjabeen Patrick; Manchester International Festival’s Paul Clay; Northern Ballet’s Chief Executive Mark Skipper, co-chair of Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership and CEO of Magnetic North Lou Cordwell OBE and oger Marsh OBE DL, Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and NP11.

This is the second festival following last year’s inaugural event, which covered the North West and attracted more than 450 delegates to register. This year’s expo promises to be even bigger and has been extended to cover more Northern areas.

It is open to any creative, digital or tech business, based in the North of England, operating in fields such as film, TV, photography, design, gaming, fashion, marketing and PR.

The event is being supported by Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

It will be opened by Minister of State for Digital and Culture, Caroline Dinenage, at 10am.

Minister of State for Digital and Culture, Caroline Dinenage, said: “The creative industries will play a vital role in helping to drive the economy as we build back better from the pandemic.

“It is fantastic to see thriving creative industries across the north where the sector is continuing to make important strides as part of our levelling up agenda. This festival is a great opportunity to celebrate this success and be inspired for the future.”

Delegates can join panel discussions, Q&A sessions, workshops and sector specific roundtable sessions, as well as a virtual exhibition and peer to peer networking.

Workshops delivered by sector specialists from across the North will cover topics such as understanding the funding maze; creating a culture of diversity and inclusion, and protecting your assets.

The Hub is part of The Growth Company and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Head of Digital, Creative, and Tech at the Hub, Sarah Novotny, said: “This is a unique festival which will give businesses the opportunity to hear from industry specialists, share knowledge and best practice, and discover the wide ranging support that is available.

To see the full schedule and to register for the event (at no cost), please visit:

The festival is also backed by Creative Industries Council, Creative England, Creative Industries Federation, Creative Lancashire, Boost Business Lancashire, Liverpool Growth Platform, Northern Ballet, Scale-up Institute, AD:VENTURE, Channel 4, The Future Fashion Factory and the Intellectual Property Office.

Sarah Carling AD:VENTURE Programme Manager, Leeds City Region said: We are very pleased to be able to support the Creative Leaders Festival 2021, which is facilitating a pan northern approach to enabling growth in this vital and vibrant sector. We recognise the creative sector was growing at an impressive rate prior to the pandemic, contributing over 110 billion to the UK economy, and we must take the opportunity in the North to enable this growth to continue. AD:VENTURE is keen to work with any creative business in the Leeds City region with ambitions to grow and scale up.

This and other GC Business Growth Hub projects are part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the GM Business Growth Hub project, designed to help ambitious SME businesses achieve growth and increase employment in Greater Manchester. The Hub is also supported by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Greater Manchester local authorities.