Creative sector in Hackney Wick given a boost with new freelancer commissioning fund

New funding to stimulate the creative sector will help artists and freelancers in Hackney Wick deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

‘Wick Together’ - funded through the Mayor of London’s Creative Enterprise Zone programme and managed jointly by Hackney Council, Tower Hamlets Council and the London Legacy Development Corporation - will upskill the local creative community to deliver training and courses that improve social cohesion, support local businesses and help residents develop creative skills.

Four new commissions are among the first projects to be supported by the fund. Together, they will create work for 20 freelance creatives who have lost contracts due to the crisis. The winning projects - which include creative workshops for local young people, and training in digital content and community co-creation for artists - will forge new links between the creative sector and residents in The Wick, engaging local people and teaching new creative skills.

Hackney Wick and Fish Island, one of London’s first Creative Enterprise Zones (CEZ), has been hit hard by the economic impact of coronavirus. While government support schemes have helped some, many freelancers and sole traders have been put at risk through loss of work. Each project supported by the fund will employ a minimum of 4 local creative practitioners, paid at London Living Wage, and will help unlock new revenue models to stimulate future growth.

The first projects delivered through the ‘Wick Together’ programme are:

Hackney Arts: £5,000

Hackney Arts will produce a series of creative workshops and a co-created original piece of installation art by artist Helena Doyle and the young people of Hackney Quest, as part of London Craft Week (30th September - 10th October). Workshops will focus on teaching creative skills to 25 -30 young Hackney Wick residents and the art installation will focus on the use of waste materials and recycled textiles to make a large hanging flower chandelier structure which will hang from the high ceiling of local gallery Stour Space."

The People Speak: £5,000

The People Speak, an East London based group of international artists, will collaborate with long-time local guide Hackney Tours to celebrate the diversity of the Wick. Using Talkaoke - a live pop-up talk show on the streets of the Wick (Sun 27 Sep) - followed by training sessions for freelancers and community participants, they will create and an interactive tour of the local area through the eyes of the local community, (launch date Sat 17 Oct).

True You Today: £5,000

True You Today will deliver training, upskilling local creatives to work with self-defined survivors and expanding upon the creative opportunities currently offered to womxn in the Wick. The project will deliver a minimum of 48 sessions for womxn from marginalised groups within HWFI CEZ. The programme will create a rare opportunity to reframe survivors’ relationships with their body and explore how they could see themselves in a fresh light.

Yodomo: £5,000

Yodomo will enable 10 local artists, designers, makers or craftspeople to convert their creative skills and expertise to online courses or other digital content; meeting the demandfor creative activities and creating new revenue streams, during and beyond the coronavirus pandemic by helping them monetize their creative businesses in new ways. The 10 creatives will learn how to produce digital content, with support from Yodomo, about their work or telling the story of their studios.

From co-created installations and tours to tailored workshops supporting personal and professional well-being, the successful projects are diverse but united by a common focus on skills development. The new projects will deliver training and establish creative engagement opportunities across the Wick, bringing communities together and ensuring that all residents benefit from Hackney Wick’s Creative Enterprise Zone

Cllr Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Planning, Culture and Inclusive Economy
The creative quarter of Hackney Wick and Fish Island has a world-class reputation as a community of creativity and enterprise, but the coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on both the resilience and prosperity of the community. Funding from the Wick Together programme will provide a timely and helpful lifeline for 20 local freelancers, and at the same time, support local residents to access new creative opportunities.

Hackney Wick and Fish Island is here to stay and we will continue to use every resource available to us to help secure the long-term future of the area’s creative and cultural community and create opportunities for the area’s residents and businesses to make Hackney a fairer borough for everyone.
Cllr Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Planning, Culture and Inclusive Economy
This funding will be a much-needed lifeline to local artists and creatives in Hackney Wick. Coronavirus has had a devastating effect on our creative industries, but these businesses will be key to our economic recovery and it’s important that we continue to do all we can to support them.
Justine Simons OBE, London Deputy Mayor of Culture and the Creative Industries
Creative businesses are often the most vulnerable to sudden economic and social shifts. They face a significant challenge following the unprecedented blow dealt by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, we also know that it is those same fantastic creative minds who so often find inspiration and opportunity in times of struggle. I’m pleased we’ve been able to support these five valuable projects to do just that.

We will continue to explore ways we can provide assistance to the rest of the Hackney Wick and Fish Island CEZ in the months ahead.
Cllr Motin Uz-Zaman, Cabinet Member for Work and Economic Growth, London Borough of Tower Hamlets
The creative sector on and around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is very important. It is great to see such diverse community groups being supported, and I look forward to seeing the results of these successful projects.
Paul Brickell, Executive Director of Regeneration and Community Partnerships, London Legacy Development Corporation

To find out more about the successful ‘Wick Together’ projects, visit www.hwfi.zone/wick-together