Funded by


Rural Creative Challenge


Tuesday 13th December, Thursday 12th January, Thursday 19th January, Thursday 9th February, Thursday 23rd February


Launch online with subsequent in-person workshops at The Rivergreen Centre, St Mary's Park, Stannington, Morpeth, NE61 6BL

Setting the scene

Through our support and research programmes we have become increasingly aware of the strong interest and demand for business support and funding from rural creative businesses and practitioners here in the North East. We have found through surveys and our on-the-ground activity that rural practitioners can feel more disconnected, can benefit from peer-to-peer interaction and value support resources greatly. More broadly, a rebalancing of the rural and cities socially and economically is aligned with the reducing regional inequalities agenda (or Levelling-Up) and we believe the cultural and creative industries have an important role to play in mitigating divides.

In response to these trends Creative Fuse has been running a series of action learning sets called Rural CreateNet, where we have worked with participants focusing on their priorities – this has included new business models, new ways of working with online and hybrid events, upgrading digital marketing strategies, accessing funding and exploiting technologies. This work and insight has contributed to the development of this challenge with our partners Creative UK and the Rural Design Centre Innovation Project.

The Challenge

Creative UK have a pot of £20k-40k grant funding for rural creatives who develop projects which align with one of the 7 themes below.

What is the Rural Creative Challenge?

Working with Creative UK and the Rural Design Centre Innovation Project we are inviting North of Tyne* based creatives to take part in this programme of support to develop projects responding to areas of interest or need that have been identified as a result of the partners working with rurally based creative practitioners and listening to their thoughts on current opportunities. Grant funding is available which is intended to enable those who take part in this programme to apply for funding that will help bring a project to life.

Programme overview

There are five sessions as follows:

Online Zoom Launch [90 mins] – Tuesday 13th December, 14:00-15:30

Overview of the programme, the themes of interest, and the partnership approach we are taking. If you would like to watch a recording of the online launch please follow this Zoom link and enter the password M1CF629!

Workshop One [4.5hrs] – Thursday 12th January, 10:00–14:30

Theme exploration, ideation and concept development. This session will be in-person [venue: The Rivergreen Centre, NE61 6BL]

Workshop Two [4.5hrs] – Thursday 19th January, 10:00–14:30

Building a business model around the concept, piloting ideas and funding. This session will be in-person [venue: The Rivergreen Centre, NE61 6BL]

Workshop Three [3hrs] – Thursday 9th February, 10:00–13:00

Pitching and feedback. This session will be in-person [venue: The Rivergreen Centre, NE61 6BL]

Applications – Thursday 23rd February

Final application for funding deadline [online].

What are the project themes?

Applications for grant funding will be welcome from North of Tyne creatives who have taken part in the programme and who have developed projects which align with one of the following themes:

  • Rural Creativity : Urban Consumption – Exploring how to build links between works produced rurally, and how to raise awareness of them in urban areas.
  • Collective Platforms for Creative and Cultural Products – Developing live/workspaces, online directories and retail environments.
  • Culture, Creativity and Tourism – Finding ways to enhance touristic experiences of the countryside with culture and creativity.
  • Wellbeing and Creativity – Projects which enable engagement with new customer bases by using arts to support wellbeing. This may include ideas which link to social prescribing (local, non-clinical services which support health and/or wellbeing).
  • Place-making : Regeneration – Working on the regeneration of physical spaces or developing and improving the profile of rural places via greater production of local/hyper local content.
  • Creative Sustainability – Projects which address the creative “brain drain” away from rural locations and which aim to upskill rurally located individuals.
  • Innovation for Rural Creativity – Developing current practice and production or distribution processes for sustainability by innovative use of new techniques and/or materials.

Who is this for?

Our support is available free-of-charge to creative/cultural/digital SMEs*, businesses, organisations and practitioners in the North of Tyne (Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle).

Location and how do I sign up / find out more?

The Rural Creative Challenge will be delivered as follows: the launch session on Tuesday 13th December was held online – to view a recording of this session please follow this Zoom link and enter the password M1CF629!

All subsequent workshop sessions are being delivered in-person – the venue for these workshops will be The Rivergreen Centre, St Mary’s Park, Stannington, Morpeth, NE61 6BL.

For a general or informal chat about the programme, please email with the email title ‘Rural Creative Challenge’ in the first instance.


*Am I eligible?

If you can answer yes to the questions below, you may be eligible to take part in this programme:

  • Are you based (registered or have a trading address) in the North of Tyne (Northumberland, North Tyneside, and Newcastle)?
  • Do you have fewer than 250 employees?
  • Is your annual turnover less than €50 million, and/or your annual balance sheet is less than €43 million?

If your answer to any of the above is “not sure”, then please get in touch and we will help you to confirm whether you are eligible.

Please be aware that your details will be shared with the project partners: Rural Design Centre Innovation Project and Creative UK.