What now for UK Education for Our Screens?

In the last month PACT have published a report highlighting the problems with UK independent film production. Last week Screen International published interviews with UK sales agents talking about a system that is broken. The number of UK independent films has declined steadily over the last few years, with the vast majority now budgeted under £500,000, and receiving no theatrical distribution, over 700 from 2003-13.

In addition, Stephen Garret, a leading UK TV producer, in a British Screen Advisory Council panel discussion stated that UK television was under attack, and likely to not be able to make shows like ‘Happy Valley’ in a few years time.

With the problems arising from Brexit, and the probable withdrawal of MEDIA funding for development and distribution, the future is not looking good for future UK graduates in screen content creation. The one area where there is still some hope is obviously games, but is this the only option for future screenwriters, directors, animators, producers, and camera people? After all games companies are generally far smaller than film or TV production teams, and have less need for freelance creatives as these are generally the founders of the company.

The Current Situation

At Cannes in 2017 the only Brit directors are the established actor Vanessa Redgrave, Welsh/Zambian Rungano Nyomi and Lynnne Ramsey (An Amazon Studio Film) with the first of the three stating she does not want to direct again. Now Cannes is not the only guide to UK feature success but it is Europe’s major International festival and for this to be the UK presence is some indication of how far we are from other countries. Germany for instance is involved in five films ‘In Competition’ with another eight screening out of Competition.

Film and TV production in the UK is booming with studio space from Pinewood to Titanic booked out, the resurrected ITV Studios in full production mode, and the BBC drama department commissioning new dramas every year. This means craft based skills and production graduates should do well in the foreseeable future.

However, the vast majority of these productions are dependent on US based finance, and projects tend to be only greenlit if US monies are available – even in documentaries. The question then arises as it has in the past, what if the US companies decide to take production elsewhere?

“I don’t think the old rules apply anymore”                Alison Thompson, formerly Focus Features International Chief, now co-founder of Cornerstone Films.

Many, if not the majority of, UK courses are still geared to the pattern of production and distribution/exhibition, which existed until ten years ago. So how do they adapt to the new situation? What should we be teaching the next generation of screen creative? How will UK voices reach global audiences if the theatrical route is closed off and TV is internationalised.

Future Industry Solutions

Inevitably some are arguing for more tax breaks specifically for UK independent productions, and there is in place, in principle if not in practice, an agreement that this should be treated as a UK producer’s equity in a production. This almost certainly would boost production, but would it create a long-term stable screen content sector, based upon Intellectual Property Rights owned in the UK? This s unlikely, without some major changes in the distribution and exhibition space, which is being steadily colonised by Netflixs and Amazon.

However, as has been stated in previous blogs the issue is not just one of production money. It is also about content development itself, support for the freelance and micro-companies which dominate the creative sector, and a new approach to direct marketing on the web. Changing the mode of distribution/exhibition, and thus creating replacement revenue streams dose not affect the quality of work or guarantee an audience.

Educational Solutions.

If the new T-levels and apprenticeships work then the technical skills, which underpin studio productions and the large screen service sector should be in place for the foreseeable future. The bigger problem is what about the creation of new IP, new companies, and careers for creative graduates? In this context, the Tick system of industry approval for courses is probably due for an overhaul. However, a bigger issue is how to ensure the next generation of graduate creatives are able to compete in the global market?

In the area of content development we need to move away from the simple feature film narrative structures, and the ‘auteurist’, theories, which have dominated teaching over the last thirty years. Narrative theory has moved on, and more complex approaches are required for a very screen literate audience.

UK support for directors is now reduced to a handful of low budget options, which are potentially besieged by thousands of graduates. Directors have been commissioned on the basis of global video submissions by Machinima for online TV series for over eight years. The launch of Amazon Video Direct provides an another alternative to YouTube, but also all national broadcasters, who potentially will lose out in the race to make new drama series.

Producers in the UK face a diminishing area of operations as the ability to finance UK Indie films continues to decline. Graduates of production courses, including creative industry masters degrees, need to be able to not only build teams, work across multiple platforms, and use different funding models e.g. crowd funding etc. but also crucially be able to develop global content, as making a deal on something which does not work is not a business.

In the context of these needs there is clearly a need to re-think our future educational plans.

Challenging

We are clearly living in very challenging times, and educational institutions are finding it difficult to adjust to the rapidly changing climate. Many staff learnt their skills in the old systems, and still yearn for a past age. Students still buy a myth of instant success, and point to music and YouTube stars as exemplars of their own ambition. There are lessons to be learnt and taught from both arenas and mobile games etc. This is our challenge.

The Creative Industries has grown as a sector faster than most other parts of the UK economy in the past seven years but this has largely been based upon some star players and ‘unicorn’ companies. The future needs to be based upon graduates who can create in the new landscape and be flexible to face the challenges ahead.

 

 

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Creatives’ Futures in the UK

Following our own ‘Expanding the Creative Piepline’ response to the government’s Industrial Strategy document this blog looks at the responses of two of the major Creative Industries representative’s responses to the consultation.  The Creative Industries Council CIC), is a government advisory board set up to officially provide advice to the government.  The Creative Industries Federation(CIF) is a membership organisation created to provide an independent voice for the creative industries.

Much of what they say is reflected in BCre8ive’s own submissions and it shows the degree to which there is some agreement on the key issues going forward. This is seen in the following statement from the Creative Industries Council

“Securing the talent pipeline

We want to establish a new partnership between industry and Government,local and national, to ensure that we are able to develop, attract and retain the skills and talent our sectors need now and for the future, covering every stage from school to technical pathways and apprenticeships, further and higher education and in-job training. In doing so we want
and need to afford greater access and opportunities to diverse talent across the UK.” CIC

 

The Questions of Access and Diversity.

“A creative careers campaign – to diversify recruitment and counteract inadequate and misleading advice on jobs available and the education and training needed for them.” CIF

“Provide job opportunities and career pathways for people from all backgrounds, linked to high quality education and training provision; and encourage entrepreneurship.” CIC

There is a shocking lack of diversity within some parts of the creative industries, and the need to address this is clearly paramount if the UK as a whole is to develop its talent, and support all those who could create new global creative works – from games to visual art, and from design to web series. Without an opening up of access to the full creative community then all the other changes further down the creative pipeline will be limited in their impact. However, the need  for creativity and collaboration in education is vital if this approach is to be sustained over the longer term.

Access to finance

“(The creation of ) A ‘business booster’ network – to provide access to high-quality advice for startups and small enterprises on exporting, intellectual property (IP) and access to finance.” CIF

“Catalysing Investment
The creative industries are dominated by small and micro businesses, and by project-based ways of working. Evidence suggests they can find it particularly difficult to secure the investment needed to grow and scale up.” CIC

Providing seed and investment money for freelancers and micro-companies (who combined make up over 90% of the creative industries) is critical to future success. This is difficult and seen to be very risky in some quarters, which is why it needs to be combined with effective content development support plus marketing advice and support. Funding and marketing poorly developed work is no solution, as the steady decline of the UK’s independent film sector has shown. Addressing the content development issue is critical to the success of a more effective financing strategy.

Creative Clusters

“Creative enterprise zones – modelled on the tax breaks and dedicated government support offered in existing enterprise zones but tailored for the creative industries.” CIF

“The Council will bring forward proposals for action, informed by and working with partners, to grow major, sustainable local creative ecosystems in targeted areas across the UK, in order to:- stimulate the local investment which will enable creative businesses to start,and then to scale up, securing gains in both productivity and critical mass (and) boost local economic growth through developing the wider supply chain and the local creative and cultural infrastructure” CIC

Creative clusters were identified in NESTA’s research, and by the work of the FUSE programme, supported by the AHRC. The issue they highlighted though was the dominance of London and the other major cities and the issues in future creative support is how do we reach beyond this metro-centric vision of creative activity in the UK.

For decades the access to training and finance has been concentrated in these big conurbations, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy that this is where the creatives are. They  had no choice they either moved to London etc., or were ignored, and thus not supported. Creativity should not bounded by the number of coffee shops or the ability to network with those who have money, that a city provides. The web and the growth of fast broadband means we are now able to support and engage talent wherever it lives, and we need to ensure any new initiatives recognises this. Let us not forget that the tech nerd who blocked the latest world wide cyber attack lives in Ilfracombe.

The Bigger Picture

The Creative Industries have been recognised by all the major political parties in the UK, judging by the recent manifestos. However,  they all leave out much of the detail necessary to implement a significant expansion in the success of creatives in the UK. In addition there is the question of implementing such a major change.  Current structures are major city dominated, and top down in approach. Overall this will not serve the vast majority of freelances and micro-companies in the creative sector.

In order to support creative freelancers and micro companies we need to fully embrace a digital solution, and address the global markets for our work not just the UK.  This will not be easy, it will not be an overnight fix, and it will take effort form all creatives to up their game, but it is a massive opportunity. It is a potentially great future for creatives in the UK.

 

 

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Expanding the Creative Pipeline

There is real potential for the Creative industries to build an expanded creative
pipeline. A structure, which utilises existing technology, capitalises on intellectual
property, and grows the talent pipeline. It can achieve this by opening access to new talent, creating a new skills base, supporting freelancers and micro businesses, improving access to finance, and exploiting web distribution.

In 2014 UK Creative Industries exports formed 9% of UK total exports (£37.7bn),
worth £3.3bn. However, £3.3bn of a global market worth £1,106bn is only 0.3%.
By 2020 the global media market is predicted to reach £1,335b – will we still only
have 0.3% or possibly even less?

If we expand our creative pipeline from UK creatives to global audiences we can ensure the latter does not happen, and improve on our 0.3% share.

By creating a digital approach to the five pinch points in the Creative Pipeline it will be possible to unlock the enormous growth potential and productivity of the freelancers and micro-companies, which dominate the creative industries.

In addition, it will provide the opportunity not only for more unicorns to appear within the UK creative industries but also profits to be generated through greater UK
ownership of IP rights.

There is a digital opportunity to ensure this growth continues not only in employment, but market share, productivity, exports, and profitability by expanding the creative pipeline.

The problems, which stand in the way of this expansion can be summarised as
follows :-
1. The fractured nature of the Creative Industries – freelancers(43%)1 and micro
companies(94%)2 dominate.
2. A lack of inclusivity is hampering talent and content creation
3. Content development has been unsupported, as opposed to talent
development
4. Finance and production is metro-centric, yet creative clusters and individuals
exist across the UK
5. Access to finance is severely restricted leading to a lack of UK profits
6. Marketing support for small Indie companies and individuals is lacking, limiting
export potential

BCre8ive believes we can tackle these problems as part of the government’s New Industrial Strategy but also if people in the creative industries create a network which works for everyone.

Creating a digital, service-based, network, which unites all aspects of the creative
industries with global audiences, will involve all parts of the creative pipeline,
including existing and new providers.

This network will include the following new provisions to compliment existing
services and opportunities
1. A central information portal for creative freelancers and microcompanies.
2. New Content Development Courses
3. A new network of Content Development Mentors
4. An improved portfolio investment environment
5. Development finance increases
6. Co- and Match funding for creative startups
7. A marketing package and service for freelancers and micro-companies

FOR THE FULL VERSION OF  ‘Expanding the Creative Pipeline’ write to admin@bcre8ive.eu and we will send you a FREE copy.

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What is the future for Creatives in the UK?

The UK Government’s Green Paper sets out ten pillars on which a new industrial strategy will be built for the UK. The creative industries – everyone from architects and writers to web and game designers, from photographers to performers – has been identified as a key part of this new approach.  The question is how do creatives fit into the ten pillars, and how will they be best served by the new strategy.

Ten Pillars?

Some of the pillars are directed at sectors where the creative industries input is as a service e.g. infrastructure projects, improving scientific innovation, affordable energy and improving government procurement. There are other pillars where changes need to occur for the creative sector to benefit, in particular, the focus on STEM subjects in teaching and skills development. Without a focus on creative subjects in schools and universities the current rapid growth of the creative sector will be undermined, not enhanced, in years to come. In addition, the weakness in content development skills across the sector is an ‘Achilles Heel’ which will undermine the expansion, and potential global reach, of creative output in the UK.

The key to the new strategy working is based upon a number of other pillars working.

  1. Supporting Creative businesses to start and develop world class IP content.
  2. Cultivating the existing world leading creative sector to grow.
  3. Engaging with creative talents across the whole of the UK.
  4. Developing new institutions to meet the needs of the dominant creative workforce – freelancers, and companies  – micros.

So what are the key problems?

Each of the above four areas has distinctive problems which need to be addressed.

Creative Start Ups and Development.

Thousands of arts and media graduates enter the creative industries each year, alongside numerous freelance entrepreneurs . On this basis we should see a logarithmic growth in the creative sector. However, many freelancers leave the industry within 5-10 years with a subsequent loss of skills and talent.  Why? Lack of access is a key issue, as is a negative romanticised  culture,  along with the fragmented and unsupported nature of most creative start ups and freelancers.

In addition, much of the key skills to develop successful content which works for global audiences is missing in their training. This lack of skill is compounded by an absence of an effective mentoring scheme within the industry.  The latter is largely owing to the micro size of most companies who work from project to project with no capacity for extra staff or training.  See Nick  Park talking about the move from successful Oscar winning short films to feature films HERE

Cultivating The Creative Sector

All businesses need financial support at the early stages. Many argue that the arts and creative companies are cheap to set up, and so no investment is necessary to encourage start ups in this sector. This attitude has led to a massive number of failures, and an ongoing talent drain.

It also ignores the reality of much of the new digital creative environment. To have  a chance of a mobile game being a financial success means an investment in excess of £300,000.  While a feature film takes a minimum of £2.5m and a high end TV series over £1m per episode. Even a graphic novel needs in excess of £100.000. These are not enormous sums compared to a new drug development but they are hardly pocket-money.  The lack of portfolio investments across creative projects at this relatively small scale is a major inhibitor of growth.

Engaging with Talent Everywhere

The past has been dominated by the need for talent to move to London to be a success. The future must be based upon the recognition that talent can thrive everywhere in a digital age if given the right support. Two animators living on a Cumbrian fell farm are just as capable of delivering a world class children’s series or advertising content, as someone working in Soho, if they are digitally supported and connected to partners and collaborators.

Building these networks and support structures is a critical part of ensuring every talented person in the UK can have a reasonable chance at success in the creative sector.

 

Creating the Right Institutions – Networks.

The creative industry is dominated by freelancers – 43% according to Creative Skillset, in some disciplines it is much higher than this. Add to this the numerous micro companies and we are dealing with a very uncoordinated and fragmented sector. This inevitably presents a major problem for government and national organisations, who seek to talk to similar scale bodies as themselves, and lack the capacity to engage with literally tens of thousands of sole traders and micro companies.

However, every part of the creative sectors has its own small networks. Every part of the UK has universities with links to the current and future generations of creatives. With broadband promised for all areas it will be possible to link any individual creative to another creative or a team anywhere in the UK to develop new works.

For this to happen we need a new digital platform which goes beyond just advertising opportunities, and show cases, to actively encourage new projects, builds teams, and provides creative development and financial support at the early and key stages of the creative process.

 

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Freelancers Survey – Time for a Voice

The Creative Industries Federation has just issued a survey for freelancers.

Why should you, as a freelancer, fill it in – apart from the fact that it’ll only take 10-15 minutes?

  1. We freelancers are, according to Creative Skillset, 43% of the Creative industries workforce – yet we have no national voice.
  2. The government is in the middle of a consultation (Green Paper) for the UK’s new industrial strategy . One focus is the Creative Industries – we need to be heard if we are to benefit from this.
  3. Most of us work alone, with little effective financial, material, or training support – this will only change if we ask for more.

Last year the government estimated we were only 10% of the workforce until the above figures came out. This shows how little we are seen, or heard, by people who shape our taxes, our industry networks, our working conditions, and our training opportunities.

Fill in this survey – it does only take 1o-15 minutes, (once you have read it through) and start to create a noise, which will help shape our futures.  It is confidential, and all information given is protected under the Data Protection Act 1998.

To help you fill in the survey here are some notes on the key questions.

Qu. 4. If you are not a member of the Creative Industries Federation you can state that BCre8ive is the Federation member who sent you this survey.

Qu. 6. You can tick as many sectors as you wish.

Qu. 8-12. There is a ‘prefer not to say’ option if you do not want to reply to some potentially sensitive info e.g. age.

Qu. 16. Probably the most sensitive question – how much do you earn? Again you can state ‘prefer not to say’. However, the ranges are large and if we are to make the case for financial support, and improvements in tax etc. we need to know some general income figures, which we can put in front of people. So please, if you can, select the range which covers you.  It does not matter if it is £100 or £100,000 plus, what matters is we have an idea how much freelancers are actually earning.

Qu. 17. The proportion which you earn as self-employed. Many freelancers work under PAYE in one job, and then earn/work as freelancer as well. It is this we need to have a sense of. Part-time – often referred to as portfolio working, is normal for creative people, but  is largely hidden from industry statistics. This is your chance to reveal it.

Qu. 18. How many contracts per year?   We remember all the big contracts! The big issue here is all the small one-off payments you might receive for a lecture, a small job, appearing at an event, which often make up the bulk of your work. Please include in your total number every single one you can remember or can check on – or estimate an annual number based on past years’ activities.

Qu.20. Have you done unpaid work in the past year? This means unpaid creative work, which includes all pitch documents, presentations, instagram portfolios, spec writing; unpaid performances etc.

Qu. 21. Do you supplement your freelance income within the creative industries by working in other creative sectors – just list relevant sector e.g. visual arts, publishing.

Qu.22. Details of self employed/freelance work outside the creative industries need be no more than a job title e.g. part-time shop assistant; teacher; heating engineer; civil servant, care assistant.

Qu.23.  There are thousands of media and arts graduates a year in the UK . How much have the universities and colleges supported you since you graduated – assuming you did!

Qu.24. For most freelancers the answer to ‘training in the last year?’ will be none – please make sure you say this. It is an area for future investment.

Qu.25. This is all about access to the industry. How did you start, and how do you obtain new work?

Qu.26. Most of us use computers at home or on the move. The question is do we need special creative hubs like Regus, or Workspace buildings; or access to specialist equipment e.g. Adobe editing suite, or cheap venues for performance and rehearsals? Or in this digital age would an online freelance network, and digital support be more appropriate?

Qu.27 This is all about support where you are. If you are miles from a large town or  city how can you be supported in your work. If in a large town or city how can your situation be improved?

Qu.28. Protecting your IP rights has been a big issue for many decades. So think a little wider.  Could the traditional contracts you sign be changed for the better? Should your spec work be treated as an ‘investment’ and therefore valued in a share of profits or rights ownership?

Qu.29. Feel free to raise anything which you think can improve the lot of creatives.

Qu.30. Yes it is confidential so if you do want to talk about it, please let them know.

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UK Challenge Fund for the Creative Industries?

The Innovate and AHRC Challenge Fund for supporting innovation in the UK is currently being drawn up.

Here are the suggestions published in various workshops around the UK over the two weeks for why the Creatives Industries fit the Funds criteria. The challenge now for all freelancers and micro companies ie people working in firms/teams of less than 10 people is to have voice in pushing for funds to support their work.

Please feel free to use the following statistics and criteria in contacting Innovate and AHRC – or add your own.

For ideas on what the fund might pay for to help you create and market your work see the recent BCre8ive blog New Creative Industry Strategy?

Global Market:

  • Global media market – $2Trillion
  • AR/VR global market forecast to be $150bn by 2020
  • Advertising – $468bn
  • Games – $99bn
  • Film (box office only) $48bn
  • Design – currently worth £71bn to UK

UK Capability:

  • The UK’s creative economy provides jobs for 2.9 million people and accounts for around 10% of the whole economy
  • Acknowledged world-class service, content and production base (e.g. ILM, Framestore, BBC, WPP, Heatherwick Stds)
  • Employment continues to grow faster than the workforce as a whole growing by 5.1% between 2104-2015 compared to 2% for the rest of the workforce.
  • The sector is particularly strong at exporting, with services exported by the UK creative industries in 2014 representing 9% of all UK exports.
  • Nearly 50% of Creative Exports are in Digital services underpinned by the UK Digital Economy which represents around 10% of GDP.

Timeliness for Impact:

  • AR/VR on brink of mass adoption – no dominant platform or service design, hence opportunities for UK
  • Synergies with games and film sectors as they race to develop new technologies for converging media
  • Significant R&D tax credit and corporation tax incentives to attract investment in R&D
  • GDPR (EU personal data regulation) will drive need for innovation in fields such as (online) advertising
  • Increasing need for strong regionally-based industries to enhance value through creative inputs (e.g. VR, UX and content for robotics, Automotive and health sectors)

Additionality:

  • Make up of creative sector means most innovative forms are small and need capacity building to undertake R&D
  • Weak inter-sector supply chain links means need for collaborative R&D incentives and networks (e.g. Immerse UK)
  • Disproportionate concentration of creative in London & SE
  • No current dominant designs in areas such as AR/VR require seed public investment
  • Ability to attract talent and large businesses from around the world on world-beating challenges – e.g. USA, China inward investment opportunity.
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New Creative Industry Strategy?

This week the UK  government launched its new industrial strategy green paper , and consultation. It states that the Creative Industries are one of the five priorities. This follows on a consultation process involving AHRC and Innovate into how to spend a £4b+ Challenge Fund.  We urge everyone who is involved in creative work to take the time to contact people, and respond to these two important sources of funds and support for creatives in the UK.

In Four Solutions for the Creative Industries BCre8ive identified key areas for improvement.

We need to be more collaborative in our overall approach to the Creative Industries. This will involve re-thinking our national support structures and peer review systems within the creative environment, developing effective outreach strategies to create greater diversity, and taking risks on new platforms/global audiences. Pursuing such practices in existing companies and funding schemes, will shorten development time, and raise our overall success rate.

“Getting the right people and the right chemistry is more important than getting the right idea.”            Ed Catmull

In this context, there is a need to recognise the importance of freelancers, and micro-companies, not only in promoting creativity, but also in improving our chances of success. Therefore, greater support for creative freelance training and a wider access to funded mentoring is key to growing the C.I. sector.

How can this be achieved?

There are four key infrastructure and innovative investment activities to ensuring we achieve collectively the best output.  However, none of this will be possible if we do not start from where we are, and know what our goals are in planning a new future for creatives in the UK.

Over 40% of the Creative Sector is freelance, in addition the vast majority of companies have less than 10 employees. Therefore, our first task is to support these creative hubs in ways which enhance their ability to develop new works and take them to audiences without burdening them with top down structures.

The first is the provision of high end broadband across the country to ensure creatives can work anywhere – thus reducing the importance of London as the creative digital centre.. The second is to recognise we do not need physical hubs – anyone visiting in a popular, wifi-free coffee bar or public arts centre knows that creatives already use these as their bases all the time. However, we do need a vastly improved cross sector digital network providing low cost access to training, tools, and development support.

Thirdly we need seed investment to take projects from initial concept to market readiness, and fourth a new marketing strategy for freelancers and micro-companies to compete in the global web-based distribution space.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The first of these is currently rolling out under ofcom regulation. The sooner the better, with a reach, and realistic cost, into every part of the UK. One freelancer was quoted  £4000+ on top of a government subsidy to install fast broadband to their office – in London!

The second requires new investment in a digital cross platform network, supported by major creatives, and incorporating creative mentors, online development support, university creative teams plus local and national cross sector co-ordination.

“Creativity is just connecting things. ”     Steve Jobs

The third requires recognising ‘sweat capital’ in the creative sector R&D as much as it is within tech and science. Also supporting freelancers and micro companies to gain access to tax credits, and SEIS and EIS funds. In addition, the creation of an educational programme for investors into how effective creative sector investment can be, and how to support a portfolio approach.

Finally, investment in the setting up of a social media and web-based marketing and distribution network  for freelancers and micro companies. A network which combines the benefits of platforms such as ‘Kickstarter’, with brand creation, fandom, digital content creation, and equity investment.

If we succeed in these areas we will ensure a more inclusive sector, with a national spread, with a global potential for GVA growth, and employment opportunities, which are less susceptible to automation in 21st century.

This is to say nothing of potentially 10,000s, if not 100,000s, happy creatives and millions of new audience members.

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Funding Your Creative Work Part 1. Grants

A new year and new creative projects beckon, but how to fund them? Following on from the previous blog on crowdfunding this one looks at public funds available to creatives in the UK.  Future blogs will look at private investment, and competitions – for up dates on current competition go to https://www.bcre8ive.eu/competitions-and-events.

A few words of warning with respect to grant funding.

a. Grants tend to be for very specific purposes, and aimed at very specific types of creator. Therefore, do not expect to find a grant for your project or try to make your creative work fit a programme it is not a fit for.

b. Grant applications take time to research, and write. Even talking at length with the grant administrator does not guarantee success. Therefore, weigh up the time commitment against your own creative output to see if it is worth it.

c. Grant applications, like competitions, work to their own timetables. Some like Grants for Arts are open all the time but this is rare. Therefore, ask yourself does the timetable work for your project?

Arts Councils

Arts Council England

Grants for the Arts programme has been running for some time and supports individuals and small groups with grants from £1000 -£100,000.

They also have a funding finder option to help you with others sources of support http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/funding/other-sources-funding#section-2

Creative Scotland

The general funding body for arts and media work in Scotland with a good weekly newsletter for opportunities opportunities.creativescotland.com

Arts Council of Wales

Funding ranging from literature to film http://www.arts.wales/what-we-do/funding/apply/individuals

Arts Council of Northern Ireland

Support for arts in Northern Ireland http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/funding-for-individuals

Arts Council Ireland

A programme of awards ranging from street art and film to writing and dance. http://www.artscouncil.ie/available-funding/

Other Organisations

British Council

Looking for an international link up then this is probably the place to start https://www.britishcouncil.org/study-work-create/opportunity/funding-creativity

NESTA

For those with a science bent or in search of a major loan for an arts project then this isa good destination. http://www.nesta.org.uk/get-funding

Creative Skillset

Aimed at film and TV companies there are training and development opportunities via various seperate funds. http://creativeskillset.org/who_we_help/creative_businesses/funding_for_creative_businesses

Film London

Annual micro budget and short film competitions http://filmlondon.org.uk/funding

Creative England

Funding for film, games and digital projects outside London http://www.creativeengland.co.uk/about/who-we-are

The Princes Trust

If you are 18-30 the Princes Trust could advice on how to start up your creative business https://www.princes-trust.org.uk/help-for-young-people/support-starting-business

Wellcome Foundation

Grants £5,000 -£3m for health-science related arts projects https://wellcome.ac.uk/funding/public-engagement-fund

Grants for Specific Creative Work

UK Games Fund

Support for games developers http://ukgamesfund.com/uk-games-fund/

Getty Images

For photographers Getty run a series of grant competitions currently emerging talent and editorial http://wherewestand.gettyimages.com/grants/

Dorothea Lange – Paul Taylor Award

An annual grant for documentary collaborations between writers and photographers http://documentarystudies.duke.edu/awards/lange-taylor

CENTER – Advancing the photographic arts

Sante Fe based series of grants for various photographic projects http://visitcenter.org/call-for-entries/

Don Freeman Awards

Two annual awards for illustrators for children’s books in development prior to contracts http://www.scbwi.org/awards/grants/work-in-progress-grants/don-freeman-illustrator-grants/

General Grant-Aid

For European Union support check out the Creative Europe site

For  a more general overall assessment of how you individually may obtain financial support they possibly try out Turn2Us

For a large list of international film and video grants check out http://videoandfilmmaker.com/wp/index.php/category/funding-2/

For a large list of international photography grants etc see https://www.david-campbell.org/photography/grants/

All the best for your applications and projects.

Posted in Creative industries, Creative Policy, Funding | Comments Off on Funding Your Creative Work Part 1. Grants

Visions of Inclusion – more practical steps

In the previous blog the issues around building trust, and the initial steps towards an inclusive creative community were addressed.  This week the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation published their report on BAME talent and the barriers to entry in UK theatre – Centre Stage :The Pipeline for BAME Talent. In the light of this I am looking at the issues of recruitment, progression and visions of inclusion across the creative industries..  All of these points are part of the bigger picture addressed in earlier discussions around the issues and solutions facing the creative industries in the UK.

Nepotism is the enemy of inclusion and quality

One of the major problems facing any creative team, be they part of a  large media company or a small start up, is the lack of skills and/or experience to be found in the current workforce. This combined with a lack of advertising spend in the early stages of start ups has led to musical chairs at the senior level of company development, a reliance of on who you know when it comes to temporary staff or talent recruitment, and networking within small self-defining communities when looking to develop new teams.

Some of this is understandable when you consider the myths and misunderstanding about the nature of creativity – see previous blog on making content development work. However, beyond these basic issues the narrow basis from which most recruiting is done needs to be widened if inclusion is to be our goal, and talent is genuinely going to be the real decider.

Starting from the Inside

You cannot be inclusive toward excluded individuals if you are not already inclusive inside your organisation.

“When it comes to creative inspiration, job titles and hierarchy are meaningless.” Ed Catmull : Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

Developing an open structure where everyone in the team – including the cleaner, is able to contribute to new ideas, developing a product and helping rescue projects is vital to an inclusive approach, working. It means that when a traditionally excluded group member enters the team they are equal terms with people from the off.  This can be seen in one of the most successful and largest  international design companies Arup to the small team operations of Supercell one of the world’s leading games companies.

Super Cell logo

First Encounters

Most people can remember those who were good at exams in school, and those who were not, those who are quiet in groups, and those that dominate, those who are good with words and those who seek to find the right ones.  Given these difference it becomes critical to be open to different levels of skill, experience, and confidence – doubly so when dealing with individuals who have experienced discrimination, or know they are from a traditionally excluded group.

In the last blog I emphasised the need for open introduction sessions, and short introductory courses. However, the interview or the recruitment process needs to follow a similar inclusive agenda. Always ensure more than one person is present at all interviews, and that they reflect a diversity in their presence. One male and one female is a good start, but asking a representative of an excluded group to be part of the process will again build trust into the process.

Equally do not assume the lead interviewer will be the most senior person present, as often as not this will be a white middle class man.  Let the person from the excluded community take the lead. You will gain the same information from the interviewee but the fact that someone other than the white middle class man is leading, matters. It helps build trust.

Striving for Quality

Often when people discuss issues of inclusion you hear the fear of ‘positive discrimination’ or worse ‘political correctness’ leading to an undermining of quality – token gestures leading to bad appointments. The real problem is that current practice has led to bad appointments, and the exclusion of talent, thus undermining the quality of the creative industries. Evidence of this runs from UK acting talent flourishing in the US to the decline of the UK dominance in games development on the global stage, and the ongoing failure of UK films to make profits.

Quality is continually undermined if you do not include the best people available, and have an open and diverse approach to the global audiences which now dominate our digital worlds.

Creativity Inc cover

Visions of Inclusion

Trust is hard to build in a team, especially in a culture riven with fear of the other, and the insecurities of freelance and temporary contracts.  If we want quality, we have to be inclusive. To do this we need to overcome these fears. The easiest way to achieve this is to respect each other, and include everyone in the goal of creating better.

Quality sometimes is achieved by accident, but as Pixar and various other companies and teams have proved it is largely by design. So as Ed Catmull puts it :-

“Always take a chance on better, even if it seems threatening.”

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Inclusivity in the Creative Industries – first steps

The question of diversity, or lack of, within the creativity industries has been an issue for a long time, and over the last few years has steadily taken center stage in many discussions. As a  response the idea of inclusivity has gained ground, and was part of the solutions posted in a previous blog. This blog seeks to look at  a step by step approach to being inclusive both in an educational/training environment and within Creative companies.

Trust

Building trust amongst excluded, or under represented, communities is the biggest initial problem faced by anyone or any organisation seeking to be inclusive. Years of token gestures, institutionalised discrimination, or simply indifference has created a culture of mistrust amongst many communities.  Examples range from expecting Black  stories from Black writers, who may have wanted to write sci-fi or action thrillers, to never asking why no women were in heads of department positions or teams were 90% plus male to say nothing of why so many Oxbridge graduates dominated creative positions in the arts etc.

The cumulative effect of this has been to see many excluded individuals, or whole groups, feeling it s pointless to apply or train for a post as it will ultimately lead no-where.  In this context it is not enough to merely create targeted schemes, quotas or adopted an inclusive policy. The aim has to be a strategy of long term development aimed at quality, and fair representation.

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Step 1. Reaching Out

The first step is to go to the under represented communities where they are – not wait for them to apply to join you. All the groups which are currently excluded have organisations and/or networks which connect them together.  Setting up short introductory courses to feed into your larger educational or training programme, or your company’s specific skills base. This may need to be done in a town, city or area away from your base but the cost of an overnight and travel expenses for one or two people to provide a weekend introductory course is a sign of real commitment. It goes a long way to building the all important trust needed for any strategy to work.

Step 2.  Choosing the right Ambassadors

Sending a really senior person to be part of the initial conversation with groups, or to run an introductory course is a sign of commitment. So if this is the right person they should go. Why might they not be the right person?  Trust is a difficult thing to build in the face of a history of discrimination. Therefore, it is critical in these first encounters that someone, in the team reaching out, fully understands the issues within the community you are seeking to include. It may be that they have direct experience themselves of discrimination but critically they must be aware of the specific issue relevant to the group/s being addressed, and be able to engage with questions raised in conversations.

Failure to understand or recognise issues, a defensive attitude, or simple ignorance will undermine any potential  trust. It might appear obvious that the person who recruits staff, or runs a particular company, is the best person to send out as your ambassador but if they cannot reach out in a credible way then the strategy will fall at its first hurdle.

Step 3.  Low Cost Access

We are not discussing here just physical access – as this should be taken as a given, and is legally required in most cases.. Access in its wider sense is about the cost of developing skills and issues of progression within a given creative environment.

To be cost effective initial steps have to be low cost. Hence the idea of very short courses which are open to relatively large groups or specifically targeted groups.  By running them at weekends or as evening courses they become open to those who have existing jobs, only have child care for some out of work hours, and can only afford limited fees.

Where access involves specific skills in the use of particular sofware or technical equipment then access to these facilities needs to be on offer as part of the initial plan. This can be achieved by bulk purchase subscriptions on behalf of groups, sponsorship from equipment suppliers, grant aid (see below)or granting access to existing facilities. Many companies and educational institutions have equipment and facilities which are not in use at the weekend or for short periods. Setting up a network of these would be a great new step towards providing an inclusive environment.

Step 4. A ladder of Progression

To be attractive there needs to be a clear ladder of progression set out within the initial offer of the introductory sessions. This may be obvious within a big company, and for degree based education, etc. where routes to careers are part of the appeal. However, much of the creative industries is dominated by freelancers and the life of a freelancer has to be part of any offer being laid out to these excluded communities.

In the later context the importance of competitions, and the use if social media, etc. not only for connections, information, and in some cases training, but also as a means of distribution, and sales of work, need to be emphasised.

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 14.15.56

Step 5. Acts of Inclusion

The fear is always that you spend the money and time and its benefit goes to someone else or ends up producing no new entrants into your creative set up. The point is here we are a long way from developing our wider potential inclusive creative base and any shift in the inclusivity will sooner or later benefit everyone as the creative industries as a whole increase and the quality of work improves. Your contribution will pay off – you may just not see it at first.

In order to off set the costs involved in these endeavours then the use of grants from the lottery fund, arts councils and various charitable and not for profit organisations is an important part of the strategy, especially for small companies and freelancers.

These are the initial steps beyond these are the issues of recruitment, progression and visions of inclusion, but these are for another blog.

 

 

Posted in Creative Collaboration, Creative industries, Creative Policy | Comments Off on Inclusivity in the Creative Industries – first steps