Creative Skills & Futures Network

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Creative Skills & Futures Network 

Tuesday 20 September 2022 – 15:00-16:15


On 20 September, our Creative Skills & Futures Network meeting brought together members from industry and education, to discuss how we protect the creative talent pipeline, and better collaborate across sectors.

Chaired by Dr Paul Thompson, Vice-Chancellor, Royal College of Art, speakers included: Noel Dunne, Director, Creative Alliance; Neil Percival, Deputy Director of Cultural Partnerships, Northumbria University, Joe Burton, National Mentoring Manager, Arts Emergency; and the Creative UK team, including: Stacey Arnold, Policy and Public Affairs Manager; Lee Hornsby, Lead Development & Partnerships Manager, and Sam Rifkin, National Crew & Facilities Manager, Filming in England.


Kicking-off the meeting, Stacey Arnold gave an update on Creative UK’s policy work and projects.

Creative UK has been engaging with the leadership candidates, feeding in suggestions including resurrecting the Arts Premium that was in the Conservative Party Manifesto. We have also been working with our union and trade body members to develop our set of Budget Priorities. While we focused our asks on Creative Industries tax reliefs, our submission also included a section on ensuring the development of a future-proof, highly skilled workforce by a) embedding creative skills in the curriculum and b) ensuring funding and other reforms to FE and HE don’t turn off the creative talent tap. These shared Budget priorities were shared with the new PM in an open letter endorsed by over 30 trade bodies and union members. It was also shared in our newsletter and on social media.

We have written to the Chancellor, the Secretaries of State for DCMS, DfE, DIT and BEIS, and we have been reaching out to new Special Advisers. The PM is yet to take a public view on culture and the Creative Industries. We have worked hard to position the Creative Industries as an industrial priority sector with high growth potential. You can see our response to the recent budget announcements online here.

On 6 September our Chief Executive, Caroline Norbury OBE, gave evidence to the House of Lords Digital and Communications Committee on the future of the Creative Industries. While the discussion was a high-level scene setter, Caroline did manage to outline the importance of creative skills in all parts of the education and training pathway. Watch online here.

Our Redesigning Freelance project is about to get underway and will start with the development of an industry-led Freelance Framework that will signpost employers and freelancers to resources and best practice. Members were invited to attend a meeting on 29 September which discussed how to be involved in the project and the development of the framework.

We are getting feedback from our members that the Cost of Living and energy crisis is compounding a difficult economic climate. We are very keen to hear from members about how this is affecting your creative education and skills provision.

We have joined the Creative Industries Council Apprenticeships, Technical Education and Skills working group. DCMS has recently engaged the group on the development of Level 4 and 5 Higher Technical Qualifications. If any members have questions or concerns on HTQs, please let Lee know and we will feed these into discussions.

Caroline Norbury and Stacey will be attending the Conservative Party Conference and looking to further build our relationships with the new administration. We are meeting Jeff Smith, the Shadow Minister for Sport, Tourism, Heritage, and Music. Planning is underway for Creative UK’s next annual festival (Spring 2023), so you can expect updates on that soon via these meetings and membership newsletters.


Lee Hornsby, Creative UK, announced our re-launched Student Membership, available to all of our FE and HE members (plus other members working with young/emerging creatives).

Lee gave a demonstration of the Students’ Portal and the benefits of student membership, including original articles, interviews and guides aimed at creative students, on-demand access to our Creative Coalition Festival 2020 & 2022 video content, on-demand access to our previous Breaking In events, resources, and opportunities.

The student registration page is here, and we have created an asset bank to help members share information with their students, and encourage members to get in touch with us if they would like any more information.


Sam Rifkin introduced Filming in England, part of Creative UK, and their direct response to the skills shortage in the Film & TV sector. The industry has taken a long time to recognise the mismatch between industry and education – in its recent Skills Review, the BFI has acknowledged what needs to be done to bridge that gap. Filming in England has expanded its outreach to universities and colleges, not only to encourage but to inform students about the opportunities in the sector. We have a National Crew & Facilities Database which is for anyone at any level, and we have a CV clinic offering feedback and guidance – all totally free of charge.

Unfortunately, our remit doesn’t cover educational training – our onus is on advising students and graduates about the opportunities that exist. We work with regional partners, travelling to various universities to deliver talks and to give them an idea of how strong the regions are for filming.

A key component of service is in-person networking evenings that delivered four times quarterly. Moving forwards, we are looking to dedicating two of the four networking evenings to university students and graduates.

For more information, email


Noel Dunne introduced Creative Alliance, a work-based learning provider that offers creative apprenticeships to 16–25-year-olds.

Creative Alliance has Skills Bootcamps, which are Level Three 60-hour Short Courses that lead into apprenticeships – subjects include Digital Marketing, Digital Content Creation, Web Design & Development, UX/UI Design, and 3D CAD for Backstage Theatre. To combat the haemorrhage of backstage technicians leaving the industry due to the pandemic, Creative Alliance is working with National Theatre, Royal Opera House, and Ambassador Theatre Group in an event on 20 October about backstage theatre apprenticeships.

One of the issues facing the sector is diversifying the workforce – Creative Alliance is running a Creative Careers event at Midlands Arts Centre (MAC) on 24 September, where 20 cultural organisations in and around the West Midlands introduce the opportunities they have for people aged 15 -25 years old. They are also launching Home Grown, our Creative Careers Education Programme, which brings stories of Birmingham’s most successful creatives to encourage the next generation of creative professionals. They ran a programme for 60 young creatives called Headspace, which was not only a mentoring programme but an opportunity for mentors to share contacts with the creatives taking part. The impact report for Headspace can be found here.

Finally, on 13 October Creative Alliance is taking part in a Symposium at Birmingham City University to launch the Centre for Equality, Diversity & Inclusion in the Arts. They have just completed research for Birmingham Royal Ballet, CBSO, the Rep, the Hippodrome and MAC on a 10-year strategy about how to diversify the workforce. You can reach out to Noel at


Neil Percival discussed Northumbria University’s three aims: employability and graduate skills, becoming an anchor institution in the North East, and developing partnership. Key partnerships include The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and New Writing North.

At The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art – the BxNU Institute supports experimental, artistic, and curatorial research and practice, which has diversified our academic portfolio and contributes to research activity through the Baltic Research Exchange. Baltic is also involved in over 200 hours of teaching activity across six programmes at Northumbria. The partnership also includes a graduate exhibition every year, talks, workshops, live briefs, placements, and assessment.

New Writing North are closely linked with Northumbria’s Creative Writing and Humanities programmes. They offer a digital marketing internship for one graduate, alongside a host of activities, placements, and employability training. Northumbria is closely involved with them for the Northern Writers’ Awards. Finally, they have commenced a new MA programme in Publishing with New Writing North and Hachette.

Northumbria University has started a brand-new partnership with the BFI, they are in the early stages of revising a partnership agreement with Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, Live Theatre and Twenty Six 03. These partnerships look at how organisations can offer teaching, placements, live briefs, and research activities.

If you’d like to hear more about the University’s partnerships work, or have a chat, you can reach Neil via


Joe Burton introduced Arts Emergency, an organisation that helps young people get a fair start in the arts and humanities and navigate their way into creative careers.

Budgets are being cut across the country, so it hasn’t been feasible to run these subjects and other subjects are being prioritised. As a result, Arts Emergency has grown a grassroots campaign to bring about change and get support to people who are most likely to not go into the arts sector because of the social situation but who might have got into the sector otherwise. They do this by partnering with an 8000-strong network of professionals who are working in the arts and humanities and pair them to our year-long mentoring programme. They work with 16-18 year olds but will be introducing a new programme for 19-25 year olds in January 2023.

Their key collaboration is their Network, where they gain monthly donations that help pay the staff wages and to acquire mentors participating in our mentoring programme. Joe encouraged requests to join the Network (

The next Creative Skills & Futures network meeting will be Wednesday 8 February, with more details nearer the time. If you are interested in joining future Network meetings, fill in this form to join the mailing list.


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