Arts Council chair Nicholas Serota announces new fund to boost international creative work

The Creative Practitioners’ Fund, announced at the Creative Industries Federation’s International Conference this month, will look to promote travel outside of the UK following Brexit.

Nicholas Serota, chair at Arts Council England. © Hugo Glendinning 2016.

Sir Nicholas Serota, ex-director of the Tate, has announced a new Arts Council funding initiative for individuals in the creative industry looking to work internationally in light of Brexit.

Serota, who is chair of Arts Council England, announced the fund at the Creative Industries Federation’s international conference this month.

“We’re leaving the EU but not Europe”

The Creative Practitioners’ Fund is in aid of promoting relationships between design communities in different countries after the UK leaves the European Union.

“We’re leaving the EU but not Europe,” Serota said. “We should talk about the value of international work and ensure that such exchange continues and flourishes.”

He continued: “The ease of movement is fundamental to creative exchange. It is vital in retaining the edge we have in a highly competitive world market. Strong local sensibilities and the willingness to absorb other cultures is where the richness comes from.”

The value of the fund is yet to be revealed, but Serota confirmed that it will be open to “practitioners in the wider creative industries” who wish to work abroad.

Help to increase diversity in creative sector

It will invest in individuals’ work, and offer financial support for research and development. Further details of the fund will be announced on the Arts Council’s website later this year.

Serota also hopes that funds such as this will sit alongside existing Arts Council initiatives such as Elevate, to provide financial opportunities to those from less “fortunate” backgrounds, and will help to “change the composition” of senior level boards and the creative industries.

“The arts need to work harder to become more strongly representative of the diverse society we have become in the UK,” he said.

“Take part in the community”

Serota’s speech was part of a day of talks hosted by the Creative Industries Federation, where professionals came together to discuss the impact of politics on the creative industries, alongside issues such as diversity and education.

The focus on science and technology over creativity was debated, with some arguing that too much impetus was placed on maths and science skills, and not enough was being done to engage children in the arts from an early age.

Sherry Coutu, entrepreneur and investor, appealed to creative professionals to link up with local teachers to go into schools and talk to “kids as young as six” about what they do.

“The creative industry is the strongest industry that we have,” she said. “We have an obligation not to leave it up to somebody else. When asked, take part in that community to show people what you do. We need to let kids as young as six know that they will eventually need to create the things that they use.”

Science vs arts debate

Karen Usher, co-project leader at educational institution New Model in Technology and Engineering added that the NMiTE was trying out new teaching models for engineering students, adding that the necessity to have maths and physics A-Levels to study engineering was an “artificial barrier”, in particular for women.

But Sir Mark Walport, Government chief scientific adviser, argued that subjects such as maths and English should not be dismissed as unimportant and were “lifelong skills”: “We need to have them throughout our entire education to be numerate and have the ability to communicate,” he said.

Encouraging e-learning and self-learning

Jairaj Mashru, founder at strategy consultancy Bombay Innovation Group, added that learning models have changed and that the pressure should not only be placed on teachers, but young people should also be encouraged to self-learn.

“YouTube is a great source of learning,” he said. “You can download courses on your phone, and learn something new on the metro home – that’s empowering and incredible. Regardless of sector, we should empower students to build their own mental models to enable them to learn things for the rest of their lives.”

“Does the Government really get it?”

In another discussion, MP and minister of state for digital Matt Hancock said the Government is looking to ensure a “combination of both rigour and creativity” in the UK’s education system, and added that the the creative industries themselves need to work to improve diversity in the sector, both ethnically and socio-economically.

“When we talk about the challenges of finding talent and the debate around attracting the brightest and best from around the world, it’s incumbent on everybody to ensure that they also reach to all parts of our own country and make sure everybody gets the chance to make the most of their lives,” he said. “The creative industries have done good work but there’s much more work to do.”

But speakers also argued that the Government itself needs to do more to raise the profile of the creative industries. “The Government’s new industrial strategy recognised the creative industries as part of our future – but it’s not so great that they were only given a few sentences in a green paper that was over 130 pages long,” said Sophie Turner Laing, group CEO at TV and film production company Endemol Shine. “You have to think – does the Government really get it? We need to claim our place at the top table.”

The Creative Industries Federation International Conference took place on 12 July 2017 at Milton Court, The Barbican, Silk Street, London, EC2 9BH.

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