Building a Creative Nation: diversity and fair access in the creative industries

On 2 March 2017, TMC's Laurie Parsons joined the Creative & Cultural Skills (CC Skills) National Conference at the Backstage Centre in Purfleet.

Posted by: Laurie Parsons | March 10th, 2017

On 2 March 2017 I joined the Creative & Cultural Skills (CC Skills) National Conference at the Backstage Centre in Purfleet.

Pauline Tambling, CEO of CC Skills, opened by suggesting we are currently experiencing ‘the greatest upheaval to post-16 education of our time’. Followed by Paul Latham, Chair of CC Skills, suggesting that the ‘Creative Industries have a duty of care to be compassionate and to lead by example’. This went some way to setting what I believe were the core messages of the day: collaboration, compassion and leadership in the face of growing inequalities of access to arts and cultural education and employment.

The keynotes and discussion which followed focussed on a theme of diversity and fair access in the endeavour of building a creative nation, considering how to identify talent and support young people from across the social spectrum to access employment either through a creative skillset or in the creative industries.

The event also served as a launch for the National College for the Creative Industries. This National College is one of five in the country and as Althea Efunshile CBE, new Chair of this National College, suggests in her keynote, is a recognition from the government that the Creative Industries are here to stay – an area of growth, a leading industry now and for the future. But, as Andrew Lloyd Webber argues in his recent publication ‘Centre Stage: The Pipeline of BAME Talent’, ‘the stage needs to reflect the diversity of the UK population or it risks becoming side-lined’. This applies across all of the creative and cultural industries.

Between keynotes from industry professionals we also heard from young people currently on their apprenticeship journey and enjoyed panel discussion with trainees, interns and apprentices. The highlight question being ‘what would you say to Teresa May?’, the overwhelming response from the young panel being that there ‘should not be a disconnect between the creative and the academic’. To my mind, this was a further affirmation from young people themselves that cultural education is more important than ever. Ensuring fair access to culture and creativity from an early age is a vital contributor to increased life chances and future creative employment.


If you are a creative organisation and want to find out more about how you can enable more young people to consider the creative industries in their career decision-making, follow the link below for more information.

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