Creative Edinburgh Awarded Major Funding Package.

600.jpeg

I’ve been Chair of Creative Edinburgh since 2012, and introduced the fledgling organisation to a large audience alongside Fiona Hyslop in 2011 at The Hub in Leith Street.

It was a grand night with lots of dreams (wandering around the room I heard mutterings of cynicism.  “Another (another) creative organisation for Edinburgh, that’s all we need.”) I paraphrase of course.  But for a while that was a prevailing attitude that we had to overcome.

However,  Janine and Lynsey (our directors) were tough as old boots, rolled their sleeves up, donned creative curatorial hats and said “Stuff ’em, we’re gonna make this work.” (Again, I paraphrase.)

Jim Galloway, of the City Council’s Economic Development team, was not one of the cynics.  far from it.

He saw the light.

He had a modest budget from which to draw, and for six years now he has convinced his colleagues not just to fund us, but to celebrate us, endorse us and commission us for consultancy projects (when appropriate).

We’ve never let him down.  He’s never let us down.

The cynics slowly dropped away (but let’s never kid ourselves, no organisation is free from its critics, though few in our case are particularly ‘open’ with their criticism).

We’ve done a good job.  Of that I am in no doubt.  And when I say ‘we’, I principally mean the executive team of directors (Janine, Lynsey and now Claire) ably abetted by their own teams; currently Anna and Rachel but also Jenny, Holly, Catriona and several more.

We’ve drawn on our members to help us in lots of areas and we’ve created an excellent Steering Group who soon put us right when our ideas go a bit off track.

Our board (past and present) has been brilliant.  An eclectic, multi-skilled bunch of proper personalities with a grounding in good governance (thanks especilly to Mike Davidson for that).

Our members’ jams, meet ups and surveys have kept us informed.

And so we’ve grown.

One, two, three, soon four thousand (I hope) members.

We’ve travelled, literally, the world – all over Europe, North America and Asia so far.

But it’s been tight; very, very tight – financially.

Each year has seen a couple of stale biscuits and a half bottle of red wine line the cupboard.  Half a box of Dairylee in the fridge.

But our funders, and sponsors have grown in variety and commitment.  Each year that Dairlyee has looked more likely to be there on April the 6th, and not snaffled by the bailiffs.

And so, yesterday, it was with a mixture of relief and joy that we found out Creative Scotland (who I also have to say have been an increasingly amazing source of support and vision) announced that we, and our great friends and partners at Creative Dundee, had been granted Regularly Funded Organisation (RFO) status along with 114 others.

This is a game changer.  Our funding will now be greater than ever before, and ‘guaranteed’ (so long as we deliver) for three years.

It doesn’t mean we don’t need Jim and the other supporters we have taken on over the years, quite the opposite.  And hopefully some of this recognition will rub off on them.  I particularly have to single out Anderson Strathern, Codebase, FreeAgent, CGI, Chris Stewart Group, Federation of Small Businesses, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Whitespace,The Skinny and others.  Thank you all.  Please continue to support us as we grow.

We wil be doing more, but not haphazardly.  We have a plan to help develop, educate, meet, grow, focus and spotlight the creative industries in Edinburgh.

We’ll work closely with our friends in Dundee.  Gillian Easson has done an amazing job there and she too has been recognised as an RFO.

My heart goes out to those organisations that lost RFO funding (and those that were reduced).  Sadly in this habitat there are always winners and losers.  May you live on and return renewed and invigorated to the fray.

For me, this is a bit of a career highlight.

I’ve known, since I met Janine and Lynsey, that this could, and would, work.  They leave a great legacy and are both still heavily involved (formally and informally).

We have a strong, committed, enthusiastic executive and governance team.  We have committed members.  We now have more robust funding to underpin our vision.

As Jeff Bezos says. “This remains day one.”

 

 

Advertisements

Creative Industries Federation shares psychological boost for the UK’s Creative Industries.

Federation.gif
Well, Theresa May has one priority right.
“Monday’s announcement by Prime Minister Theresa May that the creative industries would be one of five named sectors in the new industrial strategy was a major step forward for a sector which has never been formally recognised in a national industrial strategy before. Only six years ago at the start of the coalition government, the creative industries were not formally acknowledged when it announced nine sectors of industrial engagement.”  (Source: Creative Industries Federation)
  • The government has launched a Green Paper/consultation giving a blueprint for a national industrial strategy.
  • Five sectors, including the creative industries, were named in the consultation as having ‘sector deals’.
  • Exactly how government support for chosen sectors will be offered is dependent on the result of the consultation process, although the key mechanisms for support are given in the 10 pillars explored below.
  • In order to attain its three goals, the government has identified 10 pillars that each sector deal should focus on. These are:
    • investment in science, research and innovation
    • developing skills
    • upgrading infrastructure
    • supporting businesses to start and grow
    • improving procurement
    • encouraging trade and inward investment
    • delivering affordable energy and clean growth
    • cultivating world-leading sectors
    • driving growth across the whole country
    • creating the right institutions to bring together sectors and places. (Like Creative Edinburgh)
As the CIF states in its recent circular, not only is this a growing sector (as we have known for several years) but jobs cannot be automated.  Although I’m sure there are plenty of people trying to find a way.
Here’s a couple of efforts to prove my point.
8d0849daafaa5068447f474af4b2765c.jpg
da046a0364e7434d7dfa31ba89272191.jpg
In Scotland we have been blessed to have a long term appointment in Culture, Tourism and External Affairs in the shape of the enthusiastic and understanding Fiona Hyslop so maybe things are looking up for the sector.
The point is the sector includes not just corporate businesses like design, advertising, film and architecture but also hundreds of thousands of start ups, SMEs and increasingly overlaps with the rapidly growing tech sector.
My role as Chair of Creative Edinburgh is to support our Director Janine Matheson and her team, alongside our enthusiastic board in realising the ambitions of this ‘new deal’ by creating a thriving and increasingly vocal network of exactly those businesses in Edinburgh that can benefit from the strategy.
We are deeply grateful to our funders and sponsors who have made this possible so far, and this initiative can be a positive step forward for a city that can benefit more than most from both Holyrood and Westminster recognition and support.

Creative Edinburgh is Five. Help us get to Fifty.

Olaf+Furniss+wins+Creative+Edinburgh+Award.jpeg

Olaf Furness picking up his Creative Edinburgh Award from a chap in an ill fitting suit.

I’ve been in the Chair at Creative Edinburgh for four years in which time we have grown our membership from virtually zero to over 2,300.

It’s a uniquely aggregated network of everyone from jewellery-makers to promoters, to designers to accountants to film producers and pretty much everything in between.

If it has done one thing only it has exploded the myth that networking is boring, scary and a waste of time.

It has created hundreds of commissions, collaborations and friendships and it has created an energy that is rarely (I actually mean never but I don’t have empiric evidence to prove that…yet) experienced in the professional workplace.

We represent the Creative Industries on an economic development ticket. So we’re not an arts organisation, we’re a membership group that invests time and energy into mentoring, matchmaking, sharing knowledge and space and time and experience with our members; young and old.

I like to think of us as “Edinburgh’s Creative Oxygen.”

We don’t sneer at students. We welcome them. Not in a token way, we embrace them.

We don’t see our older members (like me) as past it. We see them as wise and connected.

And useful.

One, two and three person businesses, and freelancers, are manifold in our membership. That’s because Scotland is a nation of SME’s and self employed.

It’s what Scotland is and the sooner we recognise that and accept that the emerging economy is based precisely on that business model, the better.

But we also welcome and enjoy the experiences of our larger member organisations.

We even go out and train some of Scotland’s largest corporations.

But we rely on knowledge, passion and commitment to survive and thrive.

We’re at a crossroads in our development. We want to march on but we need help.

We need knowledge too.

That knowledge will come from an important member survey (that non-members can fill in too). You know me (you’re connected to me after all).

Please, take 15 minutes out to fill in this nicely designed questionnaire. (FYI, it’s been created in a great new tool that competes with Survey Monkey called Typeform and is rather good.)

Thank you my friend. It means a lot to me.

https://creativeedinburgh.typeform.com/to/XcSv9a

The end of my first decade of Thinking Hard? No, the start of my second!

Thinkhard logo that works.jpg

Ten years ago I sat at my desk looking out onto Ashburnham Loan without a single client.  I’d walked away from my job as CEO of a Stock Market listed communications group.  Just like three years earlier I had walked away from my role as MD of my own advertising agency (50 strong and highly regarded).

Why had I done this?

(After all, to lose one senior level role is unfortunate, to lose two is downright carelessness.)

But I hadn’t lost either of them.

I’d elected to change my viewpoint on work.  To get out of the hamster’s wheel of eternal financial year ends, HR responsibilities, client bum sucking, to keep the corporate machine rolling on when I didn’t always respect all of the clients or all of the work my team was doing for them.

And that’s actually the crux of it. “the work my team was doing for them“.

I, personally, wasn’t actually a net contributor to anything that came out of either of those agencies.

I was simply a manager, albeit a senior one.

I didn’t want to be a manager.

It’s boring.

And so I walked away.

Twice.

Ten years later I’ve completed 694 creative (mainly) projects for no fewer than 80 different clients.  The vast majority of which I can say I’m proud of.  And have enjoyed the process, liked the people I’ve worked with, and for, and made many new friends along the way.

In fact, it’s the longest I’ve held down a job in my life.

And it’s allowed me to indulge in other things I consider worthwhile; NABS, FCT, The Lyceum, Creative Edinburgh

Thanks guys.

Thanks very, very much.

I hope some of you will stick around for the next ten.

Lessons in life and in business.

I was asked to contribute (as Chairman) to the new Creative Edinburgh blog so I thought I’d draw on some of my personal life-lessons after 30 years at the marketing coal face.  It is, of necessity, rather brief but I’m happy to elaborate with whoever thinks it might be interesting…

Things I am glad I was told

400

Mark Gorman shares an informed (and humorous) insight on business management in the creative industries.

Given that Creative Edinburgh is essentially about sharing (knowledge, experiences, contacts, opportunities and pizza) I thought it incumbent upon me as the Chair to share a few of my own personal insights gathered over nearly three decades as a creative practitioner.

What follows are the slides from a PPT deck that I created a couple of years ago for a talk I did in Newcastle. Although most of my career has been in advertising I believe the lessons can be applied to any creative business (in fact any business whatsoever).

Some are more serious that others.

Read it all here…

Creative Edinburgh. What’s it all about then?

I’ve been privileged to be Chair of this astonishingly successful organisation for about three years now and in that time I’ve seen it grow from a mere idea to a near 1,700 strong network.

I was recently asked to contribute to the new blog and here is what I had to say.

300

Brownian Motion. It’s a good metaphor for Creative Edinburgh’s unwritten raison d’etre. For those of you unfamiliar with the term it’s the term for random motion of particles suspended in a fluid resulting from their collision with the quick atoms or molecules in the fluid.

OK, that’s all a bit scientific Pseuds Corner (I was a science undergraduate once upon a time), but it’s very apposite to our work here at Creative Edinburgh. Because, at the core of our belief is the idea that if you put lots of people with very different skills, careers, experiences and needs in a room and let Brownian Motion take over people will move about, bump into one another and make random collisions that will spark real opportunity.

It’s happened for our members time and time again at our many and varied events. But one common theme binds these events together; the chance to network in a non-confrontational environment……

You can read the full post here.