Art at Work
The Aldridge Foundation and Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC) are working together to develop a sustainable programme of activity to improve engagement with Brighton’s valuable arts and creative industries sector through the Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA).
BACA will provide 1,150 students with the latest modern facilities, specialising in Entrepreneurship and Sport, following the construction of a brand new building. Brighton and Hove has a Section 106* requirement of ‘a percent for art’ on this major new development, and instead of using this financial commitment to commission an artwork, the Foundation and BHCC decided to put the fund towards an ongoing programme of cultural, educational, and training activity: Art at Work. This will develop ideas across the whole Academy site for engagement in entrepreneurial creative and cultural activity. Using the ‘percent for art’ in this way it will be possible to create a programme of activity with staff, students, local residents and businesses of direct benefit to students, which will respond to and enhance opportunities that arise in both the immediate and wider city area.
Proposed outcomes of the programme include:
- Greater student awareness of cultural and creative activities and opportunities in the City
- Fuller student engagement in cultural and creative activities in the city
- Greater access to cultural and creative activities for currently under-represented groups of young people
- More cultural and creative activities created specifically with these under-represented audiences in mind
- The development of a more active, critical and confident young audience for cultural and creative activities and employment
- Exposure of students to the potential opportunities and paths into employment in the cultural and creative sector
- Greater preparation for students to ensure access to cultural and creative engagement and employment
- Greater awareness of, and flexibility towards, the barriers to engagement and needs of young people in employers and funders of cultural and creative activities
- Promotion of partners as innovative, practical supporters of creative entrepreneurship
- Using the programme to support and focus richer development of existing cultural and creative networks and to facilitate good practice in relation ot the goals of the programme
- Identification of, and support and opportunities for a more diverse group of young people with significant creative talent
- Integrate effectively into the entrepreneurship curriculum, embedding the ideas of the project in schemes of work at the Academy
A co-coordinator or curator (recruited by The Aldridge Foundation) will consult on, develop and co-ordinate the programme and fundraise for programmes of work to support the agreed aims of the programme. The strands of the programme may be based around the following:
The Academy: Internal and external, temporary or regular/permanent artworks, displays and activities, to be developed and commissioned with Academy staff and students across the site. This could include permanent sculptural pieces, functional pieces (seating, lighting, digital projects), temporary interactive installations, performance, tuition, and projects. This strand will be delivered over a number of years with work being commissioned and fundraised for in stages.
The community: A strand of work that focuses on engagement with the local community bringing individuals and groups into the site and offering specific opportunities to utilise facilities (indoor and outdoor spaces), and to engage in a range of projects. These projects would be developed in conjunction with local community members and respond to local priorities. It is likely to build on existing activities in the City.
The City: A strand that acts as a bridge between the Academy and the City as a whole, ensuring that the Academy has a relevant role in the City and vice versa. This could include hosting events as part of city wide festivals, building links with creative industries to deliver training, mentoring, work placements, collaborative projects, commercial ventures, working with the universities and more.
All three strands will position the Academy as a ‘gallery’ – seeing the whole space, its staff, students and resources as potential assets in delivering the aims of the programme.
According to the Brighton and Hove Creative Industries report, in 2007 1,600 of the 8,600 businesses in Brighton and Hove were part of the creative economy: 48% of these are involved in the media or the performing arts; and one third in design and visual activities. Whilst a small number of new media companies employ hundreds of people, most other creative businesses are much smaller scale. Throughout the UK the creative economy is founded on the skills and efforts of a very large number of very small enterprises, and thousands of entrepreneurial freelancers and independents: musicians, actors, writers, designers,film and media technicians. This is especially true in the South East, where 98% of creative businesses are sole traders or employ fewer than 20 people – which is the picture in Brighton and Hove.
New Deal of the Mind’s latest report, Creative Survival in Hard Times, (commissioned by ACE) looks at the obstacles facing some young people who want to pursue a career in the arts and creative fields. Young artists and creative entrepreneurs interviewed for the report wanted work space, access to information, mentoring and business skills. Although the creative sector is widely recognised as key to economic recovery, “…we treat those who are striving to work in the creative industries abominably with low pay, long internships and little help with professional training.”
What the report also makes clear is the inequality of routes to employment in the creative industries –The sector is typified as often lacking recognizable, conventional employment routes and tending to favour young people from more affluent homes who can afford to work for little or nothing, with little security, to develop a ‘foothold’ in the sector. It is reasonable to assume on this basis that students served by the Brighton Academy, in one of the city’s most deprived areas, may be particularly and explicitly excluded from both engagement and employment in one of the area’s most significant, and diverse employment sectors. The creative industries contribute more than £50 billion a year to the economy and, according to NESTA the sector will be “a key driver for the UK’s recovery from recession” employing more people than the financial sector within four years.
The Foundation is therefore keen to support students in developing the confidence and attributes they may need to enjoy, participate, contribute to and work successfully in, a challenging sector of enormous local and national significance.
For more information, contact Honor Wilson-Fletcher.