Midlands secures over £1million to develop region’s creative talent

Image credit: Nic Winstanley.

Arts Council England has invested more than £1million in leadership development in the region to develop creative leaders.

Drawing upon the region’s rich creative heritage, the Placemaking and Co-Creation Leadership Programme, led by Staffordshire University in partnership with Keele University and other local organisations, intends to develop leaders who will play a transformative role in the future of the arts in the area.

Focussing on placemaking and co-creation, the programme will work with existing consortium networks, local authorities, higher education institutions and regional cultural organisations to address the needs of its rurally dispersed communities.

The two-year project, beginning in January 2020, aims to reach communities perceived to have low cultural engagement, and to identify a more diverse future talent pool of creative leaders. This will include working with existing organisations such as the Cultural Forum, B-Arts, Cheshire Dance, Appetite, New Vic and many others to support the creative talent already in the region.

Last week Keele University also announced it has joined a consortium of local partners to expand the Appetite project to help local people engage with the arts as part of a £1.75million investment.

Professor David Amigoni, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, at Keele University, said: "This is a great example of local partners working together to help the cultural and creative industries develop and grow. Leadership plays a powerful role in any organisation, but these sectors have distinctive demands, and this funding allows us to build the right kinds of leadership development for the sector."

Peter Knott, Area Director for Arts Council England, said: “A key part of Arts Council’s role is to invest in people to ensure the sector is led by diverse, resilient and creative individuals.

"I look forward to seeing our Transforming Leadership investment in these three Midlands organisations help them create new local and international networks, develop innovative training opportunities and help nurture the next generation of creative leaders."

Carola Boehm, Professor of Arts and Higher Education at Staffordshire University, said: "We are absolutely delighted to be selected. We believe that the creative talent we have in North Staffordshire and Cheshire East deserves to be supported by a challenging and exciting leadership programme. We have a fabulous consortium of 17 experienced and creative organisations, who cannot wait to welcome the next generation of cultural and creative leaders to this partnership."

Arts Council is funding eighteen projects across the country through the Transforming Leadership Fund, to deliver a range of leadership development opportunities for leaders from museums, libraries and arts organisations at all stages of their career, including freelancers, totalling £7,140,989.

Keele University recognises the huge role that creativity and culture plays in the economic and social future of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. To this end, the University announced Keele Deal | Culture in January 2019 - a landmark agreement between Keele and its local partners setting out shared ambitions to release the full potential of the University’s cultural resources and assets for the benefit of the local area.