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Work / Opinion

Why I’d like the creative industry to be more like a UK techno night

This month The GirlHood social enterprise rebranded and relaunched on its first anniversary. Here, co-founder of the initiative Kati Russell discusses the challenges that individuals from low socio-economic backgrounds face when entering the creative industries and how the GirlHood is working to create opportunities in practice.

Weird. Wild. Friendly. House of God is the Birmingham based institution, that, now in its 23rd year, still has them stomping under the arches. It’s a varied crowd; age, ethnicity, gender and ability – although they are probably all Midlanders. Me and Nat, my co-founder, love it for this eclectic mix of ravers but also love it for the fact that it’s where DJs come to release their wonky side. People aren’t expected to play the same set over again. The crowd wants to love it or hate it and are happy either way. The night feels like an open invitation to make and break your own rules all within a few hours. There is creative freedom for the DJs and the punters.

Strangely, the creative industries often feel like a place where creative freedom is limited, particularly for those trying to enter. The creative freedom to be yourself is one of the most prohibitive reasons people – not like the people already in the industry – either don’t want to enter or struggle to succeed. There is a pressure, perceived or otherwise, to conform. This can manifest in stifling character in the person and/or their practice. From school kids to entry-level graduates we’ve experienced this with the young people we work with.

Our interest is in working with young people that don’t have easy access to creative opportunities. Those from low socio-economic backgrounds are the least likely to enter and succeed in the creative industries. Therefore our aim is to help young people understand the value of creativity – personally, socially and financially.

Our first major pilot starts next month. We’ve gathered support from one brave agency to test an alternative route into industry for a rich mix of young women aged 18–24 years old. The GirlHood creative traineeship is recruiting participants in partnership with Create Jobs (they work with organisations like Job Centre Plus and The Princes Trust). An intense five-week vocational learning experience, we place equal importance on character, culture and creative practice. The hope is that we’ll co-create something of value to help more people from diverse backgrounds into the industry.

We can get young people ready for industry but industry needs to be ready for young people. What would you like our sector to be more like? Maybe bring a bit with you when you come to work or take on a new project and we might end up with something weird, wild and friendly. Sounds like fun for everyone.