Creative Access future at risk without funding

Creative Access future at risk without funding

Creative Access will run out of funding next year unless a new source is found, the charity's founder Josie Dobrin has warned.

Dobrin, founder and c.e.o of Creative Access, told The Bookseller the charity was negotiating with the new government over longer term funding, with its current allocation due to run out in June 2016. Dobrin said that without financial assistance and support, the charity would be forced to stop placing interns in December of this year.

She said: “The government’s priorities are all about apprenticeships, which are shown not to be effective in the creative industries and could leave Creative Access out in the cold. We have really brilliant track record. We’ve put great people into the publishing industry who are really making a difference. This model is proven to work and we hope to be able to continue to work with government to deliver these high-calibre internships.”

Creative Access is currently funded by the government's Employer Ownership of Skills Pilot (EOP2) but this fixed term project will end next June.

Dobrin, who was yesterday (5th October) named one of the most influential people in publishing and writing by the h.club 100 awards, said that the most “extreme” outcome if a new funding source could not be found would be that the charity “shut up shop." She added: "Obviously we’ll do whatever we can to prevent that from happening."

At present, the charity is trying to “look at other models that will create a sustainable future for Creative Access, such as adapting to become a not-for-profit organisation.”

Dobrin added: "If Creative Access didn’t exist, it would have a massive impact on young BAME and underprivileged graduates trying to get into these industries. We need to open access to industries that are traditionally closed.”

Creative Access was founded in 2012 to provide opportunities for paid internships in the creative industries for young people of graduate standard from under-represented black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME). It has placed more than 430 interns with over 150 companies in book publishing, journalism, advertising and PR, film, theatre, music and television with media organisations including The Bookseller.

In publishing alone, the charity has placed more than 85 interns in three years in companies such as Penguin Random House and HarperCollins.

One intern has said many ethnic minorities feel left “out in the cold” by media industries, especially publishing.

Helen Efange, former Creative Access intern at United Agents, said: "Most days I pinch myself because I am getting paid to do what I love, which is essentially to read. I am certain that I would not be here without Creative Access. I am the only (and maybe first) minority face within the book department, but hopefully I will not be the last. I not only think this scheme is helpful, but a requirement within the industry.” 

Of Creative Access’ first graduate interns 80% have secured jobs in the sector and their aim is “for them in turn to bring others from under-represented communities in alongside them.”

Clarissa Pabi, former intern at Random House, said: "The supportive infrastructure Creative Access provided (and continues to provide) me with has been invaluable.  After a year-long internship, Random House created a new role for me at Ebury Publishing. I believe I now have a responsibility to help create more opportunities for other people."

With over 40% of Londoners now from a BAME background, the proportion of people from non-white backgrounds working in the creative industries is half of what it is across the rest of the economy. At senior levels within the industry, it is as low as 3%, Creative Access said. 

Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller, has highlighted that “few organisations have risen to the challenge” of tackling diversity in the publishing sector “as well as Creative Access”. He said: “By getting paid interns from diverse backgrounds into real jobs within media businesses, it has delivered a practical solution to a damaging long-term problem.

The Bookseller has benefited twice-over, as has the wider media sector. Both of our candidates have more than merited their jobs, and will go-on to carve out careers in this business, challenging boundaries and changing perceptions as they do so—and I do not doubt that other interns have been similar catalysts for change.

“It was a shock when I heard Creative Access might lose its funding: as a sector we need to step up and make sure this initiative does not fade away. It is too important, and has been too effective."

Bonnier Publishing Fiction has been part of the scheme for more than two years, taking on two interns who are now working in a more permanent capacity at the company. Marketing campaign manager, Jennifer Green, said: “The scheme is a wonderful way to offer a route into our industry to those who may not have had an opportunity otherwise and we would like to continue to work with the scheme in the future.”

Meanwhile Natalie Jerome, publishing director of HarperCollins, said: “Creative Access has hugely helped HarperCollins open up our business to new graduates from a diverse range of backgrounds and it will be this multiplicity of ideas, interests and viewpoints that will ultimately drive our whole industry forward.”