Government slashes Creative Access funding

Government slashes Creative Access funding

The future of diversity charity Creative Access is in jeopardy after the government pulled more than £2m worth of its funding.

Creative Access has placed 700 interns from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) across the creative industries since it was founded in 2012. Around 112 of those interns were within the publishing industry. 

Earlier this year, the charity was assured by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills - which funded the charity until June 2016 - that funding would continue. 

But under prime minister Theresa May’s new government, responsibility for internships and apprenticeships was moved into the Department of Education (DoE), which informed the charity that it would not continue to fund its work, as it prioritises apprenticeships.

Creative Access c.e.o. Josie Dobrin told The Bookseller that the charity was "gutted" about the withdrawal of government support and that the decision was a "real reflection of the changing priorities of government". 

The government’s funding provided around £300,000 a year for staff overheads at Creative Access and a further £1.8m for grants to cover up to 40% of the cost of employing an intern. 

Going forward, Dobrin said that the charity was looking at different options and is hopeful that the creative industries will lend its support. 

"There’s a lot of goodwill towards Creative Access", Dobrin said. "We have helped open doors that have been traditionally closed in these industries. We’ve worked with over 270 companies to place over 700 interns and have good relationships with them. It’s now its a question on collaborating to find a solution."

She added: "Whatever happens, we’re proud of what we’ve achieved. Creative Access has been a real catalyst for change in the creative industries. We hope can find a way to continue making a difference."

Speaking to The Bookseller earlier this year, Dobrin said that the publishing industry has shown "a genuine commitment" to "introducing diverse talent into the industry" as well as "nurturing and supporting young people into permanent roles".

Creative Access co-founder Michael Foster told Broadcast the charity was now facing closure because it was carrying a £635,000 debt after continuing to run the scheme in anticipation of the government grant.

Foster has written to Robert Halfon, the minister for apprenticeships and skills, to say that he believed the decision would have "a serious, unfair, and disproportionate effect on the ability of BAME young people, both graduates and apprentices, to gain employment in media".

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said: "Government money should be allocated on a fair and competitive basis, offering the best value for money for the taxpayer. While Creative Access is doing important work, we need to ensure that funding is focused on making the most difference to the people who need support. 

"That’s why we have committed to increasing the proportion of black and ethnic minority apprenticeship starts by 20% by 2020. We’re giving extra money to employers who take on 16-18 year olds, care leavers and apprentices with disabilities and we’ve established National Colleges for Creative and Cultural Industries and Digital Skills."