In 2007, I was asked to join the Board of a local arts organisations, which led grassroots participatory arts in the borough I call home. To cut a very long story short the following year 2008 I became the Chair of that organisation and have ‘chaired’ Studio 3 Arts since then. It has grown phenomenally in that time, I am delighted to say.
Apart from my prior limited knowledge, I have been on a major learning curve about arts, culture, and creative industries for the last 13 years. What I have learnt is that arts, culture, and creative industries change people's lives for the better. The media is flooded with talk about well-being and mental health and how being creative supports people for the better.
COVID-19 has brought all sorts of difficulties to every area of industry and business, however arguably, no other industry has been impacted so much as the creative industries.
The first lockdown left empty theatres, music, spoken word, galleries, and most places where creative practice and opportunities happened were forced to close. As those which were about to open, the second lockdown occurred and they remained unable to practice.
I recognise that a significant number (including Studio 3 arts) moved their services and practices online and we have all benefitted from arts, culture, and creative practice opportunities being streamed into our homes in this challenging year.
However, the reality is that, it is just not the same nor does it help the thousands of people who work behind the scenes to make these magical things happen. The techy folk as I call them; most were left unable to work at all.
Here at the BEC, we are about to start work building a creative industries hub and workspace with our partners Be First, Create and London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. Not to forget our fab architects in Assemble.
Our ambition is to build a truly affordable world-class creative hub that delivers more than fabulous workspace. That is our model. It’s what we do. Constructing the space is a given. Creating a culture of support from mentoring, training, and business-to-business opportunities take more work, but it is what we do.
I have often thought during the last eight months that if we had built 360 before 2020, we would have been able to support creative industries more effectively locally. It is definitely food for thought about how we rebuild creative industries in a new post-COVID-19 world.
What I can be assured of is when it is finished, 360 I mean, that we will build that support bubble for creative industries and hope that we can be part of the journey to rebuild such an important industry sector to benefit us all.