Influencing Diversity in the Screen and Creative Media Sectors

Kate Lander MIEP, Animation Skills Council, L&D Advisor Brown Bag Films UK, independent Career Consultant.

As a Career and Organisational Development Consultant, I’ve been working with education providers of various types over many years.  In 2018 I migrated across the UK from Essex, leaving spray tan and TOWIE, for a new life in Manchester and despite the drizzle, becoming an honorary Manc has been definitely, maybe, the best decision of my life. I then joined 2D Animation Studio Brown Bag Films UK as their Learning and Development Advisor working part-time, alongside my consulting work in Career Coaching and Training. The start of my career some 30 years ago was as an actor and scriptwriter, so being back in entertainment, even in a less creative role, has been a joy!

Brown Bag had already engaged with Belinda, Deborah and the team at Ideas Foundation, and had begun delivery of their mentorship programme. Five of the Brown Bag team, all from different disciplines and at different stages of their careers, became industry mentors to students from The Manchester College. I’d had previous experience working in traineeships and with NEETs when heading up skills for one of the UK’s leading employability providers, so was more than aware of the challenges in running these kinds of programmes.

The unique approach of Ideas Foundation made such an impact on our mentors. Our Creative Director Bill, who at the time was responsible for the highly successful pre-school series Nella the Princess Knight for Nickelodeon, in addition to our Art Director, Studio Coordinator, and VFX Supervisor, were astounded by the level of engagement they received from their mentees, and the quality of the work they produced.

We know and understand the statistics of individuals coming into the screen/animation industry from less advantaged backgrounds; often living in challenging environments with a limited income and in some instances, 3rdgeneration unemployment. Watching the evolution of these young people when working with the Ideas Foundation and The Manchester College as they realised their own capacity for growth and the opportunities which were available to them, was inspiring. As a result, Brown Bag Films UK have committed to continue to work with Ideas Foundation as an industry partner, providing mentors and career support wherever we can.

In my own capacity as a Career Coach, I’ve also had the opportunity to support Ideas Foundation on a professional basis.  Presenting an animation concept brief to 1styear Animation students at The Manchester College and providing feedback on their work, really demonstrated the raw talent, which with the support of FE, HE and Industry, can add so much value to a sector where wails of ‘there’s no new talent out there!’ are all too common. I’ve also provided careers workshops to 2ndyears across the whole creative digital department. The impact of that session on young people with limited access to work opportunities or understanding of the working World was tangible. I now have quite a cohort of aspiring animators, designers and games creators connected to my LinkedIn pages – a testament to their commitment to their future careers.

The Ideas Foundation approach is clearly a model which works; by engaging directly with industry experts and ensuring that FE have access to industry, they’re enriching the education of a diverse group of young people who would otherwise fall through the gaps, potentially working in industries which would not value them, or doing jobs which do not fulfil them, or ultimately not working at all. Having seen the less successful ways of working with young people who come from backgrounds of diversity or deprivation, it’s been both a pleasure and a privilege to support the mission in nurturing creative youth from all backgrounds into our sometimes ‘difficult to enter’ sector.


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