The Story Academy is a year long program designed to open doors to a creative career for young people. The focus will be on 18-26 year olds from less advantaged backgrounds and not in education or employment. It’s something close to the hearts of the three directors of Storythings. We all came from less advantaged backgrounds, we didn’t all go to university, yet we managed find our way around institutional prejudice to build good careers in creative fields. One thing we had in our favour was the era in which we grew up. We all benefited from things like student grants, the Enterprise Allowance Scheme and cheap rents, all of which played a big part in giving us the time and space to develop our skills and early careers. Those opportunities don’t exist today so we want to give young people the same chance we had.
There is no pathway when you are off rails
As a young person building a career in a creative industry there’s an assumption that there is only one pathway. You have to have a degree in your chosen field before anyone will bother to look at your CV. But what if you struggled at school? What if standardised learning wasn’t for you or you faced personal difficulties that made school and further education challenging. A government report from 2017 noted that 92% of creative industry jobs are occupied by people from more advantaged backgrounds. So even if you have that degree you’ve only got an 8% chance if you are not from one of those backgrounds. The report also noted that barriers to accessing job and careers opportunities, included financial barriers, lack of networks, knowledge and information barriers, geographic barriers, and attitudinal barriers.
There are thousands of young people across the UK who have creative talents but are not in education or employment. Without qualifications they feel lost at sea, they’re off-rails and they can’t see beyond all those barriers. They have a talent but they don’t have the education to open doors, they don’t have the mentors to show them the way, and they don’t have the network to support their dreams. The attitudinal barrier mentioned above is reinforced by personal financial pressures and those close to them suggesting they get a ‘proper job’. I know how that feels because I was in that position at 18. So the three Storythings directors, myself, Matt and Anjali, want to be the people I needed to meet when my life was off-rails and going nowhere.
How the Story Academy will remove the barriers
By using our networks, our experience and our desire to change people's lives we want to remove those barriers for young people. We will work with different organisations across the UK to find young people (18+) who have talent but are not afforded the same opportunity as people from different backgrounds. We specifically want to find young people outside of London, from smaller towns and cities that don’t have the support and infrastructure London does. A lot of people working in creative careers either came from big cities or went to university in well connected cities. Unless you’ve gown up in places like Ellesmere Port, Sterling or Dundalk, and not spent 3 or more years in further education, it’s hard to imagine how little infrastructure there is to support a creative career.
So here’s how we will remove each of those barriers:
We'll remove the knowledge barrier by giving them an education in their chosen fields through masterclasses and paid training courses.
We’ll remover the financial barrier by giving them funds to produce a piece of work to showcase their talents and getting them into a paid internship.
We’ll remove the geographical barriers by working with organisations all over the UK to find, support and develop talent outside of the big cities.
We’ll remove the network barriers by introducing them to our national and global networks.
We’ll remove the attitudinal barrier by giving them a mentor.
And finally we’ll get them into a six month paid internship in a creative organisation.
What we need
To make all this happen we need your help. We’ll be investing a percentage of our annual profits into The Story Academy and well as a lot of our time. but we need your help. Here’s how you can get involved:
We're giving clients to opportunity to sponsor an academy place when we engage with them on new projects.
We’re looking for creative companies who are prepared to offer six month paid internships.
We’re looking for anyone running training courses in creative fields. (video/audio/animations/design/coding and more) to offer spaces for academy members.
We're looking for mentors. Thanks to everyone who has offered so far.
And finally we’re looking for organisations working with young people across the UK that might want to talk to us about academy places.
If you want to support The Story Academy please get in touch.