During consultation, young people stated clearly that ‘money’ can be an issue: not all cultural opportunities are free, travel costs, as do fees and examinations; families often have other priorities and calls on their finances.
The Creator Fund was therefore established, offering grants of £250 direct to young people, where appropriate. Working with creative facilitators, groups of Young Ambassadors debated the key criteria on which applications would be judged and decided that the money should be used to help creative young people to ‘take the next step’. It was important to the Young Ambassadors that the money would:
- Make a real difference to creative young people
- Be available to all young people, regardless of where they live in Leicester Shire
Details of how to apply to the Creator Fund were sent out to the Pathfinder’s networks of young people, as well as to schools, independent arts groups, youth centres, and community centres. News about the Creator Fund was available in different formats, such as flyers, calling cards and a Facebook page to publicise the offer.
100 young people from every part of Leicester Shire had their applications approved by Young Ambassadors: writers; kathak dancers; traditional Irish musicians; DJs; textile designers; painters; circus artists; computer game artists; photographers; singers; actors; digital filmmakers...
To examine the impact of the Creator Fund, the Pathfinder created an online social network using Ning. The website was solely for recipients of the Creator Fund and allowed them to share their experiences:
- Blogs – for young people to record their personal experiences
- Forums – for wider discussion
- Events – calendars of upcoming events relating to FYT and other cultural activity
- Images and videos – a space to share pictures and films of performances, pieces of work, video blogs etc
- Groups – where writers, photographers, dancers etc could discuss their own cultural form
Through the Ning site we were able to hear fantastic stories of young people’s achievements and see some of the great work they had created.
The Creator Fund was a great success. It is a great example of how relatively small amounts of funding can have a big effect, especially when it’s targeted on real needs that have been clearly expressed by young people.
"We wanted The Creator Fund to go direct to young people, to help them do more of the cultural and creative stuff they're in to - whether that's photography, acting, singing, playing guitar… this money could make the difference."
"Just to keep you up to date in that I have sat and passed my Royal School of Music prep test for the piano and also sat my piano grade 1. Awaiting the result. Also I have performed in the ballet Amazing Grace at the Curve Leicester. By helping me finance my ballet training here in Leicester I am also appearing in … Nottingham for the English Youth Ballet."
"Last weekend Enya represented the Midland region at the All Britain Traditional Irish music competition held at Glasgow University and took first place in the Groupai Cheoil competition (this is like a traditional orchestra), and second place in the traditional lilting. This means she will be representing Great Britain at the All Ireland in August - on behalf of Enya and myself thank you for helping her."
"Art… gives me great confidence. I am dyslexic and dyspraxic and find that art does not have any boundaries. I plan to go on to be a graphic designer of some sort, so feel I need to explore as many avenues of my creative side as possible…"
The Creator Fund was an innovative response to consultation with young people about the blockages or obstacles that exist to wider participation in arts and culture.