Content by University of Worcester School of Arts students Sharon Vass (illustrations) and Freddie Barker (text + video).
#VentureCrawlWorcs Creative Enterprises in Worcester
The #VentureCrawlWorcs in March ’22 invited students to travel through the city accompanied by industry professionals and creative entrepreneurs. Attending students were handed opportunities to gain exclusive insights, hands-on knowledge, and establish connections within the local arts scene.
The event took place over several hours: with the help of five creative business venues, plus back-to-back talks, tips, and advice from sixteen creative industry professionals – our whistle-stop tour of Worcester provided a wealth of valuable information for future artists and creative entrepreneurs.
FIRST UP: We were greeted by the team facilitating the #VentureCrawl – a team of friendly faces dedicated to encouraging the connection between artists and enterprise. They were-
- John Holmes, Managing Director of Advantage Creative, and his team…
- Helen Keegan, Mobile media specialist, consultant event producer, speaker, and writer,
- Maddie Moore, Creative Industries Coordinator for The Arches Participate Project,
- Andy Jackson, Entrepreneur In Residence for The Arches Participate Project, journalist, and CEO and Founder of i-creation.
With a knowledgeable and influential team established, we arrived at the first venue for our #VentureCrawl –
The Royal Porcelain Works
The #VCW crew were warmly welcomed by Kathy Leather – the General Manager of The Bransford Trust. The Bransford Trust is a charitable organisation, built to support culture, community, and education for young people across Worcestershire. Kathy tells us that she is keen to support new arts projects and initiatives to help create a more inclusive and vibrant atmosphere to Worcester.
The Henry Sandon Hall at the Royal Porcelain Works is a grand and versatile space. After accommodating the first annual Worcester Film Festival in 2021, the venue has established itself as an exciting launchpad for new arts events.
Kathy is very keen to encourage growing artists in the area and has introduced a scheme – Foyer Art – where new artists can display their work to be sold in the Foyer of the Royal Porcelain Works.
NEXT UP: Creative Co-Working Spaces.
Worcester is home to several creative co-working spaces. Post-pandemic, there has been a surge in interest in collaborative office spaces for remote workers. Co-working spaces promote a community working environment: a place where people can meet, rent a desk, or focus on creating a start-up business within a business environment.
Our first stop was The Kiln. Managed by Alex Brookes, The Kiln has become a hub for creative and tech-related start-ups, entrepreneurship schemes, and freelancers.
Memberships are a paid monthly subscription, and members can access meeting rooms, hot desks, tech facilities, and events at the venue. A student (or new post-graduate) discount is available, and is a valuable way of accessing industry connections along with embedding yourself within the Worcester creative enterprise community.
The space itself is roomy and accessible with a ‘chilled-out’ environment. As the Centre Manager, Alex has been able to observe the development of co-working relationships, along with the formation of creative industry projects, and ‘conversational networking’ between members working in start-ups, small businesses and the arts.
Another co-working space available in Worcester is Kingsway House. Directed and managed by Sue and Rick Johns, Kingsway House provides a tranquil workspace for tech-focussed creatives. Previously a language school, Kingsway House now functions as a flexible space for coworking, meeting rooms, and serviced offices.
Sue describes it as an ideal venue for business start-ups. The duo proudly provide a brilliant solution for remote OR local workers: supplying everything from technical support to fresh coffee and an optional catering service.
During our visit to Kingsway House, we spoke with Rob March and Ethan Pattemore from Worcester-based creative agency WEAREBEARD.
Rob, the founder and creative director of the business, told us about the practicalities of starting and running a creative business. When working with corporate and promotional commissions and campaigns, Rob tells us that building a community is vital. For creatives, having community links is not only valuable for visibility, but also for gaining valuable word-of-mouth referrals and contacts. In a competitive industry, recommendations and positive personal experiences can carry creatives a long way!
WEAREBEARD specialise in corporate design including: branding, campaigns, videography, illustration and motion graphics. Along with brand development, WEAREBEARD also do Live Art and murals.
The Arches: A new creative space for Worcester.
On the VentureCrawl, we had an exclusive chance to enter one of many refurbished railway arches. Greg Smith, Co-Founder of The Kiln Co-Working Space and Director of F8 Creates described how these fantastic new spaces have been refurbished to provide new vibrant spaces for creative industries businesses to use.
David Edmunds, Festival Director with The Arches Project, discussed the versatility and the potential of these new arches as they are opened up to become creative spaces. From performance venues, to fine art studio co-working spaces, The Arches Project aims to bring more creative practitioners into Worcester.
David explained that since day one of the redevelopment project, the goal has always been to bring art into Worcester. Creating new festivals in the city – such as Light Night and Atmosphere – have been an effective and successful way to promote artists and their work.
Maria-Magdalena Mineva, Graduate Producer with The Arches Festivals, told us about her experience working in a fast-paced, creative environment. She explained that although her job largely involves event management, artists and graduates can always benefit from developing their transferable skills. For Maria-Magdalena, no day at work is ever the same – and she has flourished from having to learn on the job, despite feeling she was ‘thrown into the deep end’ at times.
Worcester Theatres, The Swan, and creating opportunities.
On our final stretch of the #VCW tour, CEO Sarah-Jane Morgan and Creative Producer Owen Harper met us at Worcester’s Swan Theatre. Owen, a Worcester graduate, discussed his work with The Swan – and how his final year at university pushed him to explore careers and opportunities locally.
Owen and Sarah-Jane have worked together to create Platform WR1 – an artist-led development programme for new pieces of theatre. The scheme is aimed at recent graduates and local performing artists. The 8-month programme supplies rehearsal and performance spaces plus tailored advice from professional performers and writers. The goal is to help support new artists to flourish and develop their work in Worcester.
Sarah-Jane has devoted her time to create an approachable and engaging atmosphere around the theatre – and encourages those with ideas for workshops, classes, and performances to get involved!
As the day came to an end, the group left with new insight and inspiration towards the endless possibilities found in Worcester. Going forward, the ‘What Next?’ programme aims to invite students to collaborate, connect, and immerse themselves within the local creative communities.
For further reading, and extra insight from creatives and graduates met during the #VentureCrawlWorcs – see the other article, ‘#VentureCrawlWorcs – insights from local creatives’
To find out more about graduate arts opportunities in Worcester, follow The Arches Social media, reach out to businesses, and never underestimate the power of collaborating to create your own opportunities…
Illustrations: Sharon Vass, UoW Illustration undergraduate
Text and Video content: Freddie Barker, UoW Film undergraduate