Its hard to believe but just over six months ago I started to work with a group of local creative visual artists based across Somerset. Somerset County Council launched the Creative Industries Development Fund ( CIDF) and we were sucessful at New Leaf in funding our programme of both business skills training and personal development coaching.
Creative Economy was a time limited programme of coaching and workshops that benefitted 18 small creative businesses in Somerset. The coaching programme supported 10 creative businesses and the programme also offered an open programme of workshops for other small creative businesses. The businesses that benefitted included an artist, a non-profit organisation working in dance, an illustrator and textile artist, a studio/gallery, a photographer, a stained glass artist, a youth theatre, a wildlife photographer, an online marketing and media company and a ceramic sculptor.
Creative Economy was a collaborative programme working with nine partners to develop and deliver the programme content. Participants have also collaborated towards and exhibition scheduled for later this year in Somerset Arts Week at Ignis Studio Porlock.
All of the participant businesses met their objectives for taking part.
Participants gained a solid range of new skills around new technologies, social media, marketing, branding, sales and how best to find their customers and meet their customers’ needs. Significantly, the programme has supported the creative industries to be an economic driver for Somerset and the South West: as a result of the programme the participants have increased their turnover over what they had anticipated on entering the programme. They have also gained more clarity abound their businesses, developed clearer communication and felt more confident to gain new customers and contracts. One of the participants also signed a business lease during the programme.
The programme has a multiplier effect in that the participants now feel more networked as a result of taking part and would like to collaborate on future business initiatives and marketing development.
Participants were very enthusiastic about the benefits of the coaching valuing the accountability that the programme offered and the fresh insights and tools. Here is some feedback.
“The coaching helped us ground our ideas and see how to make them a reality. It made me accountable. It helped to give us direction. It’s about following something though. Taking risks. Being on your own in your own head and this needs focus. The risks paid off.”
“The coaching gave me new tools. New ways for letting people see what I do. It’s given me some more confidence.”
All of the participants said that they would recommend Creative Economy to a friend and said that the programme compared ‘very well’ to other programmes of this nature.
The programme was thought to be well paced and well structured,
“This programme is thorough and well presented. They are able to meet individual needs because of their commitment, enthusiasm and the way the course is structured.”
Participants particularly valued the tone set by the programme, the warm and welcoming culture and the quality of the one to one sessions.
“It was warm and welcoming whilst still making sure everything was covered. It made me address important issues which I was ignorant to before.”
“Becky has been a wonderful, supportive advisor and an inspiration to work with. “
This collaborative project would not have been possible without the support of the trainers:
Supervisor: Katie Venner The Space, Tracebridge Sourdough
Venue: Rumwell Hall, Rumwell Taunton
Evaluation: Deborah Durrant Be Curious
Please see the video made here Creative Economy Coaching
Here is a copy of the full evaluation report. Our thanks also goes to the Creative Industries Development Fund who part funded this project.